The Journey to Authenticity
I must admit: Becoming my most authentic self is a process. It can a be scary, but also liberating journey. I refer to becoming my most authentic self as a journey because there are stops along the way that is designed to shape, shake and shred unwanted layers of mediocrity, fear, conforming to the ways of the world. These stops aid in our discovering who we are, what we are made of and what we are called to do and are purposed for.
God desires for His creation to be and do what he or she has been created for. As we mature and grow, we move to new levels on our journey. And although we came to this new level with skills, qualifications and experiences, we really begin this new level as a neophyte – a newbie – one who has to learn, grow and experience life on this new level. At times the culture shock of this level causes me to retreat to my unauthentic self. I hate not knowing what’s next. I like to be in control of my situation and environment. Who doesn’t?
But God reminds me each day that I’m not in control of anything and that I’ll just have to trust Him. I have to remind myself daily of who I am and what I have been created for on this new level so that I will continue to move forward, and not run back to familiar spaces.
To be authentic means to be genuine. To be real. It is liberating to know that God created me on purpose and for purpose.
To be authentic you must know the truth because it’s the truth that will set you free, and keep you free of the worldly things competing for your attention, or aiming to keep you distracted. I am learning that being my authentic self comes with a cost. Knowing who you are in Christ and what you have been created for causes you to live and desire differently. Living and desiring differently opens your eyes to a world full of great discovery! It opens the door to experiences and people that you thought you’d never meet or have.
Being authentic promotes your core values and beliefs. For instance, I believe that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, and because I believe this I can take risks and not walk in fear. I value my family and relationships, and because I value my family I am not going to do anything to destroy the trust that that has been established. It also means I am willing to sacrifice those things that causes harm or against my values and beliefs.
Being authentic requires that we set boundaries. What do I mean? Well, knowing who I am in Christ and knowing what I have been created for navigates my yes and no. Before knowing who I was in Christ, and admittedly even after walking the Christ for a while I was a people pleaser. I just wanted peace in a situation. I wanted people to be happy, even if it meant I was not. I said yes to things I should have said no to, and no to things that should have received my yes. I served when I should have sat. I ministered to others inside and outside of the church, when I should have been ministering to those in my own home. I did these things because it fed my need to be needed.
Not walking authentically caused me to be out of order and out of balance. Because I was pleasing others, those that I was seeking to please didn’t care how I felt as long as their need was met. But this was not being true to myself. I learned that I had to set boundaries and teach people how to treat me. I wouldn’t allow others to dictate what I would and would not do. Being authentic causes a disturbance in the atmosphere because teaching others how to treat you is painful to them.
Jesus demonstrates the need to set boundaries in his interaction with the disciples. First, Jesus teaches that He will only go where the Father has instructed Him to go. There were times when the disciples wanted Jesus to go places because the crowd shouted for Him, but Jesus didn’t go because he had planted the seed and made the necessary impact on the people in those places. It was up to them to make a decision to follow. On the journey to authenticity it's important to establish that you will not be influenced by the crowd.
Secondly, Jesus He teaches that He will only do what is needed and necessary. When washing the disciples’ feet, Peter at first resisted, but then wanted Jesus to wash his feet and all of him. Jesus didn’t do it because it wasn’t necessary. When walking authentically we have to ask the question: “What is needed of me in this situation? What is necessary?"
In his reply, Jesus demonstrates to Peter that although it is in His power to do exceedingly abundantly above all we can ask or think, not every situation requires this. He would only do what is required and needed. Nothing more, nothing less.
Lastly, Jesus teaches that those who initially walk with us in the beginning can go only so far with us on the journey. There is a place where their journey with us stops, and our new journey into the unknown begins. As Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane, Peter, James and John followed along. But at some point, Jesus told them to stay behind while He continued on. And so, it is on our journey to authenticity. There will be some who started with us who won’t finish with us.
As I walk more authentically, I love the freedom of discovering who I am! I feel like a butterfly, breaking out of my cocoon. The cocoon was necessary because giftings needed to be incubated. I had to mature. Muscles needed strengthening. Growth and development needed to occur. But now it’s time to spread my wings and fly! I feel good about where I’m going. I don’t know the exact route nor do I know where I’ll land, but I’m loving the journey.