Humanity. What does it mean to be human? With all our complexity as human beings living in a broken (yet still beautiful) world, it can be easy to get lost on the quest to finding our truest selves. Who do we want to be, and how do we want to show up in the world? I found myself thinking about this and the idea of authenticity while I stepped away from work for a few weeks this summer. I was flooded with thoughts providing clarity around how authenticity is deeply linked to the purpose and intent of Lovelight stories, as well as how I want to continually grow in my own desire to show up authentically - true to the life, purposes, and person God created me to be! I really believe it was God prompting me to stay true to these purposes and true desire for Lovelight stories and beyond. And I think these messages will resonate with you too!
Before we dive in: You likely know there’s so much already written and shared regarding authenticity. Of course, what I’m sharing here is just the tip of the iceberg, but I believe it’s so very important to the inner work God longs for us to do so that we can better love and come closer together in community with Him, others, and ourselves.
So, authenticity. What is it really?
It’s no secret that by nature, humanity is broken. We have difficulties and trials throughout life. Some of us have bad years (ahem, 2020), seasons, months, and we all have bad days, right? Part of authenticity is sharing the good and bad with others so that we can share IN it together. In this way, it’s closely tied to vulnerability and humility. The difficult moments humble us, and when we share them, it brings us together and helps us understand each other! When I’m authentically me, it further encourages you to be authentically you!
What does it really mean to be authentic, and how do we cultivate it in our lives?
It starts with a mindset, an internal realization that you CAN be YOU.
Whether or not other people align with your purpose, values, or personality, God created you with specific dreams, skills, and desires for a REASON! It’s easy to lose our way when there are so many people and opinions vowing for our attention - especially with social media surrounding us at any time of day. I’ve had to step back and ask myself, “What is it that really matters to me?” My answer: following God’s desires for my life and bringing glory to Him through my work of trying to love Him and others.
So, if that’s really the deepest desire of my heart, and he created me with specific plans in mind, why wouldn’t I live authentically in the way he made me to be? Stepping into that will only help me live out my deepest God-given desires, and it will be a whole lot easier too!
What is it that really matters to you?
“Be yourself. Everybody else is already taken.” - Oscar Wilde
Part of being true to who you are is standing up for what you believe in and speaking your own truth. It’s acting in a way that’s congruent with your own beliefs and values. It’s maintaining integrity. It’s simply, (yet not so simply), being your truest self.
Personally, I want others to truly know me for who I am - good and bad alike. As a one on the Enneagram, I’m continually seeking to “perfect” or improve. While I know only perfection is reserved for God, I still strive to be the best person I can be, and sometimes that lends itself to others only seeing the growth I’m striving for. But let me tell you, I’m human and I have struggles too. If you only know the good, you only know half the story, and you really don’t know me, right? So for me, the quest to deeper authenticity is rooted in accepting the things I don’t like about myself or my own story, and continually being open to sharing those things with others when the opportunity presents itself - open to sharing my fears, worries, faults, and struggles. Those of you who know me well, know I already try do this, but it’s important I do it more - continually pressing into the discomfort authenticity begs of me.
Maybe you feel the same. Can you relate?
“To be authentic, we must cultivate the courage to be imperfect — and vulnerable. We have to believe that we are fundamentally worthy of love and acceptance, just as we are. I’ve learned that there is no better way to invite more grace, gratitude and joy into our lives than by mindfully practicing authenticity.”— Brené Brown
There can be a fine line between healthy authenticity and too much authenticity.
Authenticity is NOT:
- Failing to regulate our emotions or the words we say - In fact, high emotional intelligence is an indicator of authenticity. An authentic person, knows themselves and can regulate themselves in congruence with who they are!
- Sharing TMI (too much information) - This can be a tough one. How can we be sure we’re not sharing TMI? What we choose to share should have a purpose rooted in staying true to our deepest held values and beliefs or in serving those who receive our message in some way. With a little intentional practice here, I think this will begin to come naturally, and we’ll touch on this a bit more in an upcoming post about vulnerability!
Ultimately, practicing authenticity in life:
- Creates space for us to be relatable
- Helps others empathize with us, and us with them
- Strengthens our relationships with those around us through the connection created in really knowing and understanding each other
- Gives us the freedom to embrace who we feel called to be
- Pushes us to remain in alignment with who we say we want to be
- Allows our heart to be at peace knowing we’re living in authenticity, and there’s nothing we need to hide. (after all, what is there to hide? We all make mistakes, and the sooner we can deal with them, the sooner we can move forward in growth!)
In her TEDx talk, “The Art of Authenticity: How to Show Up as the Real You”, Misty Gilbert presents a painful, but beautiful representation of what authenticity has looked like in her life. She says, “When we show up authentic, we unapologetically give others the space to accept us as we are.” She also explains how showing up authentically “allows judgment to be reduced, true connection to be established, and love to be born”. Yes! It’s so very true! Her story is powerful and is one you don’t want to miss!
Ultimately, we’re meant for community, and we get to really know one another through sharing our authentic selves first. The more we give of our whole selves, the more we can enter into a deeper relationship with those around us. This is what I want for my own life and that of Lovelight stories too. My hope and desire is to create space for acceptance of true authenticity with love and a little bit of light too!
Tell me! In what other ways can we cultivate authenticity? What does being authentic look like in your life? ✨
"Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It's about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen." - Brene Brown