Thursday, September 22, 2005

Authentic Doesn't Always Mean Goodbye

Have you ever been around someone who you knew was "inauthentic." They tried to cover it up, but deep down you really knew the difference between what they were saying and how they really lived their life. People like that really bother me.

Now don't get me wrong - I will be the first to step up to the plate and say that there have been times when I would say one thing but mean something else. I hate that about myself. I had a terrible history in the past of saying things that weren't "exactly" the truth, but close enough to sound convincing. That approach usually kept me out of hot water or at least detoured a potentially hazardous situation. That reminds me of another phrase (John, I may need some help again finding the meaning) - "little white lie." Seems ironic doesn't it. Little and lie don't really go together now do they? Aren't all lies fairly significant? Why use the term little? And what about the word white. Why that color? It seems to me that lies would be better described as black, as in darkness. But maybe that's just me.

Is our goal really to live life as authentically as possible? Is that really a reasonable expectation? How do we know that we are being authentic? I have seen the best of people that need someone to challenge them in that area. It brings about the importance of true friendships; accountability partners if you will. We all need some help occasionally, and I for one, need help more than most. We need someone who cares enough to tell us when they see us struggling.

Vulnerability. That's another important term. Someone may have the guts to talk to us, but if we aren't willing to engage in the conversation, then it really doesn't do any good. I can think of specific examples of people who were challenged in an area of their life, but instead of taking an honest look at themselves, they blamed others and ignored the problem altogether. Or worse yet, they walked away completely and abandoned those who were trying to help them in the first place.

I have fears that I react that way sometimes. It is difficult to hear something challenging about your character or behavior. That's pretty natural. I know from the past that my first reaction is typically one of defense. Sometimes even of anger. I tend to want to debate my position without taking into account that I might be holding up for the wrong side of the equation. By that time it's hard to take things back. I have tried very hard to listen closely and give myself time to digest everything.

Being authentic doesn't mean having to say goodbye. I really think living an authentic life can be a very healthy and freeing thing. The problem is that most of us live a life that avoids this because it is a very difficult thing to do. So my question today is, how are you doing in this area? Do you find yourselves living life with a clear conscience? Or do you struggle with saying one thing and living another?

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