“Authenticity is a daily practice of letting go of who we think we should be and becoming who we are.” -Brenee Brown
pretty enough to share an unfiltered picture,
eloquent enough to write, speak, or share my perspective,
smart or experienced enough to make that dream happen,
secure enough to share that struggle, weakness, or part of my story,
a good enough parent, spouse, employee, or friend as I need to be.
No one would ever…
want to be with me,
or love me if they knew the real me.
put up walls,
shut myself off,
don’t share my input or speak up,
edit, filter, and second guess myself,
and am never fully known.
Sound familiar? Yeah, me too. But I’m a mess and we all are, at least the ones honest enough to admit it.
I am the last person in the school pickup line on most days of the week.
I shower less often than I should because God bless dry shampoo.
I use frozen or pre-made Costco meals just as much as I make homemade dishes.
My husband and I are still very much figuring out how to communicate.
But these authentic, messy stories aren’t the ones we’re sharing on social media. Sometimes these aren’t the stories that we’re sharing with those closest to us.
WHEN IT BEGINS
As babies and toddlers, my little girls looked at me with those beautiful blues, longing to be seen, known, and loved and didn’t ever try to be someone they were not.
As school-aged kids, I see them second guessing every outfit and hair style and coming home with their confidence increasingly deflated after mean comments at recess. They’ve already begun believing the lies that they’re not enough.
It hurts my heart to see them losing that, “Want to play?” with a random kid at the park spirit they once had; to see them putting facades up rather than being their true, silly selves.
This is long before we even approach middle school, social media comparison, and the smart phone game, so help me God. 🙁
Why do we base how we feel about ourselves so much on what other people say? Why do we compare the worst of our stories to the best of others?
What would happen if we just didn’t?
WHEN GOD CALLS YOU OUT OF HIDING
“When the woman realized that she couldn’t remain hidden, she knelt trembling before him. In front of all the people, she blurted out her story—why she touched him and how at that same moment she was healed.” -Luke 8:4-7
This woman had been afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years. She slipped in and secretly touched the edge of Jesus’ robe and her hemorrhaging stopped. Jesus looked to the crowd and said, “Who touched me?”
This woman was scared to own her illness, audacity, and trust in Him. She was scared, ashamed even, to own her story until she was given no other choice.
When this woman knew she could no longer hide, she blurted out her story.
I relate to her so much. After the accident I wasn’t able to walk, eat, drive, or even use the bathroom unassisted. As I finished up therapy and regained my independence, the doctor told me people I met may never be able to tell that I was a head trauma survivor. At the time, that made me so happy because I felt like I could hide this part of my story.
But, honestly, the game of hiding the story that forever changed my life grew exhausting. It felt like I could never truly be present and tell people, ” I’m deaf in one ear and can’t hear a word you are saying” or “My handwriting sucks because I had a stroke and you may not be able to read this form.”
Why does it take us being backed into a corner to really own who we are? To really allow ourselves to be known?
SHOWING OUR TRUE FACE
“How can they meet us face-to-face till we have faces?” -CS Lewis
I recently had the chance at the FOCUS conference to hear Sr. Miriam James share her story and the importance of being vulnerable with Christ:
“I thought, “If I could just get my act together enough, if I could just get this facade together enough, if I could just get up enough walls of self-protection then you wouldn’t see the depths of me, then you wouldn’t see this. Because this was horrifying.
What I found out was that there was something lying unuttered in my soul that my Bridegroom needed to hear. And I didn’t want to speak it.
He said to me, “I love you. I behold your face and I love you because I am yours. And I want you to utter what is in unuttered in your soul; I want to hear it from you to my heart.”
-Sr. Miriam James
One of my favorite parts of SEEK was the reminder that God wants ALL of us.
He wants our weaknesses.
He wants our doubts.
He wants our unpolished faces.
He wants our struggles.
He wants our unedited truth.
OWNING MY STORY
Like this woman in Luke, over the last year I decided to blurt out my story. I started blogging, speaking, and sharing because I was tired of hiding. I was done being scared of what others may think if they knew the whole me because if that in any way changed their opinion then they. are. not. my. people.
And, while I don’t lead with, “Hi, I’m Ashley and I survived a traumatic accident,” sharing my story has made me understand that I am not alone in my hiding. I am not alone in feeling like I’m alone.
This was some feedback I got after a vulnerable talk on marriage, For Better or For Worse, sharing what helped Brad and I weather our storms:
- “The vulnerability and truth of this story were touching and incredibly inspiring.”
- “Her personal examples that you can relate to made us laugh and know other marriages have the same crazy moments.”
- “Seeing I am not alone…it is easy to think I’m not doing something right because it’s all so exhausting (getting kids ready each morning, working all day, making supper, cleaning up, getting ready for the next day and doing it all over again).”
- “I enjoyed the sharing of others during her discussion questions to realize I’m not the only one out there going through this.”
As I’ve shared the vulnerable parts of my story, I’ve come to realize the importance of using your own voice to really come to hear and know it.
Maybe for you this doesn’t mean sharing your story online. We all have our own stories to tell, hearts to share, and unique relationships we’re called to be real with.
But I am convinced of this – Authentically sharing your mess builds relationships and trust in a way that nothing else can.
Today, let’s rewrite the narrative of being “not good enough” and own the unique grit that makes us who we are.
Let’s be with people who can identify and destroy the lies we’ve begun to believe.
Let’s stop comparing ourselves to the previous version of us.
Let’s trust that God loves our broken, flawed selves more than we can ever know.
Rather than looking like the world needs us to be, I’d rather just be me. Amen?