Saturday, August 27, 2011

Authentically Transparent

Authentic is a word that I've run across many times in the last month. It's surprised me how often I've opened my inbox and found it there. People are looking for authenticity. They want the genuine article, not a reproduction. Not a facade. And that seems to be counter-cultural at times.

A way to be authentic is to be transparent—and to be honest, transparency is scarier to me. Maybe because I can visualize transparency so easily. All I need to do is look out my front window and I see transparency in the sheers that cover my window, allowing light to come in and allowing me to see out without the world seeing in. Usually. At night, when the lights are on here in the house, those sheers are transparent. They offer very little protection from people looking in. If I weren't surrounded by cornfields, if I had neighbors, I would have more than sheers on my front windows because
I don't like living in a fish bowl. In fact, I have a huge aversion to life in the fish bowl.

But, greater than my aversion to living in a fish bowl, is my desire to follow hard after God. God has called me to authenticity and transparency, and that path has put me in the fish bowl. Or so it feels. Often I feel like Namaan. You want me to do what, Lord?? Or like Gideon. How can I?

So what am I to do? Paint on a smile and act like everything is always fantastic? No. That wouldn't be obedience.

Monday evening, after an emotionally hard day wrestling the nonsense and naysaying voices in my head, I knew I had to come up with a blog post for the letter N for the a 2 z meme we're doing. It's a responsibility I committed to and skipping a week wasn't an option. I scanned through my picture collection and saw nothing. I brainstormed words that start with N and could only come up with Nothing. I've had some pretty lame a 2 z posts in the 14 weeks we've been doing this, and I really, really wanted a fun, quirky N post. But I honestly had nothing, which only served to add to the naysaying voices in my head.

In my flipping through things, (desperately) looking for ideas, I came across the word 'authentic'. Again.

Authenticity isn't always fun. It isn't always quirky. Sometimes being authentic is admitting you have nothing but nonsense and that you're so busy wrestling, and even overwhelmed by the nonsense that you need help.

It's not the upbeat portrait I wanted to paint to people who stop by. That's when God reminded me of my fish bowl. He also pointed to the sheers across the window of my life, allowing people to see in without seeing all the vivid details.

By allowing God to turn on the light—His light—on Monday night, I allowed others to look through my windows and see my struggle with the nonsense and naysayers in my head. Did they see the cause of the struggle? No. The real issue wasn't what someone said to me that kick-started the wrestling match. The real issue was that it was happening and how I was dealing with it.

It meant admitting I wasn't all I wanted to be. It meant letting people see me when I was down. It meant letting people see me wrestle. Things I'd rather not do.

In being transparent, I found friends who were struggling with similar things. We shared the verses that were helping us, and in that joining of hands, the nonsense was stilled within me and the naysayers quieted.

Namaan's leprosy was healed when he did what God told him to. Gideon's strength against the enemy was God's presence. Guess what? On this side of the struggle, and on this side of the transparency, I still feel like Namaan and Gideon. Healed and strengthened with God's presence.

Thank you, my friends.
As we live transparently and authentically, Christ shines through us.

So tell me, do you think we can live authentically without transparency?



7 comments:

  1. My daughter and I were discussing our "Sunday Morning Smiles" a few days ago. And our Connection Group leaders were talking about needing more time together away from that Sunday morning dilema so we could let our hair down and get real about the needs in our lives. My vote is that we do need to be transparent to be authentic. Voting and doing, however, are two different things. (Smiling big)

    Thanks for the good word today, Patty. God Bless.

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  2. See, this is where this whole authenticity and transparency thing meets reality and seems counter-cultural.

    Am I saying we walk around wearing sackcloth and ashes or even just "long faces"? No, I'm not. There's a balance we need to achieve and we DO need to be able to say 'I know this will pass, but it really stinks at the moment.' We need to allow people to see us wrestle and win. As they see our struggle, they'll see God at work in our lives. Whether they know the root cause of the struggle or not.

    Do I have this figured out yet? NO!

    Have I achieved this balance? NO!

    This is something I'm struggling with. You all know how much I love my comfy, cozy cave...

    How can we do this?

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  3. I think you found your N words!

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  5. You may have already heard of this, but Google "cardboard testimonies". We did this at our church last Easter, and it's pretty powerful. You're on the right track, Patty.

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  6. Yes, I have heard about cardboard testimonies. Good stuff there!! =]

    LoL, Lisa. I agree. I think it takes being transparent to be authentic. And that can be terrifying because that tends to make us feel tremendously vulnerable. Scary. But we aren't alone. Thank God, we are not alone!

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