I have a love/hate relationship with authenticity.
I crave it. I really, really try to model it. I want to live it.
But lately, I'm kind of realizing that maybe I wear it like a coat made out of razors. I'm too sharp, too pointy and just maybe a bit too raw. There are other words that are descriptors - scathing, barbed, acerbic, sarcastic. Do they sound like me?
See, here's the thing. I grew up in a house where everything was hidden. Anything true that wasn't pretty, shiny and delightful was banished to the basement of our lives. It all lived down there behind the big old scary furnace with the octopus arms. Our emotional detritus collected a lot of dust, but like the boxes of outdated clothes and broken kitchen utensils, it just never really went away. I came from stock that always had on happy faces and we didn't talk about anything that made anyone uncomfortable. And Sundays were the worst.
Like most families we got on each other's nerves. Particularly in the car. I clearly remember one trip to church in particular. We kids were most likely being annoying. My father took the bait and war broke out. I remember crying, holding my breath and silently begging for a ceasefire. The words "please stop" were turning over and over in my head all the way to church. And when we pulled up in front of the house in the subdivision that served as the church building there came the inevitable instructions, "You better put a smile on your face before we get inside."
I wiped my tears. Blew my nose. And pasted a plastic smile on my face so we could walk into church. Together. The pastor and his happy family.
And so I live in the tension of a very complicated relationship with authenticity.
Coming into my own, years later I realized I didn't need to pretend anything anymore. And perhaps I went too far.
The whole world doesn't want to know my truth. Nor does it care. I don't need to say everything I think or feel. Maybe I just talk (and write) too damn much.
I don't know.
I do know that I don’t have a red bow to wrap this all together with. I don’t have a grace-lined ending or some nugget of Scripture that ties this all neatly together. Just an honest confession of my constant struggle to be really real. And to be real in a way that doesn't hurt other people in the process.
I think it boils down to the fact that I want to be loved because I am real. Maybe not so much despite my flaws and failures. . .and sarcasm and sharpness. . .I want to be loved because of them.