authenticity isn’t found in the rearview mirror

I’ve often prided myself in my ability to share openly about things I’ve gone through, things I’ve struggled with. But then I realized it was only because they were past tense.

I am being open and honest, but about my then, not my now.

It’s easier to share my weaknesses after I’ve strengthened them. It’s safer to talk about my failures once I’ve bounced back from them.

But it’s not really authenticity if it’s after the fact.

Genuine authenticity is transparent and unguarded and vulnerable.

And while there is some level of that in sharing about past struggles, nothing is quite as authentic as sharing about current struggles.

No matter what else I do in this year of risking more, nothing will be as hard as the risks I take with my heart.

But they are risks I want to take.

I desire the intimacy and closeness that comes with true authenticity. I crave the matchless relational connection that’s borne out of putting my heart on the line.

Even though it leaves me feeling exposed and vulnerable.

I’m learning that with those I trust, I can be naked and unashamed.

So I’m stripping down and working on being more authentic in the moment.

And hoping the “unashamed” part will follow.

Comments

56 Responses to “authenticity isn’t found in the rearview mirror”
  1. Great stuff. I totally feel that and am working on it myself. Praying for you. ((hugs))

    If you can, will you email me? I want to send you something but I cant’ find a way to email you on here. . . . ;)

  2. Remember when we got margs we were talking about getting our crap on those closest to us? It’s easier to show someone the crap after we’ve buried it. Flinging it around while we’re in the thick of it, however, is another thing altogether. I still like my crap boxed up with a bow..with my fears, struggles, doubts all wrapped up nicely and figured out. I don’t like the crap oozing out of being and spewing out of my mouth.

    Realness begets realness and I think you’re right…the only way to be real is to discuss current struggles.

  3. Christina says:

    I had never thought of authenticity that way. People struggle with sharing the past alone. You really are on to something here, Alece. I am grateful for your openess in your current struggle to share your current struggles. See, there’s a start ^_^

  4. This is one of those things I can’t get my head around. I crave authenticity. And want to be real. Really. Really real.

    But sometimes when I am going through a “dark spell” (that sounds ominous) my words are so bleak and harsh. Too bleak and harsh for public. I do unload my feelings with a trusted friend or too. But I think I have to wait until I find some light in the situation to share. Right? I’m not quite sure.

    • totally!

      i was talking more about genuine authenticity in the context of relationships — with people in our lives who are trustworthy. i completely agree that there are a lot of things that are “too bleak and harsh” for our blogs or any other public forum.

      at some point i will wrestle through what authenticity on my blog or as i represent Thrive should look like. for now, i’m starting with pushing myself to be more in-the-moment-real with those i trust the most. i don’t know why that is still so hard for me at times. but God is showing me that it’s right and healthy. and that i can trust some people to hold my heart gently.

  5. Debra says:

    I love that verse in the Bible and I love you. So glad to call you friend!

  6. faith says:

    This is beautiful. Your heart is beautiful. I don’t have anymore thoughts right now. Sorry I’ve been quiet around here lately, I’m quiet in person to right now. All talked out I guess :-) quiet but content. Love you.

  7. Michelle says:

    Authenticity with trusted friends. Unfortunately, not everyone is trustworthy. Some can’t wait to know your stuff just to share your stuff with anyone who will listen. This medium is not the best place for sharing, until you have some things understood in your own mind.

    That said, being vulnerable is just that…being willing to take the hits without defense. To be willing to be wounded…

    • such great definitions, michelle. being willing to be wounded, to take the hits without defense. wow. gotta be honest, seeing it spelled out that way terrifies me! but i know the “wounds of a friend can be trusted”. and i want to trust them. (with a select few.)

      • Michelle says:

        Be very selective, Alece.

        Some claim safe havens, but end up vipers’ nests.
        Being bit a few times too many has made me quite cautious.

        I do trust my Friend who sticks closer than a brother.

        • i’ve been bit more times than i care to remember. so i completely understand.

          and even in those few (few as in… two?!) relationships where i put real-me out there, my heart struggles greatly with it. still. even after trustworthiness has been proven. my past experiences keep my fears rising to the surface.

          but it’s a fight i’m willing to keep fighting with those few who are fighting to do the same with me.

          even when it terrifies me.

          • Michelle says:

            You’ve been given much tenacity. He must have made you a fighter for a purpose. Hopefully for what you’ve already endured, I pray the remainder of your life won’t be so difficult. But if He sees fit to allow more suffering…I doubt He will find one more faithful than you.

            Daniel 11:32b comes to mind:

            The people who know their God will display strength and take action.

            Makes me think of you…
            Love you, Alece. FYP

  8. Sharing struggles we are going through now is the hardest—fear of rejection, fear of judgment, the desire to appear like we have it all together…all these things rattle around in our heads and hearts, completely at war with how we are called to be—real, honest, open NOW so that others can see God’s glory THROUGH how we handle it, clinging to God’s hand all the way.

    Even when we struggle, we can struggle well. Even when we fail, we can fail well. Even when we suffer, we can suffer well.

    Love you!!

  9. This is something I am working on. It definitely is a RISK… BIG risk.

  10. Michele says:

    We’re only as authentic as we feel safe. And, unfortunately, it seems we search for safety in all the wrong places at times. The more I find my safety in the right place (Psalm 91), the more freedom I’ll find in authenticity. In this moment. Without needing to “fix myself” in order to truly BE myself.

  11. @ngie
    @
    says:

    You are just Little-Miss-Take-the-Bull-by-the-Horns, aren’t you!?

  12. Bonnie says:

    It is much easier to talk about past vulnerabilities, isn’t it? We’ve overcome, learned, grown… it’s not a weakness anymore or it’s one we’ve “accepted” as ours. How hard it is, definitely, to share whatever is hurting us in the “now.” We don’t want to appear weak, out of sorts, as if we can’t hold it all together… On the other hand, I’m starting to wonder just how much we’re supposed to talk, to “get out.” I’m wondering…how much of what bothers me do I take to the Word? I certainly talk a lot but how much time am I spending finding out what God thinks of it? I’m talking me here…not pointing fingers anywhere…you’ve just hit on a subject I’ve been thinking about lately. Am I supposed to allow others to see my weaknesses or am I to show how that weakness is strengthened by Christ and what, exactly, does that look like? How do I live that, show that? I’m walking that same road a bit, I think. Just starting to wonder why I use “I” a lot when I’m doing it… Do I glorify God in what He does with it all? Do I do that well? Works in progress… Heard something the other day and it kind of clarified a way for me to verbally explain what I’ve been sorting through – all change is not sanctification. I’m trying to sort through what is and isn’t making me more Christlike. What a road….

    • such great thoughts here, bonnie. love seeing your wrestling process. you hit on something that i want to open up for discussion in another blog post — about the line between speaking in faith and speaking honestly about where we’re at. because i think that place gets very blurred, and people (myself included) can have the tendency to lean to one extreme or the other. but i know Jesus must have a better way for us…

  13. Melissa says:

    wow. Reading this was incredibly powerful. I struggle with shame when it comes to being honest about my struggles physically, emotionally, spiritually. I am too more confident when it comes to sharing about what I have had time to think about, and have walked away stronger from. It is far different opening myself up, all of myself, as the struggles are happening.

    Jesus is opening up my heart, asking me to entrust myself to Him, to speak the Truth about Him as I struggle and yes, I have to pull up the shield and the sword to defend against the arrows of fear and shame that Satan shoots at me when I risk vulnerability.

    So thank you for taking risks and I’m praying God gives me the same courage.

  14. Nikki says:

    Beautiful. Just beautiful.

  15. I love your heart. I am so grateful for your unedited risk.

    I get so stuck with the line between being authentic and real vs. not giving what I value to people who are not responsible with me. My heart is my greatest value and my greatest protection.

    I desire to be real and unedited, but the present heart edits for sake of damage control.

    gimme skydiving and bungee jumping any day of the week before the risk of my heart. I would even jump out of a plane or off a platform naked before my heart thinks about undressing.

    • i hear you on the pearls-before-swine thing. i can’t give all of “real me” to everyone, for that very reason. but i need to do it more with those i have a trusting relationship with. (i’m thinking that’s what jesus did with his inner-circle 3.)

      “before my heart thinks about undressing” — so well-said, SL!

      thank you for being safe for me to be unsafe with. thank you for holding my real, raw, unedited heart gently.

  16. coop says:

    My heart ACHES so badly for authenticity. To be unedited and real. And while i dont have peers who understand that or me, love me, are real to me or themselves, etc, i don’t think that’s the core issue. I’m good at being authentic with God about what has already happened, what’s gone, what’s done, what’s broken etc. But i sometimes struggle with being real and authentic with Him in the here and the now. Authenticity with Him is something I want to actively pursue. I don’t actively try to not be authentic. But in order to be honest with Him I need to actively work on putting the present coop out there. That’s probably true with other relationships too. If you aren’t actively working on risking it, you will end up not being as real and unedited. But I know that if I don’t know how to pursue complete authenticity with God and don’t, none of my other relationships will have the vulnerability, intimacy, love, real-ness, and authenticity I want. I know I need to work on risking it with God because of how my relationship with Him will determine all my other relationships.

  17. Sigh. I’ve been working on this…constantly reminding myself to trust that the people I confide in won’t do the same thing that the last person I exposed myself to did.

    I want to move beyond sharing the gist of the situation. The people who care enough to break down the wall can’t do so if I’m constantly adding more bricks.

    I took a step forward yesterday…and now I’m fighting the urge to retreat.

  18. Lisa says:

    I so want to connect authentically with others, to get past the superficialities. I’m starved for real connection; but I think I’m learning that it’s a rare bird to find that. And I think I’m also learning that there are things that only should be shared with God, or my husband.

    I read something earlier today that was a good reminder for me. It talked about how we have loved God, but trusted people. Which has led to deep disappointment, usually because of unmet expectations. But really, we’re to trust God, and love people. As Ps. 118:8 says, “It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.” To learn that He is the only One who will never fail or disappoint you. The article was in an E-Newsletter by Alice Smith, and it spoke to me.

    • hmmmm… it gets me thinking about the fuzzy line that seems to be there. “better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man” — better? no doubt. but does that mean i shouldn’t trust people? no, not really. it’s the how-much that i tend to be unsure about. how much is too much? how little is just me leaning into my fears and playing it safe? i’m still not sure…

      • Lisa says:

        I’m definitely not saying that we’re to go into caves and not trust anyone other than God. People *should* be trustworthy – ***especially*** in the church. We should be able to rely on, and rest in, that — at differing degrees, based on what we’re sharing and if they’ve proven themselves trustworthy. But even then, that trust can be betrayed. That’s the scary part, I guess. Or maybe the scary part is *expressing the hurt*, followed by the re-building of trust after that.

        I need to be less surprised and disappointed when people aren’t who I think they are. Not to keep everyone at arm’s length, but…… to not be so surprised. And disappointed. And hurt. Because I am.

        Maybe I just need a better realization that I disappoint people, too, to see the grace that’s shown me? I don’t know. I certainly don’t have it all figured out.

        • i’m still always surprised and disappointed and hurt, too. but i’m not sure how to trust and at the same time NOT be hurt when it’s broken.

          the fact that trust can always be betrayed is what makes trust, by far, one of the greatest ongoing risks of my life.

  19. Jenny says:

    Ok – so I love the title so much that I can’t get beyond it!!! it will be something that I chew on for awhile… LOVE love love it…

    Will read the post tomorrow because the title is so good I don’t want to lose anything from it :)

    J

  20. Jason says:

    I have a hard time being authentic without being too transparent. If you get to the point where you just don’t care and you’re an open book you can get backlash from the Christians who aren’t comfortable with complete authenticity. So you start to put up walls and boundaries…thus making yourself less authentic.

    Good post today…thanks for making me think. :)

  21. This is so true! I really relate to this post. Not to ‘plug’ my blog or anything, but its http://www.beckwattier.wordpress.com. Im calling it A Year of Daring. This year I’m really trying to focus on pushing myself in a number of different areas. I came to the realization last week that going into the year I was prepared to ‘dare’ to do things I already knew I could handle so in reality it wasnt REALLY daring. I’m trying to challenge myself to go further and dig deeper. Encouraging to see other people doing the same.

  22. Katy
    @
    says:

    haibo….so true for me. I’m finding it much easier to be authentic in the past tense especially in a place where I’m building and rebuilding relationships. I crave that community I left behind and yet know that it doesn’t happen over night. Along with that, I’m learning to share my story/parts of it in a way that emphasizes the where I’m at now and who I am now rather than who I was…

  23. I’ve never really thought about this before…

    I always prided myself on not be afraid to share deep parts of me, but I never realized that I don’t usually share my heart I just share the past. The stuff I’m dealing with seems so much uglier and awful. Like, if I share THAT stuff, no one will ever like me. I forget that other people are imperfect too. Thanks for this, Alece. I needed to hear it.

  24. Amy
    @
    says:

    oh my cow… so dang true… SO DANG HARD.

  25. Jenny says:

    Nice! I chewed on the title yesterday cuz it was so good… the post is even better…

    I love how you see things. You are SO right on target and I had never thought about that before, how authenticity is not authentic if it is in the past … becasue past things we can filter.. but the “in the moment” stuff is raw, unfiltered…. and you are right – it is soooo hard in the moment to be authentic. What if we get rejected for being who we are….eeeee just thinking about it makes me squirm.

    I much prefer the rear-view mirror.

  26. annie says:

    “I’m learning that with those I trust, I can be naked and unashamed.”

    Me too. I’m also attempting to be naked and unashamed in order to build trust. Which … feels very naked. And not a little bit scary.

  27. Adriane says:

    wow….you have no idea how much I needed to hear this right now
    that is something I have battled with
    for years

    and breaking habits are hard, but I’m learning that they’re worth it

  28. Terri Poss says:

    As I was rereading the comments here, I was reminded of a Nichole Nordeman concert I attended at McLean Bible Church a few years back, right before “Brave” released. She shared that evening about some of the struggles she and her husband were experiencing in their marriage. Nothing detailed just that they were struggling. And then she talked about how it seems that within the Christian community we only share the testimony of God’s glory after the fact, rather than in the midst of the difficulty. I was so moved that she would risk that kind of personal information in public and be that real and transparent. I struggle with the transparency thing. It seems that so much of my life has been open for public consumption that I just want to keep some things to myself, but I do generally share things when I’m given the opportunity of the right context. That whole ‘casting pearls before swine” is an ever-present consideration hovering in the back of my mind.

    • wow – that is huge that nichole did that. such a huge risk for her in so many ways.

      and i agree about the “pearls before swine” – our hearts are treasures, not intended just to be put out there for others to trample on… finding that proper balance is where the struggle in the journey lies for me—the balance between trusting close friends with my heart as well as being authentic “in general” with those i haven’t built trust with yet, simply because i’m called to be truthful and real.

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