Beliefnet
Your Morning Cup of Inspiration

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We live in a world in which many people don’t live authentically. They hide who they really are from everyone.  Perhaps they hide their sexual orientation.  They may hide their past mistakes.  Or they may hide the fact that they grew up in a poor or dysfunctional household.

However, it is exhausting to try to hide who you truly are from the world. Pretending to be someone you are not is tiring.  But I understand why people do so.  The world is a very judgmental place.  And it takes a lot of self-confidence and emotional maturity to not care what other people think of you.  But it is only when we stop worrying about what others think of us that we can start being ourselves and be happy.

In order to live an authentic life, you need to be honest with the world about who you are – and who you are not. That means being truthful about the messier parts of your life.  For instance, I grew up in a home that was very dysfunctional. Worse yet, when I was a teenager, my parents had a messy divorce.  I, in turn, unfortunately divorced in my mid-forties.  None of that is anything to brag about.

But trying to hide these parts of my life won’t help me. These experiences have shaped who I am.  They’ve allowed me to know both the good and bad of human beings.  And they have made me a more resilient person.  I am tougher because I’ve had to endure difficult experiences.  Trying to hide these parts of my life due to embarrassment would prevent people from understanding me completely.

It is shame that prevents us from being our authentic selves. We may be ashamed of who we are.  Or we may be ashamed by what we have experienced, or what we have done.  But there is no reason to ever be ashamed of any aspect of your life.  Why?  Because God’s opinion of you is the only one that matters.  And God loves you just as you are.  If you’ve made mistakes, God forgives you, as you would forgive your own child if he or she made a mistake.

God doesn’t care about the messiness of your life, the mistakes you have made, or the imperfections of your personality. In fact, from God’s point of view, these imperfections serve a very important purpose – they make you a better person.  Your mistakes are there to keep you from being judgmental toward others.  Your bad experiences are there to help you feel compassion for others who are suffering.  And your imperfections are there to inspire you to seek God’s help and counsel.

So, you don’t need to be afraid to be your authentic self. God loves you, and He is fully invested in using all your imperfections to help you become the best person that you can be.  He will take the messiness of your life and use it in some creative way to improve you and benefit you.

Once you start living your authentic life, you can start to relax. Trying to be someone you are not is exhausting.  For instance, trying to appear to be rich when you are poor is a quick way to get into a lot of debt.  People who try to appear to be rich end up buying clothes, cars, and houses that they cannot afford.  Instead, be happy with what you have today.  Take good care of your belongings.  Live within your means and take pride in the fact that you are financially responsible.

Trying to appear to be young when you are older likewise can lead to poor results.  How often do we see women who otherwise would be quite beautiful, if they had not overdone cosmetic surgery.  I will admit that growing older is hard.  My face and body do not look the same as they did in my twenties.  Sometimes I look in the mirror and think, “My neck!  Why is my neck wrinkly?  When did that happen??”  But I am learning to accept my body and face for what they are.  So, I try my best to look as nice as possible with what I have.  And to a certain extent, I enjoy the challenge!  Looking good when you are in your twenties is a no-brainer.  However, looking good when you are pushing 50 is an accomplishment!

Another area in which people can be inauthentic is with regard to their sexual orientation. Pretending to be straight when you are gay leads to your lying to everyone.  I know two women who are gay but who cannot bring themselves to be honest about who they are.  As a result, they live double lives – the one that they share with their families and their work colleagues, and another secret life.  It is a sad and stressful way to exist.  In this day and age, there is no reason to lie about your sexual orientation.  Yes, there may be some people who will disapprove of you, but those are an unenlightened few.  Most educated people simply will not care one way or another.

My best advice is this: Life authentically. Be who you are.  Don’t be ashamed of the unique person that God has made you to be.  Don’t be ashamed of your past or the mistakes that you’ve made.  Don’t be ashamed that you are not as far along as you would like to be professionally, financially or in terms of emotional maturity.  Each of us is a work-in-progress until the day that we die.  Instead, let people know the real you.  By allowing others to see us for who we really are, we can then relax and truly enjoy life.

(Photo Courtesy of Pexels)

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