The Hardest Part of an Authentic Life

 

One day your dirty laundry is going to be hung out to dry.

 

Jesus warned, “The time is coming when everything that is covered up will be revealed, and all that is secret will be made known to all” (Luke 12:2).

 

Think about that for a minute. Everything. Every rotten thing you’ve ever done. Every single thing you’ve ever said, thought, or envisioned in the privacy of your mind, is going on display for all to see. Yikes! That’s the kind of stuff that might lead a girl to drink.

 

As horrifying as that thought is, it’s not nearly as scary when you dedicate yourself to the second essential of an authentic life, Exposing your Weaknesses. By cultivating a habit of revealing yourself now, there will be far less to fear in the future, and more blessings than you can imagine in the present.

 

 

AUTHENTICITY IN THE BEGINNING

 

In the last post, The Beginning of an Authentic Life, we looked at the first essential of authenticity, Knowing and Expressing Your Personality. To live consistently as your true self, you first need to know how you were made, and what God intended in your design.   

The reason I began our discussion on authenticity with knowing what is good about you before I addressed what is not-so-good about you (the tough stuff we will talk about today), is because the Bible does it that way.

We tend to think of the human story beginning with fallenness and ending with redemption, but that’s not entirely true. Before sin entered the world, in the third chapter of Genesis, there were two chapters before that telling of God, in His collective huddle, doing good things and making us in His image.

 

“Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground” (Genesis 1:26).

 

Your story doesn’t start with sin, it starts with likeness. Never forget that.

As Andy Crouch says in his book, Playing God, our story starts with “the original good creation” and ends with “the glorious new creation.” Being made in God’s image with a slice of His personality, is more original to your design than what is wrong with you. Yes, sin has done a number on you, and you (and I) have strayed from God’s best, but the Holy Spirit’s sanctifying presence in your life can redeem what is good about your authentic self and bring glory out of ashes.

Knowing that you are originally a good creation will provide the padding necessary to admit and expose the weaknesses of your current state.

 

WHY AUTHENTIC EXPOSURE IS HARD

 

Why is exposing your weaknesses so hard? I can tell you in one word, shame.

 

Like it did for Adam and Eve, shame creates a disturbing sense of nakedness and a pressing urge to cover up and hide. You will feel ashamed when you blow it, screw up, are weak, and imperfect. You will feel ashamed when you doubt, are depressed, or angry as heck. Shame sets in when you aren’t obedient to the “shoulds” in your life (ie. you should be smaller, taller, smarter, fuller, happier, lighter, thinner, nicer, or generally more talented.) You will feel ashamed that you aren’t “better than that”, “over your issue”, or motivated to soldier on.

Shame is a product of sin but it can rear its ugly head even when sin is not present. It pops up when you don’t know the answer, your children melt down in public, you don’t have enough money, you spill juice down your front, or you wet your pants on the trampoline (that might just be me). No sin here, just embarrassment over what is considered weakness.

Shame is the reason you don’t want to disclose or as one of my clients says, “share down to your bare bones.” That unholy sense of disgrace taps into your deepest fear that, in your authentic state with all your junk hanging out, you are unloveable. Unacceptable. Unrespectable. Unpresentable. (I think I hear the Logical Song from Supertramp coming on.) Shame frightens you into believing that something is deeply wrong with you, making you vulnerable to and worthy of judgment, condemnation, and ultimately rejection-the very things believers in Christ have already been rescued from (Matthew 7:1, Romans 8:1,  Hebrews 13:5).

 

WHY AUTHENTIC EXPOSURE IS GOOD

 

So after all that bad news, why should anyone scorn the shame and expose their weaknesses? Because there is lots of good news, namely the acceptance, connection, and presence of God found in this essential of authentic living.

 

Authentic Exposure Offers Acceptance.  

 

Acceptance is an amazing thing. It’s that feeling of being seen-especially on your darker days when your nose won’t stop running, you’re late with the report, you said a dumb thing, you lost your last friend-and still welcomed. Granted, you’ll need some safe people to do this, people who know that sin, struggle, and weakness don’t make you unloveable, they just make you human. People who don’t judge because they’ve been there themselves. People who don’t condemn because they are aware of their own failings and know that “kindness,” not condemnation, “leads to repentance” (Romans 2:4). You need people who don’t reject your authenticity because they know it’s the most beautiful, courageous thing they’ve ever seen.

If you would like to know more about finding safe people, you can watch my message, How to Find Authentic Friends.

Here’s what’s important:  You will never experience the acceptance of your authentic self until someone sees your authentic self and gets the chance to accept you. Exposure is the only way this happens. 

 

 Authentic Exposure Offers Connection.

 

1 John 1:7 tells us that “if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.”  

Living in the light by coming out of darkness and hiding, is the way to true connection and fellowship with others. 

Have you ever noticed how hard it is to connect to someone who has it all together all the time? Who never struggles, never yells (that’s a good one), never messes up, and always wears a smile. They are so shiny you simply slide right off them. Real connection requires some grit, something real to hold on to, something you can relate to, and exposure provides just that.

 

Authentic Exposure Offers God’s Presence

 

Pastor Chip Ingram, in his book Holy Ambition, points out that there are “only two places where God dwells completely unhindered… two places where there is enough room for God to be all that He really is.”  The first place is heaven and the second is a contrite heart.”

For thus says the One who is high and lifted up,
    who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:
“I dwell in the high and holy place,
    and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit,
to revive the spirit of the lowly,
    and to revive the heart of the contrite. (Isaiah 57:15)

If you want to experience more of God’s presence in your life and more of His power to enliven your heart, then you will need to cultivate a lowly spirit through the practice of exposure. 

This is exactly how Jesus begins his inaugural address in the Sermon on the Mount. As the crowd settles and quiets to hear what God will say, Jesus begins with this, “Blessed are those who know they are spiritually poor, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3).

God reserves His greatest blessing for those who know they are spiritually poor, flawed, and in great need. There is room for Him in a humble heart that is able to confess this and there is a place in His kingdom for those who expose.

 

 

A day is coming for the spiritually poor, when “they will walk with me (Jesus), dressed in white, for they are worthy” (Revelation 3:4)

I urge you, embrace the second essential of authenticity, by airing what is dirty now, so that in the end, you will be clean.

 

 

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