Think about the last person you met who seemed confident, easy-going, and peaceful.
What characteristics did you notice in that person?
When I think about an authentic person, I picture one woman.
- Older, small, with a large smile for everyone
- Physically weak
- Kind voice
- Present with you
After getting to know her and some of her story, I continued to observe her interactions with others. In every case, she exhibited the same characteristics.
The same with everyone and in all circumstances.
Free to be authentic to herself.
What does it mean to be free to be authentic?
Some synonyms for authentic are genuine, real, legitimate, original, honest, faithful, and the “real deal.” These additional descriptors describe this woman perfectly. Quietly confident, she responded gently and peacefully to those around her. Getting to be in her home, I noticed the same behavior with her family, even under very trying circumstances.
How can you learn the freedom to be authentic?
1. Know your value.
Original. You are unique. Even if you are an identical twin, there is something about you that no one has. It could be a feature, talent, gift, or ability. You might look like another person, but you remain an individual. Celebrate these uniquenesses.
When God created you, he made you wonderfully complex. Those complexities provide richness to your life and all those you meet and interact with. Your rough edges invite you to grow and learn, to become all you were created to be. You and I live small when we try to live someone else’s life, to become like them (we can’t because they are unique, too), dress like them, talk like them, and follow their dreams. In those choices, you rarely find fulfillment and joy because that’s not following your uniqueness.
Today, value being the authentic, real, original you.
2. Understand your place.
You aren’t alive today by mistake. I used to think I’d been born in the wrong time period because I loved many things from 100 years earlier. However, those ideas were formed from idealizing a certain life. In truth, that life was brutal, filled with many of the same struggles we face today, and not quite as “rosy” as I imagined.
God placed you here at this time for a specific reason. In the book of Esther in the Bible, we see a Jewish slave girl brought to her captor’s palace for the express purpose of pleasing the King sexually. She couldn’t refuse this placement. But God took Esther’s obedience and used this simple girl to speak the truth to the King and save the entire captive nation of Israel.
You might not be the next Billy Graham, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, or Sandra Bullock. That’s good because they aren’t you. Where has God placed you? Your authenticity allows God to bless others through you and enrich your relationship with him in the process.
3. Treasure your purpose.
Pastor Greg Surratt says, “If you have a pulse, you have a purpose.” You are God’s masterpiece, made in order to show his goodness and redemption to others. Your purpose today is to do what is before you, use your understanding of your value, where you are, the connections you have, and your circumstances to show others something about God and his goodness in your life.
Being authentic draws others to you. They see something in you that appeals, and they want it. Another bonus—when you authentically live out your purpose, you are free to be you.
Practicing authenticity requires freedom from caring what other people think. But it also makes us vulnerable. And perhaps that’s what causes our hesitation. Our best example of authenticity is Jesus. He who never sinned bore the weight of our sin so we could spend eternity with him.
“Honesty and transparency make you vulnerable. Be honest and transparent anyway.”
– Mother Teresa
What prevents you from being free to be authentic?
If you need help processing, please reach out for help.