I was listening to a recording telling listeners how we need to live authentically. Be yourself. Be you. Immediately I thought, “No! Don’t! I dislike the ‘you’ so very much! It’s not ‘who’ you are meant to be! You can be better than that!”
Then I realized we all live behind a mask that we present to the world. It may be the “real you” or it may be just the image you chose to project. Perhaps there is someone hiding behind the mask that would love to make an entrance and perhaps be the change you so desperately need.
If what’s hidden happens to be the most authentic you imaginable, think with me a moment how we’ve all hidden this version ourselves at one time or another. We present how we are taught to be, or how we think others expect us to be. You know this is true!
It got me to thinking down a wholly different vein of thought on learning to live authentically in this day when nothing seems to be real. Afterall, Hollywood has perfected the Green Screen experience and the actor assumes the role of faking the “action” so that the programmers can add the backdrop. My kids have done this at Disney and Hanna Barbera where they assume the position in front of a green screen and the director tells them what to do and they respond. Marry the computer animation with their antics and the end result is them in a Scooby Do episode or flying the bumblebee in “Honey I Shrunk the Kids” movie.
We are taught young how to put on our “game face” and persevere through life. “Buck up” and “quit crying like a girl”. Now, I know I probably went through some of these moments when an adult wished I would start acting like a “grown-up”, even though I was just a youngster, and I probably repeated the same mistakes with younger ones when I became that adult! But somewhere around the world right now, someone is being challenged to “suck it up” and “be a man”.
Even Frankie Valli was singing, “Big girls don’t cry” back in the 60’s, and we all know that’s not true!
Something about these challenges to the moment teaches us that we are to hide away our emotions, reactions, and feelings and show others “how it’s done”. It makes us either very good at controlling our impulses, or we are talented at being fake.
But we all have learned response mechanisms that we have gleaned from the world we are part of, and we have picked up more responses when we see the results that others get with their style.
Think about it. If politicians are to be successful, I’ve heard, they must have “thick skin” to withstand the barbs and criticisms thrown their way and keep going their chosen path. Well, this same lesson is something we’ve all learned as others are allowed to let their emotions rule while we must be the “adult” and keep ours in check.
It’s not that we need to learn how to be in control, rather, we should all learn how not to be out of control.
It’s too easy to let our emotions rule the day.
But are not emotions an “authentic” way we respond? Sure. But our emotions do get the better of our response to challenges and we will probably lose the contest if we cannot bring ourselves under some semblance of control. You know, we go from a “slow burn” to an outright boiling, churning, and lash out with a temper tantrum that reminds everyone of a 2-year-old! When the better response should have been to “shelve the feeling” and deal with the facts in a calm and austere demeanor.
As a pastor, I find I must learn to control my responses to everything that comes down the pike. An “out of control” personality can hamstring your growth when others see you at perhaps one of your lackluster moments. It is one of the most difficult things to control your automatic response, and think about what’s best for the moment.
I’m not always good at it, but I do work on it. Often!
I take comfort that there is a better response to everything and that can be my authentic way of living. The Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians and asked this question:
What do you want? Shall I come to you with a rod, or in love and a spirit of gentleness? (1 Corinthians 4:21 NKJV)
How do you want the “authentic” person on the other side to respond to you? If you want authenticity, then perhaps you need to learn how to be better at being authentic in all parts of your response to others.
Jesus says it like this: “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” (Luke 6:38 NKJV)
Perhaps authentic living needs to adapt to the situation, but being authentic never fails us.
One last thought. After Jesus was gone, his followers all wanted to be more like him. They were first called Christ-like in Antioch, not Jerusalem (Acts 11:26). Peter and Paul both spent time teaching and writing about how to be more Christ-like. Admittedly Paul did it more because we have his letters to churches and leaders (1 Corinthians 7:5, 9, Galatians 523, 1 Timothy 2:15, 2 Timothy 3:3), but Peter does throw in his own version of the teaching.
But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:5-8 NKJV)
Our authenticity comes by mirroring ourselves into the image of the one we want to be like the most or the one we want to be around the most. We see people dressing the part of some character they admire or some role they want to play, and we all know that’s not the real person. But when we choose to be like Christ then we look for the examples in the Bible, and the teaching from his followers, so that we can discern the authenticity that will take us far down the road of life.
Were Peter and Paul perfect in their roles? No. It was still something they had to learn to do every day. Be more like Jesus. Peter denied he even knew Christ and fled into the night (John 13:38) and before Paul even knew the authentic Christ he sought to persecute Christians, sending them to prison and death (Acts 9). Paul even desired to know him better once Christ was revealed to him (Philippians 3:10)
Dig it out. You’ll find this is true.Your authentic self is developed by something and someone. Why not pick a better role model? Click To Tweet