One of the biggest challenges I faced when I made aiming for authenticity a priority in my life was adjusting my view of the way things were “supposed” to be.
When my marriage ended, my sense of identity came crashing down around me. Without knowing who I was or where I belonged, learning to live authentically seemed like a stormy sea I wasn’t equipped to cross.
If you’ve experienced a life-altering change, you know what I mean when I say that I didn’t know up from down for a while. Everything I thought I knew about my life and myself shifted. And it felt like the ground beneath my feet was shifting, too.
Add to this the difficult truth that I pretended everything was fine – perfect even – for so long that my real self was buried under layers and layers of thoughts, ideas, hopes and beliefs I clung to in order to make my life work.
I had to begin by adjusting my view.
Like many who experience a loss – of a relationship, a loved one, a dream or way of life – it felt like the truth was an ending to the identity I had worked so hard to keep. A depressing reality that I was forced to accept. A settling for less than what I had spent my life hoping for.
I wanted to trust that God could lift me up and set me on my feet again. But He and I had a long way to go before I believed that the truth about my situation would set me free.
At first, I was tempted to listen to the shouts coming from the world.
Find yourself! Re-discover who you are! Then hold on tight and be YOU no matter who or what outside influences try to change you! If people don’t like it, too bad! Say what you think! Do what you feel!
But I quickly grew uncomfortable with this view of authenticity. To me it seemed so limiting. Once you decide who you are, you’re finished. Stuck with yourself, you might say. Standing your ground. Fighting for your right to be you. Believing that anyone who doesn’t understand you, agree with you, or approve of all your “you-ness” either doesn’t love you or isn’t worth your time. This felt like a dead-end kind of authenticity. In fact, it’s hard for me to think of this as authenticity at all. Even if it’s what the world is shouting.
Then I had to face the hard truth that aiming for authenticity isn’t easy.
I get tired. I get lazy. Others don’t always cooperate with the process. Sometimes old patterns of coping feel easier, more natural even. A voice whispers inside tempting me to give up. It tells me that I’m stuck – that I will never change. But I know these excuses are a trap. A trap that feels more comfortable and appealing the longer I hide there.
When I turned to God for help, I began to understand truth and authenticity from a new perspective.
He quieted the shouts from the world and the whispers from inside. He showed me that the truth about me and the loss of my marriage was not the end. It was only the beginning. The beginning of a better understanding of myself and who I was created to be. A deeper relationship with Him. A confidence I had never before experienced.
The kind of authenticity desired by God looks different from what the world calls “getting real.” It requires a clear and honest look at what happens in my life when I chase my dreams on my own. It takes the humility to say, I need help. To accept that I don’t have all the answers and to acknowledge that I don’t want to get stuck “just being me” for the rest of my life. I want to become the person God wants me to be.
When I lean in to the truth with God, He unlocks a vision of the future He wants for me.
A future filled with hope that with His guidance, I can overcome unhealthy habits. I can learn to handle things differently than I have in the past. And experience a new healthy way of living. The abundant life He promises.
So every day I return again to the target and take aim at authenticity. Each time, God is there to help. He opens my eyes to the truthful things about me that get in the way of the abundant life He wants for me. And He takes my hands, adjusts my view, and we begin again.
God asks us to aim for authenticity because He wants us to understand the power of this truth: He loves us as we are and way too much to leave us there. Peeling back the layers, He reveals our true identity. With His guidance, we can continue to discover who He created us to be. And His love for us spurs us on to who we are becoming.
What vision of the future is God revealing to you? Do you need to adjust your view of authenticity to get there with Him?