Authenticity: What does it really look like?
This Friday, April 26th, we’re opening our hearts and doors to teens all across the country, teens we hope are hungry for the NaSHEville message. We’ll be hosting our first She’s in the City event for high school girls, talking about genuine authenticity and the power of defining who we are in Christ rather than by the world’s impossible, equivocal standards. If you’re not local to Nashville or are unable to attend, don’t miss our FaceBook live streaming of the message from Vanderbilt Women’s Athletics’ chaplain, Courtney Grah!
We have committed to being as authentic as we can as a brand, a company, and as two girls just like you. Many days we fail, but some days we don’t. The more ladies (of all ages) we meet, the more we’ve come to realize that being authentic is often a, “you’re doing too much; do less,” kind of thing. How do we confidently take ownership of our unique attributes, gifts, and designs, while not becoming more proud of who we are than who Christ is?
Take a look at what a few of the experts (Psychology Today and Jesus) say about being authentic.
According to academic and clinical metrics, people whose behavior exhibits genuine authenticity:
Have realistic perceptions of reality.
Are accepting of yourself and of other people.
Have a non-hostile sense of humor.
Are able to express your emotions freely and clearly.
Are open to learning from your mistakes.
Understand your motivations.
Seems fairly simple, right? But what is our standard for understanding what is realistic, thoughtful, humble, and an honest motivation?
If you are a believer, you know well that the only perfect picture of authenticity (and ultimately, of anything!) is Jesus. He could never lie, cheat, or be more proud of Himself than his Father. While none of us will ever reach the bar He did, what if He became the model toward which we strive and not our measuring stick with which we judge others?
Check out Jesus’s words in Luke 9:23. A pretty clear-cut picture of how we might grow into an authenticity, if you ask me:
“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”
So what does that mean for us to apply this “formula” for being authentic in 2019, whether a teen struggling to find stability in who you are or a grown woman unhappy with who you’ve become?
1. Be vulnerable; be humble: “deny yourself”
This is without question one of the hardest, most counterculture commands the Bible gives us. We are a performance and prove-yourself culture, yet all Jesus asks us to do is admit our faults, not with shaming or disgrace, but with gratitude that He loves us just as we are. As C.S. Lewis says, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself; it’s thinking of yourself less.”
2. Embrace the hurt; hold tight the hope: “take up your cross”
Much of the disappointments and discouragements we experience come from holding higher expectations than the world can fulfill. Taking up our cross means acknowledging this disparity, not with depression and defeat, but with perseverance and hope that through trial can come great strength, integrity, and hope.
3. Follow the leader: “follow Me”
Keep your eye on the ball. That’s the age-old and ever-effective strategy for baseball, tennis, and many other sports. What Jesus wants us to know is that to be authentic – to be true and real and confident yet not arrogant in who we are – all we need to do is keep our eye on the ball. Look to the One who did it perfectly, accept that we never will, and believe that He will us do the best we can.