Back in August, one of my counselors and I were discussing being the most authentic version of ourselves and building genuine community.
He asked me what kind of people am I drawn to. Who do I want to be in relationship with?
“People who are the real deal.”
Don’t we all? You and I are always seeking to have real relationships with real people. We see people from afar and say things like, “Now that’s someone I want to be friends with. They’re so genuine.”
If you are anything like me, your natural tendency is to do whatever you have to in order to get their attention and keep them interested in you. We pretend to be something we definitely are not.
But it never occurs to us that the “real deal” people are looking right back at us and they can see right through our pretense. And guess what? Just like us, they aren’t attracted to fake people. They don’t want to be in relationship with someone they can’t trust or love the real version of.
Ouch. I have spent way too much of my life being on the wrong side of this idea. I have gone to great lengths to create such a compelling story of who I am that many people in my life just learned to nod and smile and treat me with politeness, but have kept their distance. They decided that I was not the “real deal” kind of person. And guess what? They have been right.
I know I’m not the only one. We live in a society that tells us the real us is not good enough.
Not smart enough.
Not pretty enough.
Not creative enough.
Not strong enough.
Not rich enough.
Not talented enough.
Not aggressive enough.
None of these things are true. God created and called us each for a unique purpose. He also designed us for authentic community. The two things go together. Unfortunately, we have developed a habit of isolation, and it is a vicious cycle.
Pretense > Loneliness > Desperation > Pretense
If nothing changes, nothing changes.
Something has to change. It’s going to be one of two things. Either you and I are going to have to be vulnerable enough to be who we really are and confident enough in who we are in Christ that we can handle even being rejected for who we really are. Or someone else is going to have to reach down and send a wrecking ball through our sham of a life that forces us to be vulnerable before God and others.
Trust me when I tell you the first option is better.
The only other option is we live in either physical or emotional isolation and never really have solid community because we never feel safe enough to be honest about who we really are. And that just simply isn’t what God intended for us.
So how do we lay the pretenses down and become the “real deal?”
- Be honest. Don’t create or exaggerate truths about yourself to impress people. Even if you fool them once or twice, they will eventually catch on and stop believing anything you say. The truth is enough. You are enough.
- Be accountable. Have someone in your life who knows you well and loves you enough to call you out on your BS. And be willing to receive it well. If they are a true friend, they are only being really honest with you because they love you.
- Be confident. Understand that some people may reject the real version of you. They may be threatened, or maybe they just don’t like you. That is completely their problem. It’s probably not personal. If you are really authentic, you will have enough community, it won’t matter. Let rejection roll off your back.
We can only be loved to the extent we are known. Have you ever thought to yourself that you were unlovable? Or that nobody loves you? Me too. A friend hit me square between the eyes last year when she said, “Felicia, you have never felt loved because you have always hidden the real version of you. You just know that if anyone knew the real you, they wouldn’t love you. Why don’t you try us? Let us make the decision on whether you are lovable or not.”
Are you the real deal? What can you do today to be more authentic than you were yesterday?
For the record, this idea is not easy. I’m not here to claim it is, or that I do a particularly great job of being real. I just know it is an important part of the equation to living the life we all really want to have.