I think there are many misconceptions of what “authentic” means in regard to being “who we are” or “who we’re meant to be.”
For some, it creates an image of someone who’s perfect, who has it all together, and who is precisely in alignment with the fruits of the spirit (loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, self-controlled, and gentle). This woman is a fabulous wife, a great mother, active in ministry, a pillar of the community, moderate in her life, well-read, well-educated, articulate, and someone who completely embodies the Proverbs 31 woman. There is much to be said about all of those attributes and pursuing them is admirable, however, the ideal of perfection is unrealistic and unattainable.
Others believe that being “authentic” means being exactly who we are without editing or moderating our thoughts and actions. And while there’s a modicum of truth to that definition, if “who we are” is not who Christ intended us to be or is outside of God’s will, then we are not truly being authentic.
To determine the real definition of “authentic” we must look to Christ. We need to pour over His Word to see exactly who He is. In so doing, we’ll be led to who we are.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous — how well I know it. (Psalm 139:14)
I’ve heard it explained before that bank employees are instructed to study genuine dollar bills closely. Instead of studying every forgery or fake they come across, they study only the original. They analyze an authentic bill because by recognizing what an authentic bill is, they will know a forgery or a fake when they see it.
The same is true for us in our pursuit to recognize authenticity in our lives and in becoming authentic in our faith. Instead of studying everyone around us, we need to study only one … the One. We need to be so well-versed in who He is that we’ll recognize all of the qualities and traits that are not of Him and identify those as frauds. By learning who He is, we’ll become better acquainted with who He has made us to be. By getting to know Him personally, we’ll be given wisdom and direction to become authentically who we are in Christ.
The beauty of that is, we’ll also be uniquely who God created us to be. A beautiful mystery is that God creates us all different, with unique talents and personalities, yet when we’re in the center of His will and seeking to be like Him, we are authentic, even in our wonderful and varied differences.
Being authentically who I am means sharing His love through the written word. Another’s calling may be singing or art, teaching or philanthropy. A wonderful and surprising truth about that is that God weaves together all of our diverse qualities for His glory. Trying to fit myself into someone else’s mold will only bring about frustration. If I doggedly research everyone around me whom I deem “authentic,” I’ll soon learn there’s no end to the variations and trying to model myself after everyone else will tire me out and prove fruitless. I’ll be further from my authentic self than ever before.
Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart. (Jeremiah 1:5a)
Instead, making my life’s work studying His life will yield the result I’m looking for, and, more importantly, the result He is looking for. Authentic, by definition, means “not false or copied; genuine; real.” There is only One who is genuine: The Great I Am. The Alpha and the Omega. The Beginning and The End. Pursuing Him and allowing Him to make me who He created me to be, is the only sure path to true authenticity.