Tuesday, September 21, 2010

How Important Is It?

Our small group has an interesting format. Mostly we just talk about our lives - sharing them with each other and praying about them. We like to joke that we are the small group about nothing - no Bible studies, no books to read, just fellowship pure and simple. Recently we decided to add one more small component: The Question Of The Day(TM). The Question is something that I come up with, some kind of intellectual or emotional question about God, life with Him, or how we ought to live as Christ followers. Eventually the discussion comes down to how it impacts our lives.

Last week my question was this: "How important is being authentic to following Christ?" I defined being authentic as being real - being open and honest with yourself and others. We had an interesting discussion. There is no commandment to be real with other people . . . but, isn't not being real a form of deception (or lieing)? And how can you grow as a person if you aren't letting someone (or some people) know what you are truly thinking, feeling, experiencing, and wanting? Some people were honest about how the idea of being authentic made them feel - kind of scared actually. We agreed that you don't have to be fully transparent with everyone you meet (that would be quite exhausting) but definitely it's helpful to be real with someone.

How can we grow if we don't show people our true selves? If we don't allow someone into our inner world, they can't speak God's love, grace, and wisdom into it. Worse, we let all the bad thinking (thinking that needs desperately to be challenged) to just keep going around and around in our heads, unhindered. Here's a question: How authentic, how real are you with people? If you've been hurt in the past, are shy, or feel like you shouldn't need to tell people about your inner life then I'm guessing this idea is not pleasant. But how can we grow without it?

Personally I believe we all have a secret addiction to wearing masks, masks so that we don't have to show anyone what we feel we really are. I know I do it sometimes. I don't usually want people to know that I have fears, that I doubt myself, and that I do things that are contrary to my desires and ideals. Yet don't we tire of the masks? It's often scary to put them down, yet when we do we usually find a soul-renewing relief in it. After all, it takes a lot of energy to wear our masks (and the twisted thinking that comes with them). My challenge: Look at yourself. There's probably at least one thing that you wish you could talk about honestly with someone. Why not take a risk and share it with someone you think is safe? With your spouse, a friend, a family member, a counselor, a pastor. The more you share of yourself with safe people the easier it will get and the more authentic you will become. Good luck!

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