Authenticity [aw-then-tis-i-tee, n-] "of undisputed origin, genuine, reliable, trustworthy"
Recently I visited a stately home in the UK, built in the 1700s and renovated in 1920. The owners had tried to replicate the furnishings as genuinely as possible but in one room it was clear that the wall coverings were not original or authentic to the house. From a distance they looked correct but on closer inspection, they were patently not from 1700.
One of the deep cries of today’s society is the desire for authenticity. We buy artisan bread, original designed clothing, coffee of origin and we gravitate to the friends who are genuinely themselves, who are almost guileless in their authenticity.
So what is it about authenticity? What is it about the person who is totally happy in their own skin? It's infectious; it seeps into our soul and releases us to be happy too. And stirs up in us a longing to be that authentic and genuine.
Yet something stops us from going that far; so we fake it as well as the 1920s wall furnishings, all the time wanting something more. What is it that stops us being our original selves?
Brené Brown, in Daring Greatly, would argue that it is the fear of being vulnerable, of not being enough, the risk of being rejected when we 'show up' as ourselves - original, genuine. And if we are honest, that's really what it is. It's the thoughts that tell us that 'I'm not enough', 'no-one would like me if they really knew me'. Or the curse of comparison, that train of toxic thoughts that builds momentum as we look at others' gifting, career, personality or profile and make the judgement that we are not up to scratch and we will never be.
Being authentic is a daily, hourly decision of honest courage. It is living in the knowledge that I am loved outrageously by my heavenly Father, that He is delighted in me and that I have strengths, weaknesses and personality that are unique, wonderful, original and created by Him for His glory. It is having the courage to be true to what I think and how I am made – yes, even my quirky personality.
It is drawing a line on or getting healing for the past that has shut me down or boxed me in, forgiving and breaking into the new. It is counteracting and replacing the negative thoughts that assault us every minute of every day. It is joining arms with others to walk this daily road together. Of speaking the truth in love, or challenging behaviour which resists authenticity, of habitually 'calling out the gold' in each other.
This is in the front of my new journal: 'Tired of trying to cram her sparkly star-shaped self into society's beige square holes, she chose to embrace her ridiculous awesomeness and shine like the freaking supernova she was meant to be.'
I am still learning, but I am beginning to shine more and to be more ridiculous! The future is bright.
And as for that beautiful house, it will still delight visitors, yet the most discerning of them will know that something is not quite true. Maybe it will be always be a visual reminder to me to have the courage, use resources and, well, just do it: be authentic, original, trustworthy. It was what I was made to be!!