Can We Go Too Far With Authenticity?
The other night right before I got into bed to crash after a long day of equally praising and correcting my two littles, a thought came to me that needed to be processed. At the end of each day, my husband and I share our brokenness. We have always been a “what you see is what you get” couple, but this particular evening, I didn’t want to remain in the mess.
As my husband was lying there half asleep waiting for the last of the lights to be turned off and the cool fan to be positioned just right so he could sleep with a breeze while I bundled up in my cocoon, I decided to keep him up an extra few minutes. I needed to clear out my heart and head alongside my companion, rather than to battle it alone and lose sleep.
I said to him, “Authenticity is one of my highest values. I love seeing people living their lives being free and honoring who they were created to be, but I think there’s a fine line, and what happens when authenticity starts to come before God and we are trapped in the authentic parts of us that we aren’t meant to carry?”
As my sweet husband always does, he either has amazing wisdom to share right away, or he needs the time to process my thoughts before formulating a response. He agreed that this is an issue in the Christian world today, and neither of us had seen it addressed. We needed time to mull over the topic a bit more before we were ready to dive in head first.
Well, just this morning social media decided to address my concerns when a friend shared an old article from The Gospel Coalition called “Has Authenticity Trumped Holiness?”
I struggled with reading the article a bit at first because of my personal journey. The people mentioned in the first few paragraphs like Donald Miller and Anne Lamott were very influential on my journey, and I believe God gave them the words so many of us needed to hear to understand grace. I also think the writer of the article was a little harsh. In my opinion, encouraging authenticity needed to happen for this world and has drawn many people to the Lord. Yet, there were still many great points the writer made.
For the longest time, I did not live true to myself. Looking around, it seemed like people always had to put on an act to claim the name of Christ and to simply “be good” or I guess “look” as if they were being good. When I began to lead an authentic life and make it my mission to encourage others to do the same, I finally understood the grace of God! I mean, Jesus was the most authentic person ever alive. But just like every good lesson humanity tries to adopt, it can be taken too far. Jesus was authentic, but he also fled from temptation.
“There’s this idea that to live out of conformity with how I feel is hypocrisy; but that’s a wrong definition of hypocrisy,” Thoennes said. “To live out of conformity to what I believe is hypocrisy. To live in conformity with what I believe, in spite of what I feel, isn’t hypocrisy; it’s integrity.”
So those moments where I am living authentically and still seeing hope in Christ and building on my relationship with Him is when my soul feels aligned and my joy unbridled. The times when I am sitting in my brokenness unable to see past the fog, and sometimes unwilling to, are the moments when I am putting my authentic life before a holy one.
It’s important to know that the messy parts of us are freely covered by grace, but God wants us to understand grace so we can understand His love and the hope we have in Him — not so that we can get free passes to live a life of “authentic” sin.
So those times that I admit to being selfish, jealous, or prideful are important to my Christian walk. But I should not wear those badges around proudly holding them as my only labels. I AM SO MUCH MORE! Yes, authentically I am those things, but I am also loving, brave, and loyal. I am an imperfect mother but perfect for my kids. I am often unfit for my job, but I’m serving the Lord using my gifts and somehow, my words impact people.
Yes, Downs Ups & Teacups will continue to remain an authentic place to be every part of yourself. We will continue to share stories of vulnerability, messiness, and brokenness. But we will never LEAVE you there. Because here we have hope! We have hope that we don’t have to be enough because GOD IS! We have hope that we don’t have to label ourselves in negative ways because we are MORE. And we will continue together to choose a life that is both authentic and holy.
There is still much for me to learn on this topic. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with some of your thoughts!