Four years ago my life was turned upside down. I decided to the biggest risk ever, up to that point in life. I left my business and life in Southern California to go to ministry school in Northern California. On my way up I remember answering the question, "what do I really want out of this?"
I answered, "to be comfortable in my own skin."
For me, this is when my journey of living authentically began. I was tired of being a surface dweller. Putting on the fake smile, holding my opinions back for the fear of being rejected. It was like parts of my soul were on lockdown. I just couldn't seem to "be myself" around people.
Through many different encounters with God, conversations with people who care, and hard honest evaluations of my life, I can confidently say that I am embracing a life of living authentically. Of course I struggle with it still. Its one of the greatest challenges of my life!
But my hope is that YOU would also chose to let your light shine! If your already on this path then I want to share my experiences to encourage you along your journey.
What's The Point Of Authentic Living?
I believe we all have a beautiful music within us. A glorious light given to us by The Creator Himself. We have been given the greatest gift ever, the very Spirit of God. We have the honor of releasing this beauty on a daily basis.
SO many of us die with our music still in us. We never truly expressed that THING inside. I for one lived way to much of my life hiding. Because of the fear of rejection and being known. Desiring acceptance of man over authenticity. But I have been set free. I am never going back. I am chosing honesty, openness, and congruence to who I am.
What Is Authenticity?
Ahh man I wish I could describe authenticity perfectly but I can't. I find it hard to capture in words. I recognize it when I see it. It's hard to explain but you can just tell when someone is operating from their core. From who they are. You can tell they aren't faking. I love that! I find this quality to be soo inspiring. Why? Because it takes soo much courage over and over again to be authentic.
There are so many definitions of authenticity but for me it has been a continual choice. Choosing vulnerability over hiddenness. Choosing honesty and truth, even when it hurts and no one in the room agrees. Its choosing to be congruent with my values and beliefs no matter who I am talking to. Its being real!
The Obstacles To Authentic Living
1. Fear of Rejection.
When we give into the fear of what people will think about us, we sacrifice our authenticity. We give up our voice. The sting of rejection is quite the powerful thing. Some naturally seek to avoid this kind of pain by putting a box over their light. They quite down a bit, they put up their "false self."
I lived like this for so long. I just wanted people to like me. I tried soo hard. I became what I thought, people thought, was cool. I gave up my true self for the praise of man. I became a hustler for acceptance. I was the "cool" guy. I got along with anybody and everybody. I wasn't operating out of a place of authenticity. I was faking hard!
At some point, we all must make a choice. A choice to show up and be real. A choice to be authentic or to hide. To say what we really think, or agree nicely to make sure we don't get rejected.
I for one am choosing to show up. Wherever I am at my goal is to simply be. Its not to gain the approval and acceptance of man. I am tired of spending so much energy trying to get something I already have.
I mean come on, our Father in heaven has accepted us in the beloved! When He is our main source of connection the sting of rejection no longer hurts as bad.
Its going to take some vulnerability and willingness to get hurt. Showing up in life takes intentionality, courage, and a whole lotta bathing in God's unconditional love. But its worth it! When we operate and live from an authentic place we just feel good.
2. Living according to the voice of shame.
Shame tells us we aren't good enough. It tells us that we are bad, unworthy, and unloveable. So when we make agreements with shame we create someone that we think, or the world tells us, is loveable, worthy, and acceptable.
Shame is the ultimate enemy of authenticity. For women its usually the old tape recording of not being beautiful enough. For men, not successful enough. Shame attacks our identity. It tells us that we need to be something or someone else in order to be loved and accepted. It tells us that our true self is not worthy.
I spent so much of my life listening to shame. I let it control my life. I remember a time in my life feeling like I just couldn't be honest and open in my relationship with God. I had all this underlying doubt and unbelief. But because of the voice of shame, I kept those feelings stuffed deep down inside. Why? Because good christians don't struggle with that kind of stuff of course! Or so I thought.
Then one night after a friend encouraged me to keep it real, I had a beautiful encounter with God. I was driving to church and I remember saying to God, "ok God you want me to be honest with you? I don't think your really that good. I don't think your actually going to provide for me. I just don't think you really love me that much." I began confessing all these things I didn't even know were in my heart. I felt so afraid, like He was going to punish me or something. Like I was about to get rebuked by a stern father. But no, I felt a wave of His love crash over me like never before. Then I felt Him inside, "See? Was that so bad? I've known it all along. I move closer to you in these times Son."
I cried like a baby! After this encounter my life was different. I simply felt more real. I wasn't try to fit in as much, I was just being me. I felt comfortable in my own skin. I look back and realize that this is what I truly desired four years ago. God is faithful! He restores our souls! He leads us on this journey of authenticity!
It is encounters like these that give me hope. Hope that I can truly live! I don't want to die with my music still in my comfortable little box. I would rather fail over and over again, get hurt, feel the pain, if that means I get abundant life. If thats the price it takes to live fully present, fully alive, then I am all in!
Your Turn. Be brave and share your experiences with authenticity! Whats your story with? How would you describe it? What are your challenges with showing up? I truly can't wait to hear more! Comment below.