Authenticity Revisited...

"We are only what we are in the dark; all the rest is reputation.
What God looks at is what we are in the dark-
the imaginations of our minds, the thoughts of our heart, the habits of our bodies;
these are the things that mark us in God's sight.
Character is what you are in the dark."
~Oswald Chambers ~
My Utmost for His Highest

When I saw the quote that Deborah had chosen for today's In "Other" Words, I immediately thought back to my One Little Word post, written in January of this year. In it I wrote:

"I want to be authentic in my relationship with God. To be authentic in my relationships with my husband and children. To be authentic in my parenting. To be authentic in my friendships. I want to lead my children to be authentic. I want them to have authentic relationships with God. I want them to make right decisions and do the right thing because they are walking with the Lord and want to please Him...not because of what "people" will see or think. "

God had been stirring my heart on this subject for a while. Our family had been sent into a tailspin by someone much loved and trusted who turned out to be anything but authentic. In the midst of the practical day-to-day and long-term issues thrust upon us in the aftermath of the betrayal we discovered, we began to seek answers to the whys and hows of the situation at hand. What I realized, in hindsight, was that this person had spent a lifetime building a reputation that had no connection to the person they truly were inside. The imaginations of the mind, the thoughts of the heart, and the habits of the body bore no resemblance to the front everyone else saw.

I realized then, as I do now, that we are probably all that way to some extent. Most, if not all, of us have areas we don't care to show the world; we often wear masks of various kinds. To some degree, those masks may be okay...some of us are just more private than others, and it certainly isn't always a good thing to "let it all hang out". But there is a fine line there. When we actively seek to show the world a persona that is only skin-deep, we hit a danger zone that isn't good for us *or* the people around us.

I've spent a lot of time since that authenticity post in January pondering the subject of authenticity. We want to have a good name...Proverbs says a good name is to be desired more than great riches...and we want to be good ambassadors for our King...not stumbling blocks. But it is so crucial that we truly *be* the person worthy of that good name. Our motivation must be to be the person God has called us to be, to obey and serve and glorify Him...because we love Him, because we can never repay the debt we owe. If our motivation is to look good to others...it is as filthy rags.

As I said in this post, I have realized this is my primary goal as a parent...that my children grow to love the Lord with all their hearts, souls, minds, and strength. I want them to want so much to please Him that nothing else matters...not what others think, or how "successful" they appear...only that they are following Jesus, step by step, day by day.

And for me to teach that to them, I have to live that myself.

I so needed this reminder, halfway through this year for which my "one little word" is "authentic". I need to stop, in the midst of summer planning for the coming school year, as I'm evaluating where everybody is, what has been working, what needs to change, and what our goals are for the year, and first of all assess "what I am in the dark", and then what my children are "in the dark".

I've shared before the link to Ann Voskamp's post on a "one piece life". I revisited that post this week, and was again so convicted that that is the key to authenticity...making no room in my life for a distinction between the sacred and the secular. As Ann says, with the Holy Spirit inside us, it should all be sacred...every ordinary moment.

I want my life to be seamless. No compartments, no division between the sacred and the ordinary. Our scarred wood floors holy ground, and our lives the same during Monday morning chores as Sunday morning church. I want who I am to God in the dark to be more important to me than who I am to others in public.

I guess I want "authentic" to be more than "one little word for 2009"...I want it to be a defining characteristic of our family for a lifetime.

"Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good."
Romans 12:9

To see others' thoughts on this quote, visit Deborah at Chocolate and Coffee. Thanks to Deborah for hosting, and for a great quote this week!


Choate Family said...

Ouch! Our authenticity has certainly been challenged as we live in a place where windows are always open and most of the living is done outside. I really appreciate your insights!

Keri Wyatt Kent said...

Jennifer, great post. It's so easy in our culture to manipulate our own reputation, to spin things in a positive way. Thanks for the challenge to develop our character!

Keri Wyatt Kent said...

Great post, Jennifer! Thanks for the challenge to develop our character.