authenticity . . .

Authenticity. Being authentic. Not fake. Genuine. Real. Threadbare and exposed.

Are you authentic? If you answered “yes” then allow me a further probe. Who decides what’s authentic? How do you determine the boundaries for the definition, or does the definition (in and of itself) require that no boundaries be put around it? Does being authentic mean you just throw your “all” out there and hope for the best—take me or leave me, this is who I am?

It’s getting a lot of buzz these days . . . authenticity, especially in our “Christianese”—the vernacular of us religious folk. There’s something to be said for our exposure before one another; truth-telling can be a crucible for holiness. We can’t move forward in our faith by faking it. But I’m wondering, if, perhaps, our version of authenticity stops short of being a productive, spiritual discipline.

What’s the point of keeping it real, if keeping it real becomes an end in itself rather than a means to achieving an end—holiness?

Case in point. I’m about to expose myself. Hold on. You might not be ready for this one.

Yesterday, I canceled my appointment with my general practioner . . . for the 2nd time. It was scheduled for 3:45 PM. I called (actually I had my husband call) and cancel around 2:00 PM. Why?

  • I didn’t want to weigh in.
  • I didn’t want a repeat lecture about my cholesterol being too high.
  • I didn’t want to weigh in.

My decision was based on an earlier encounter with the bathroom scale—my husband and my twenty-three-year-old son’s throw-down, weigh in. They bantered back and forth about who weighed less, who ate more, and who would be thinner the next time around. When I heard their numbers, I was crushed and loudly pronounced my angst.

“I’m the heaviest person in this family. I weigh more than the rest of you. Call the doctor, Billy, and reschedule. I’m not going in today.”

He complied; I cried and continued to wrap myself up in the enemy’s shame regarding my appearance. Nothing’s fit right since cancer. Nothing looks right, either. It all feels wrong on me.

There, that wasn’t so hard. There’s some real and authentic truth for you. I’m not proud of it; I should have put “my big girl panties on a dealt with it.” Problem is, the big girl panties are too big, and I’m not keen on exposing them to others. Just keeping it real, friends. But here’s the problem: it’s not enough to tell you about it, throw it all out in front of the world while shouting, “Take me or leave me, this is who I am.”

This isn’t authenticity, not according to God; this isn’t transformation. This is defeat; this is refusing to do the hard work that follows personal disclosure. That hard work for me?

Well, it’s not just about my moving more and eating less. Greater still, it’s about exposing my pain before Jesus, about moving more into his Word, and about eating less of the enemy’s assessment regarding my body.

This is authenticity . . . not being afraid to fully disclose the pain and truth before the mirror of God’s Word and before God’s heart, knowing that with reflection will come greater understanding, greater strength, and greater exposure to the only truth that has the power to transform me rather than to judge me. If I’m willing to do this—to go all in with Jesus and with his assessment regarding my appearance—then I can boast about personal authenticity. Otherwise, I’m just living a lie, kidding myself and trying to kid the world into believing that my big girl panties and me are here to stay; take us or leave us, this is who we are.

Authenticity. It only comes to us as we are willing to come to the cross and expose our nakedness, our wounds, and our truth to the nakedness, wounds, and truth of Jesus Christ. He is the standard-bearer for authenticity; he defines it, refines it, and mines for it in each one of us. He is the means to our holiness. He is the end of it as well. When we go to him and pour out our reflection before him, he begins to pour out his reflection into us.

This is how we can make peace with our flesh and live in peace with God’s people. His truth over-powering and replacing the enemy’s lies. His estimation overtaking the mirror’s assessment and bringing forth new life from woundedness. More of Jesus reflecting authentically through less of us. Accordingly,

Take us, don’t leave us, Jesus, this is who we are, and this is why we so desperately need your hand of grace in our lives. Amen.

Sassy Granny has also written a post about authenticity. You can find it here.

17 Responses to authenticity . . .

  1. Authenticity IS hard. Thank GOD for JESUS who “defines it, refines it, and mines for it in each one of us”!

    Once again, you said it the way I wish I could have.

  2. If ever a message needed to be given & repeated, this is the one! You rightly point out the struggle we all have with being authentic, especially when our less-than-pretty attributes come into play. But it works the other way, too: we need to free others to be authentic, and then figure out how best to encourage. It’s just much too easy to sit back & take potshots or, worse, write them off.

    Some months ago I got on the bathroom scale and discovered I’d lost 5 pounds. You’d have thought I won the lottery. I walked a little taller. There was a bounce in my step. I patted myself on the back no fewer than 20 times. I felt sooooo good about myself. Then, when I next went to get on the scales, I realized they were OFF by 5 lbs. I hadn’t really lost anything. I learned a valuable lesson that day …

    As always, I’m blessed by your insights & honesty. Thank you.

  3. Oh Elaine, again I soo get all of this. The need to “keep it real” and the balance of what that really means. I remember the first time I realized how close I come to weighing what my hubby weighs, and he is a BIG man. 6′ 2″ and muscular, ex college football player and wrestler. He weighs close (maybe a little less) than when I met him, whereas I am almost 80 pounds heavier….sigh. I was somewhat hysterical. Back and forth I go. Struggle after struggle. Success followed by failure. Condemnation followed by forgiveness. Since my surgery I have really struggled as I did not do reconstructive surgery….now I REALLY look bad. And yet!! You are soo right of course. Bringing all of this before the mirror of God’s Word is the ONLY place to bring it. That is where any power or strength I have comes from to battle this problem or any other. His reflection in us is all that really matters. His truth, His grace, His love. This all really blessed me as always. HUGS

  4. Ummm…I could have written some of those words because I’ve said them albeit differently (I continued to wrap myself up in the enemy’s shame regarding my appearance. Nothing’s fit right since Mark Died. Nothing looks right, either. It all feels wrong on me.) Not only my clothes feel wrong on me – Life feels wrong on me without Mark! But being authentic AND doing something about it – well, That is a Whole. New. Game!! But one I am having to face daily as I struggle to get my life back and move forward with whatever it may be that God has purposed for me! I Adore You Elaine! You Always challenge my heart and my thinking!!! Bless You!

    • Why don’t we live closer to one another, Cindy? I imagine we could be a great source of support for one another right now. Besides, I’m always in need of a handy plumber, organizer, fix-it gal! Seriously, prayers and love to you this night.

  5. Elaine, You are one of the ‘realest’ women I know! I treasure your transparent heart. As always, thanks for sharing your authentic self.

    hugs to you this day
    patrina ><

    ps…congrats on your new book!

  6. Elaine, I get this….all of it. The authenticity, the weight issues, the shame. I get it all. As I speak and write, I try my best to be authentic in a way that pleases God and edifies the body of Christ. It is a balancing act,though.

    Recently, as I have inched closer to 50, I have begun to get that middle aged spread thingy, accompanied by a few extra stubborn pounds. Still exercising like a fiend and eating the same, but there it is nonetheless. I began somthing that is working for me. Accountability is a huge motivator. I downloaded an app to my iPhone that my stepson told me about. He has lost 60 pounds this year using it. It is called LiveStrong. It takes your personal info and your desired weight loss and tells you how many calories you need each day in order to lose the weight. Then it gives you a mechanism to track not only your calorie intake but also your water intake and your exercise (amount of calories burned). Most of us eat more than we realize and keeping track of my intake really helps me. Just a thought. May not be for everyone.

    Love you friend.

  7. Psalm 119:59 “I have considered my ways and have turned my steps to your statutes.”

    That verse so perfectly couples itself with your posting. I heartily “amen” your well chosen and transparent words. Thank you, Elaine, for sharing your thoughts with us. Strengthens my resolve (which can use some muscle!).

    From one in the trenches on food addiction, I understand the agonizing spiritual warfare that Paul spoke of. I struggle in sin, yet I desire to be more like Christ. In His grace, this week I will hit the 100 pound weight loss goal. His transforming power! A marvelous grace.

    May Christ be seen in me, O Lord… and in you Elaine and all your blog world friends,

  8. I hadn’t thought about authenticity in this way before, Elaine — keeping it real with a goal or hope of moving on toward growth and holiness. Kind of fits in with your movement wins focus for this year, doesn’t it? Authenticity with an eye towards transformation — what good food for thought!

  9. Oh no, it’s the “A” word. 😉

    I’m glad you wrote this post, Elaine. I think it’s so easy to forget in the midst of trying to be authentic that our motive & purpose in it is what’s most important. You brought out the truth of that fact very well.

    Thanks, friend, for consistently pointing my spiritual eyes in the right direction. And I’m thankful to be walking on the body image journey with you too. Praying alongside you.

  10. Take us, don’t leave us, Jesus, this is who we are, and this is why we so desperately need your hand of grace in our lives. Amen.


    I’ve put off even making an appointment for the same reason, my Friend.

    It is comforting to not be alone and yet — again — Take us, don’t leave us, Jesus, this is who we are, and this is why we so desperately need your hand of grace in our lives. Amen.

  11. So good!
    Our Life Group just started a new series tonight, “I Really Want to Change…So Help Me God” by James MacDonald.
    This teaching series is how we can only change by admitting (here’s the authentic part) “I am the problem.” And then turning to Jesus Christ to be the transforming power in us.

  12. Elaine, I can’t tell you how many times I have looked at other Christian women…you included…and thought to myself…”I bet she never has the shallow, sometimes deceptive nature that I have….God, I wish I was ‘real’ like her!” And it’s not that I’m not”real” as in ”really” being a child of God…for I am! But sometimes I feel shallow. I want to feel deeply and truly be ”authentic”. But I’m afraid that I sometimes am not!

    Love you much!


  13. This post shows exactly why I keep coming back again and again…real words, from a real woman, always, always, pointing towards the real answer…

    We have never met, but I love you, sister!

  14. It can be hard to be authentic! I know I prefer to present the ‘good side’ of me to the world. And yet, there’s plenty of mess in me. I love that you share what’s going on with you. I think many can identify and it makes you all the more approachable.

    I used to be the gal who was in great shape; exercising daily and watching what I ate. But then along came a life upheaval and along with it, turmoil, stress and the dreaded change.

    I gained 20 pounds which is a lot for me. I’m in the midst of working on it. Between a weekly online group (which I’ve neglected now for two weeks) and a Biggest Loser challenge at work, I’m trying to make those needed changes. Instead of reaching for a sweet, I have plenty of apples around my house. 🙂

    So keep on being real Elaine. You’re not alone in your struggles. And btw, I mentioned you this morning on Heart Choices as I was writing about perspective. I have been so touched by your book!

    Blessings and love,

  15. “This isn’t authenticity, not according to God; this isn’t transformation. This is defeat; this is refusing to do the hard work that follows personal disclosure” That’s the key here! We live in a society and world where everything is out there. But just exposing it for the sake of exposing it isn’t what transformation is all about. I so appreciate your honesty here Elaine….Always worth it stopping by here. Lori

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