Dawn Tolbert

Writer
Tree in fog
Bravery Faith Reflections

Authenticity: Living the Nitty Gritty

Ever have a theme that keeps coming up over and over again during the day?

Well, for me, today, that theme has been authenticity.

One of the leaders I follow on Twitter shared his conviction when he read a post about how empathy and sympathy can be fake if we’re not authentic. Then, at today’s Rotary meeting, the speaker talked about how the organization for which he works is only able to make changes in the lives of hurting children when the employees—the grown ups—are willing to live out their faith. The good news of a loving God, he said, can’t be preached but has to be lived out through thousands of tiny interactions. It requires an authentic living of faith.

Authenticity is much harder than just showing up and going through the motions.

It’s about living life in the nitty gritty, being willing to be honest and open about ourselves but also being willing to care — and care deeply — for and about others. It’s truly bearing another person’s burdens, even when they don’t offer to help with yours – especially when they don’t or can’t offer to help with yours. Authenticity is showing up, caring as hard as you can, and staying in the present – not clicking over to check your iPhone for “important” messages or scanning the room for someone else you might rather spend time with.

Authenticity is about sharing of yourself, being who you are, warts and all.

So often, our society teaches us to wash our faces, put on our makeup, paste smiles on our faces, and go out and don’t let anybody see us looking weak. That might be good advice for some scenarios, but it just doesn’t work if we’re truly trying to connect with the hurting people around us. They don’t need to see us as airbrushed, Botoxed, model Christians. They need to see us as sinners who’ve been redeemed by a loving and merciful God who offers salvation because of who He is and not who we are. John 3:16 tells us that we can be saved because God loved us that much. And scripture after scripture remind us that none of us is righteous or good on our own. We all fail. We’ve all done wrong.

Of course, authenticity for a Christian also has a higher standard.

We can and indeed must admit that we’ve sinned, but we also must talk about how God has delivered us from that way of life. God didn’t save us to leave us in our sin. And we can’t be all “authentic and real” by telling people that sin doesn’t matter. Because it does. Because it separates us from a holy and pure and righteous God. Salvation requires admitting that we sin but also turning from that life of sin and selfishness and turning to the One who can deliver us from that life. We turn and we follow.

I’m not sure why this theme keeps surfacing for me today but, as I’ve been thinking about it, I’ve found myself praying that God will show me how to be authentic in a way that helps others, that He will help me earn the right to speak the truth in love, and then that He will give me the courage to do just that.

Without fear.

Without some ulterior motive.

Just seeking to honor Him and bring glory to His name, as I reach out to and love others.

2 Comment

  1. What a timely post Dawn! On the way home from tennis tonight I was ruminating on the fact that when you decided to bring something into your life, all sorts of doors and windows start to open offering you the opportunities needed to make it happen. I think as you have felt the need to be more authentic, so the doors have opened to show you the way with great reminders in the form of Rotary talks, social media posts, and scripture that are all relevant to your particular journey. I love how you look at authenticity as a way to help others with no other motive than to be of service to someone else. I think you are already a shining example of this and I will follow your lead. Thank you for the inspiration!

    1. Thanks, Dana! That means a lot. It’s amazing to me how easy it is to notice all the times we fail at being our best selves and then dismiss the things we do as “nothing special.” I agree that as we become open to ideas — and to God’s leading — we definitely receive it. Sometimes I just wonder how often I’ve missed messages I was supposed to pay attention to. All we can do is promise to be more attentive in the future.

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