After analysis paralysis, I decided to focus on what makes us hide and why it is safe to come out and be authentic.
When he was twelve, a family friend molested him. He never told his parents but for more than decade, he hid his pain through an addiction to pornography and sex.
“Why can’t you be pretty and smart like your sister?”
When his dad was in a drunken rage, the little boy would find a place to hide.
Adam and Eve lost intimacy with God and each other after their sin, and hid from God. Yet God seeks them and asks, “Where are you?”
God knew but did Adam and Eve know they were hiding and why?
However we receive the message, we may believe that in order to be deemed worthy, we must be perfect so we hide the real and imperfect parts of us.
“Shame breeds fear. It crushes our tolerance for vulnerability, thereby killing engagement, innovation, creativity, productivity, and trust.”
~Brene Brown, Daring Greatly
Shame leads to inauthentic living.
What is the antidote to our shame?
Brene Brown says research shows vulnerability and “shame resilience” are keys to authenticity. For me, it began with being vulnerable or open to God’s love and forgiveness.
I am authentic/vulnerable with God when I risk telling Him what I’m really thinking and feeling, even if it is intense anger, hurt, or jealousy.
God doesn’t shame or condemn me; instead He responds with compassion and forgiveness.
I am authentic with my husband when I tell him what hurt my feelings even if it may seem like a silly and small thing. If I’m not vulnerable, I lose an opportunity to create greater understanding and intimacy.
“If we share our story with someone who responds with empathy and understanding, shame can’t survive.”
~Brene Brown, Daring Greatly.
We need a safe person (maybe a friend or a counselor) to hear our story.
“Self-compassion is also critically important, but because shame is a social concept–it happens between people—it also heals best between people.”
– Brene Brown, Daring Greatly
Healing comes, but we must give ourselves grace and space for healing. The wounding didn’t happen overnight, nor will healing.
Children’s brains have mirror neurons so our earliest relationships shape us more than we can consciously know. For example, our daughter’s birth forced me to examine my earliest memories as her birth triggered night terrors and anxiety attacks in me.
Before he created my family, God originally created me in His image (Gen. 1:26-27).
“To say that I am made in the image of God is to say that love is the reason for my existence, for God is love. Love is my true identity.”
God knit me with my unique gifts and struggles in my mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13-16).
During a period when tears flowed regularly, God reminded me: my truest origin began when He knew me before the foundations of the world and He chose me (in love) to be His child (Eph. 1:3-4).
Before anyone stated my value or lack, God declared my inherent worth.
The more I know God and abide in him, the more I know myself.
“Nearly all wisdom we possess, that is to say, true and sound wisdom, consists of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves.”
~John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion
Authenticity is being fully the person God created me to be.
In midlife, I am becoming more authentically me. I’m slowly learning to embrace my need for quiet and to write to process my thoughts and feelings. I’m slowly learning to say “no” and to focus first on pleasing God, not people. I’m slowly learning it is okay to make time for what I enjoy (e.g., a good book, beautiful flowers, and art) as part of God’s gift of rest (Matt. 11:28-30).
“To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody but yourself—means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight—and never stop fighting.”
~ e. e. cummings
May you fight the good fight for authenticity.
What helps you to become more authentically you?
What helps you come out of hiding?