“Authentic connection can only come from authenticity.”
Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – November 15, 2022
Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts . . . Psalm 51:6
I love my job. When I’m not writing for Wisdom Hunters, I coach over-30, single women to help them overcome the internal—and external—obstacles that are keeping them from marriage. A couple of weeks ago I had the joyous honor of attending the wedding of Anne, one of my coaching clients.
When she and I started working together, she shared something that was troubling her: “The men I am interested in aren’t interested in me, and the ones who are interested in me, I’m not interested in. This makes me feel like I’m not enough or like there is something wrong with me” she said.
As I like to do, I asked her questions to figure out what was going on, and we made an encouraging discovery: When she was relaxed and being herself, men were interested in her (the ones whose attention she did not seek), but when she was wearing a mask and not being her authentic self, men weren’t interested in her (those whose attention she did want).
“Do you see what is happening?” I asked. “You are enough!” I exclaimed. “When you are just yourself with the men who don’t interest you, they are interested!”
When she embraced this new-found revelation, she decided to just be herself in all her future interactions with men, even with those men who interested her and made her feel a little nervous. This decision was an important first step that led her to the wedding altar this fall where she said “I do” to a wonderful, godly man who adores her for who she is.
Not unlike many of us, when Anne wasn’t connecting with men it was because she was wearing a mask to protect herself from rejection. Ironically, her mask was creating rejection. When we wear masks, we forfeit true relational connection that could be ours if we would just be ourselves. As I tell my clients, you can’t be loved for you if you aren’t being authentically you. Authentic connection can only come from authenticity.
This means that I am not posturing or posing to impress out of fear or insecurity. I am not pretending to be someone I am not. In his book, Abba’s Child, Brennan Manning talks about the “false self” or “imposter.”
“When I was eight, the impostor, or false self, was born as a defense against pain. The impostor within whispered, ‘Brennan, don’t ever be your real self anymore because nobody likes you as you are. Invent a new self that everybody will admire and nobody will know.'”
In response, John Eldredge writes, “Notice the key phrase: ‘as a defense against pain,’ as a way of saving himself. The impostor is our plan for salvation.”
But the imposter doesn’t save. It robs. Masks steal true connection and in the place of the peace of belonging, we experience fear, relational anxiety, and torment.
God created each person He created to fit into His divine puzzle. Every person belongs. But without you being your authentic self, the puzzle is incomplete. Without authentic you, the true connections God created you to have will be hindered. No one can connect with an imposter so you will feel alienated.
When I was a little girl, I used to sing a popular song from church: “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.” Each of us has an individual light that comes from the Creator which makes us a unique gift for the world. But if you cover up your light by wearing a mask, or by becoming the imposter, others cannot be blessed by the real you.
“So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, ‘If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free’” (John 8:31-32).
Lord, give me the courage I need to be real with those around me. Help me to stand by the truth that authentic connection cannot happen when I am not authentic and that I can’t be a blessing to others when I am pretending to be someone I am not. Amen.
Practice what you learned today with others and then journal how you feel about being yourself.
Steven Curtis Chapman: Fingerprints of God
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