Recently I was watching a speaker online who said something about being authentic. He said that being authentic meant you are the same person at work, at home and at church. This idea of being the same person all the time has been tumbling through my head ever since I heard it.
I think the basic premise is that we should not manipulate situations based up who is there or what is going on to better ourselves or our images and reputations. I think he was trying to say we should be honest, but my mind just got stuck on the idea of being the same person all the time.
I would like to believe that I am the same person where ever I go. But, I have pondered this and I am not really sure that I am. So I pose this question, is it possible to be authentic, being the same person, but present oneself in different ways in different situations?
My answer to this question is that I must be an authentic mess. Here is my explanation.
Sometimes I can be very energetic and outgoing. I am eager to meet new people. I’ll walk up and start talking to folks I have never met before. I will wear a beaming smile. Usually at these times I am well rested, eating right and generally taking good care of myself. I can come across as very enthusiastic. Those are fun times, but they can also be so exhausting.
When I am tired, I just want to be at home. I do not want to answer my phone. I do not even want to talk to those closest to me whom I care for so much. I may not even want to see my spouse or my kids. Those are times where I unfortunately can be snappy and short tempered. That is when I need a time out and a nap.
There are also days when I am very stressed out and anxious. My mind becomes very focused, perhaps on something that is going on or something that I have to do. I have trouble mentally switching topics because I am so focused on this one thing. I am sure that I can come across as pensive and distant, probably very inconsiderate too.
It could just be that I am in an environment that I do not operate well in. If I am with only a couple of people that I know really well, I might be very talkative. If I am around a group of eight to ten people that I hardly know I may not say anything, but instead just observe. If I am asked to stand in front of a crowd of two hundred I may be extremely thrilled to get up and speak.
I can be very silly. I just want to laugh and have fun. I could easily see how I’d be perceived as goofy and weird at those times. Those are periods where I just let things roll off of me. I will bounce all over the place like the character Tigger from Winnie the Pooh.
When I am tired, weary and emotionally spent I cry. I can sob buckets of tears. I’ve experienced periods where it felt like I spent a large portion of my days crying. Those are draining times and create very puffy eyes. That is when I do not want to get out of bed because I shutter at the thought of going another step.
Then there are times where I am focused on getting something done no matter what. I am on a one track mind mission. I want this project off my to do list no matter what it takes. I’m ashamed at the people I have hurt during some of those times because I did not think about implications, I just plowed forward with what I wanted to do.
I have highs and lows. I have good times and bad times. I can be an awesome servant and amazingly selfish. I can be outgoing and extremely shy. I am bold & confident, yet can cower in fear. I can manage my emotions, but have crazy episodes of instability.
Am I not authentic because I am not the same at all times? Is it an impossible standard to be the same all of the time, in every environment?
I went looking to my Bible to see what I could find for my questions. From my reading I think authenticity is more about truth, than it is about how I present myself in any or all given situations.
In John 14:6 (NIV), Jesus says, “I am the way and the truth and the life.” Jesus is the truth. If authenticity is about truth, it should be about Jesus and the way that Jesus is. Jesus is perfect and would be the same Jesus in every environment. Yet, we see there were times when He wept. There were times when he was strong in his words. There were times when he was quiet.
1 John 1:8 (NIV) reads, “if we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” I boldly declare, as I have done many times before, I am a sinner. I sin. A lot. A whole awful lot. Honestly, it is disgusting how much I sin. Every morning I try commit to be better and ever night I am thankful for God’s love & grace because I sure need it.
I am particularly fond of the first part of verse two in James 3:2, “We all stumble in many ways.” Isn’t it amazing how God will just address our questions so directly at times.
Then there is Ecclesiastes chapter 3, the chapter that discusses a “time for everything”; a time to weep & a time to laugh, a time to mourn & a time to dance, a time to be silent & a time to speak. Every time is not the same.
After all my searching and pondering, I still believe that I am an authentic mess. My life is messy and at times feels down right chaotic.
What about you? Do you ever feel that way?
Being an authentic mess does not make us bad. It is who we are. I am a beautiful authentic mess! You are beautiful too!
“The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7 (NIV)
It’s a great thing that God can see through the outward appearance, which can be very disheveled, and looks upon the heart. It brings me great comfort to know that when He does look upon our hearts He sees with eyes of love, compassion and mercy.
Let’s not forget that we are wonderfully made by God’s hand. He knows we are not perfect or the same in every situation. He knew it before we were created. He loves us all. He loves us. He loves us. He loves us.
Dear and Beloved Lord,
Thank You so much for Your eyes that can look upon our hearts. Lord, I pray that what You find there is a heart that truthfully and authentically cries out that You are Lord. May our hearts be ever seeking You and Your love.
Lord, please bring us comfort in times when the mess presses its weight upon us and makes us weary. Remind us to seek out Your Spirit for help and counseling in all of our times – both our ups and our downs. Thank You for Your faithfulness that has always been with us, even when we are turned away.
Most of all, remind us in our days that we are loved and cherished by You. In Jesus’ name, amen.