authenticity revisited

Since I wrote about authenticity a few days ago, I’ve continued to think about it and enjoy the feedback in the comments. My friend Pamela noted a distinction between authenticity and openness. I think openness is one facet of what I was trying to express; the “human onion” analogy works to describe the process of growing into a deeper friendship, layer by layer.

Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines authentic this way: “not false or imitation : real, actual.” My definition of the term, in the human context, is that an authentic person paints a true picture of himself or herself to others, including God. To me, authenticity means that I don’t alter my behavior, words, or actions to gain social status. It means that I recognize who I am and am honest with God about it. It means that I have a balanced perspective of myself and I’m not afraid to let other people see who I really am, quirks and all.

There are so many layers of this. We try to impress each other or to cover up our real selves. Depending on the company I’m in, I try to sound spiritual or edgy or intellectual or professional. I try to fit – and that’s great, up to a certain point. Authenticity is not about behaving exactly the same in every situation with every person. Of course we respond to different people, personalities, and cultures in various ways. That’s not bad. It’s good. But when my motivation is to raise myself in the eyes of others – essentially, to seem “cool” in the context at that moment – then I am not being authentic. I am betraying myself for the sake of stroking my ego, and it’s a poor exchange.

Authenticity links with humility. If I am to be secure in my identity, with a balanced view of myself and my little place in this gigantic world, I need to be humbled. When I am humble before God, content to be me because He made me this way, I no longer have anything to prove. I have quiet confidence.

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3 Responses

  1. […] Jessica Boling compared authenticity to peeling an onion. […]

  2. I love that whole last paragraph. Thank you for sharing as this has been a topic on mind a lot lately. I linked to you on my blog!
    Love,
    Rose

    • Rose, thank you for your words! I appreciate the encouragement…and the link. 🙂 Blessings to you.

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