It starts with an “I’m fine”. A small smile that doesn’t reach your eyes is next. A quick change in conversation to deflect the attention away from yourself follows. Each small act takes you one step closer to burying the real you.
For too many years, if I’m honest, I searched, hid and pretended. I lead many conversations with those I don’t know well with an “I’m fine. How are you”? I prayed the exchange would move quickly away from anything too personal and into a safe, comfortable place. If you could get inside my head, my response sounds very different. Who I am is not always a portrayal of the real me.
I am learning the real you, the part of you that you consciously choose to share or not, is one dimension of the many faces that make up the beautiful you God created. God takes the many facets of our personalities, quirks and all, and blends them into beauty. He loves every detail and rejoices when we willingly share each part authentically with family and friends.
I find this second part of my life is my chance to come clean. The deepest part of my being contains shards of brokenness that I keep hidden. A small piece of me revels in keeping those shards exactly as they are. God, however, desires freedom for my soul brokenness. Instead of creating a facade of having it all together on the outside, God can’t wait to gently put the splinters of my being back together again.
[Tweet “God desires freedom for our soul brokenness by meeting us in our hidden places with His truth.”]
On many levels, God challenges me to let go of the brokenness and surrender it all to Him. Weekly time in a leadership cohort tests me to throw down the old me and open myself to a wholeness that only God provides. If I truly seek the real me, I need to invite God to enter into the reality that is hidden in my heart. Freedom penetrates our heart when reality joins with God’s truth. God shows us how to grab this freedom when we name what’s real and live the words we claim.
The real you shines best when others question you in love and grace. For me this looks like:
Sitting across the table from a friend who knows me well and is quick to say “Me too” when I describe those innermost feelings.
Allowing church pastors to dig deeper into my soul brokenness as a way to name it and let it go.
Leading other women in discipleship knowing by sharing vulnerably, I bring my messiness to the surface and make room for the other women to do the same.
Answering the question “how are you”? with an honesty that evokes love and kindness, not a chance to gain sympathy.
What are some ways you reveal the real you when engaging in conversation or life with others?
If this is an area of struggle, what is one thing you can do today to make a change?
My prayer for you this week:
Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies. Philippians 4:8-9 MSG
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Hi Mary! I think we’ve all been taught to look to the ‘other’ and to ignore any problems that we might have. That’s certainly not a map to authenticity is it? For me, I know that’s why I have trouble expressing negative thoughts to others. Well that, and a need to not burden anyone. But again, not healthy.
I expect my friends to be honest with me, and I think they would expect the same from me. There is a freedom in being able to be honest with others, isn’t there? And how can anyone know me, if I refuse to share myself?
Good post today!
YES!!! Being a people pleaser this comes through in my conversations too. I want to point people to the positive or what will make them happy. By doing this I am sacrificing pieces of who I really am. You would think if we want our friends to be honest with us that we would do the same for them.
Thank you for being here! It is so good to see you again. Blessings and hugs!
What a superb invitation, Mary. How blessed we are when God leads us to people who are deep and real and authentic … and who are safe enough for us to be that way with them.
That ‘fine’ word is so wearying … holding up that mask drains off energy that’d be better used elsewhere. Thank you, thank you, for putting this subject on the table today.
Blessings to you, wise friend …
The fine word is so wearying and it makes me wonder why I have wasted so much energy on it over the years. I know there have been many times when it seemed to be easier than the real answer.
I appreciate your encouragement and for pointing us back to God. He always gives us what we need even when we don’t realize we need it.
This really resonates with me, Mary. It so quickly pops out of my mouth without even thinking about it, “OK. How are you?” I’m learning to be more authentic at my blog, but in person is harder for me. I’d rather concentrate on how that person is doing than on myself. I’m always deflecting the conversation away from myself. It’s hard to break from that fear of rejection, feeling like my feelings don’t count, or worrying they won’t like me as much anymore if they know a deeper me. Thank you for this encouragement to be the “real” us! Love and hugs!
It is very hard to break from the feeling that at any moment we could be rejected. I can see why this causes you to move the conversation back to the other person. I am the same way.
The lesson I need to remember is that God loves me no matter what. That is all that matters. If others don’t like us or want to accept us then they didn’t really want a relationship with us to begin with. Thank you for being here and joining in the conversation. You bless me!
I recently read a book on showing up as ourselves can lead us into a wilderness, yet it is in braving that wilderness that lead us to an authentic life. And shining our authenticity allows a safe place for others to be themselves too. Jesus teaches for us that the number one ‘rule’ is to love others, doesn’t he? And to love others is to allow them to be who they are, their struggles, doubts, addictions, lifestyles that may not be ones we are comfortable with….I know I have fears of being judged, and the wilderness can be a lonely place if my ideas, or past mistakes and choices don’t line up with groups I have connected in. Yet, if not showing up authentically, is there really true connection? Such an important message you shared that is needed in our world where percentage of loneliness among or brothers and sisters is rising!
You hit on some important points. I had not thought about being authentic leading us to the wilderness but it makes sense. I know for me it can be a self-imposed wilderness because I worry about what others will think, which you mentioned too. I would like to know the name of the book you read.
If we are living a life of loving others, we need to accept others as they are and this requires grace to meet them in all their messiness. I struggle with this message of authenticity because for so many years I needed to be the strong one and this put me in a place of masking other feelings. Thank you for your kind words.
I think honesty is the most helpful yet perhaps the hardest thing to be with people. Taking our masks off and allowing the real us to come “out.” Very touching post, Mary.
Thank you Susan! Being honest about who we are is one of the hardest things to do. I want everyone to like me so this falls into the category of will they still like me if they really know me?? The answer should definitely be yes!!
I appreciate you stopping by. I know you are busy with Write 31 Days.
I have found these thoughts to be so true in my own life as well. I have also found that in the past when I tucked away my own thoughts, even for the benefit of others so that their stories could be given more emphasis than mine, what ended up happening is that they had no idea that I could possibly identify with any of the things they shared. Only as I stepped in to say, Yes, me too! were they able to feel that they were truly not alone in the hard times. May we have the compassion of Christ within us, to share from the real places of our lives so that HIS Grace in us might be seen even more. Thank you for sharing these good thoughts today!
Amen! I pray we embrace God’s compassion in how we do community with others. For many years community for me was more surface interactions as well as in the context of the workplace. I love that God is calling me deeper even though this is out of my comfort zone.
Your sweet comment blessed me. Have a wonderful week!
I have to say it was really hard for me to be “real” with people in person and in my writing. It’s safer to hide, but I kept feeling God’s urge to be more vulnerable both places and what I found was, just what you described, a lot of echoes of “Me too.” I wasn’t greeted by judgment, but with compassion and empathy. I think there is something really redeeming in sharing our brokenness and how God works through us to restore us….ultimately giving Him the glory. Great “real” post this am.
I love when your comments echo what I am trying to say. I’m glad you “get it”. I was going to say that I can tell God is working on you to be more vulnerable because I am seeing it in your writing. It can be very freeing to follow God’s prompting can’t it?
It is own our brokenness and the process of letting it go that we become whole. As much as I would like to keep it hidden God knows better what I need. Thank you for blessing me!
And may we have wisdom to discern when our vulnerable sharing will be helpful, and where the line is between “dumping our junk” and choosing to “set our minds on things above” without stuffing.
I find that this tension between sharing the real me and staying silent takes so much discernment. I want to be careful not to drag others down or to fill up the airspace with my story when there are so many who need to unload.
YES! I am not a believer in sharing everything just for the sake of sharing. It can be a fine line but God is teaching me those areas that need to be shared instead of stuffing them down. Some of it is for personal healing and sometimes it is hopefully to help someone else on their own journey.
I find that you and I think similarly in this instance. Learning how to listen and when it is appropriate to listen or to share takes discernment. That’s when I send up a quick prayer asking God for help.
Each of us is kintsugi in action!
Amen! It is when we let go of our brokenness that we become whole!