I wrote this in May 2012 for the newsletter for the church that I attend…
Perspectives…by Anne Sweeney
Am I living and Authentic Life?
I attended a memorial party for a friend who lost her life recently to cancer. During that party they showed a video of pictures taken throughout her life. They were just beautiful and such a reflection of who she was and the life she led. She was really a wonderful, funny person and during her 16 year battle with cancer she lived her life to the fullest. What I call an Authentic life. Maybe when a person is faced with a life threatening illness they know they need to live their life as best they can…maybe the reality of facing death takes the fear out of living life.
What is an Authentic Life? Mike Robbins author of “Be Yourself- Everyone Else is Already Taken” defines an authentic life as “enjoying a new sense of freedom to be who you really are – yourself, natural and without a mask.” He explains that there are five principles of authenticity –
1) Know Yourself – this refers to self-discovery and growth about yourself
2) Transform your fear – a willingness to express, own and face your fears
3) Express Yourself – honestly express your emotions
4) Be Bold – going for it- even it you are scared
5) Celebrate who you are – loving and appreciating the person you are.
I would add a sixth principle to the list above – trust God who gave you life – to help you to find an authentic life. Without a relationship with God I see the five principles above being hard to reach. It is God who will carry us through every trial. God wants us to live an authentic life.
I have done a lot of changing over the years. I used to be trapped in trying to please everyone, I had trouble saying no and I often did things that others thought I should do. As I matured I realized I wasn’t happy conforming to what the norm was for others. So I sought out my own normal. Often when I had an idea that was out of the norm a lot of people liked to tell me why I shouldn’t do it. Then I knew that my idea was a good one for me! Take our farm- we would not be here if we had not followed a “normal” path. It was our faith in God and ability to step out of the box that led us to this place.
I still battle with having an authentic life. I battle with anxiety – and sometimes fear stands in my way. But my relationship with the Lord has helped me so much. The more I trust him the better I am able to face my fears as in step 2 above. I am not always authentic..my opinions are often different than others – should I be real and express them? I think if asked my opinion I should give it and that is when being real can be hard. Questions like “who are you voting for?”- can make me mute- should I answer with the truth even though I know this person is voting for the other guy and he might get upset and argue with me? Or should I just go along with the conversation to avoid argument? Maybe politics is a bad example but you get my drift.
I often don’t want to offend people by talking too much about my relationship with Jesus Christ. Why do I do that? My relationship with Jesus has only brought amazing blessings to my life. I look at life in such a different way. It is a gift I long to share but I often feel like I will offend someone if I share with them. But to be truly authentic I really need to feel I can speak about something that defines who I am. So I am a work in progress. Where are you in this journey? Maybe you had never thought about this until you read this article! Maybe you never will think of it again! But for some, maybe your like me – on a journey to find the most authentic life you can. I can’t think of anything more freeing than living a life authentically. But it is getting to that freedom that is the journey.
I think being able to bring who we really are to the table will enhance our relationships. Deepen them. You know how it feels to see an old friend from the past- one who you knew when you were young? There is so much comfort there probably because at some point when we were young we felt freer to be ourselves. So the connection is deep.
The Bible tells us the type of life we can live. All of Paul’s letters clearly show us what is important in living life. Proverbs is another source to find the life God wants us to lead. The Bible can be a guide and a comfort in a journey to be more authentic. Jesus was completely authentic. He could not have been anything but. He was who he was – he spoke what he felt and taught what he knew God ,his father, wanted him to teach even when he knew many people would dislike him – hate him- fear him – for what he said and who he was. It is hard to live that kind of life because as humans we want to be accepted and loved. To live authentically though we have to understand not everyone here on earth is going to love – or like us- but there is always one that loves all the time- that is God the Father. We also have to let others live their lives authentically.
There are some famous people who understood the need to be authentic:
Henry David Thoreau went to the woods to search for authenticity in his own life. He is quoted as saying “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.” Thoreau went to the live in the woods in order to find a more authentic life.
Steve Jobs said: ”Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
We don’t need to go to the woods to live to find our authentic life. We can look inside ourselves right in our own homes. We can trust God to lead us to the life He planned for us. And He can be the bridge over our fears.
When in doubt read Philippians 4:6-7 says “6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (NIV). Bring your worries to the Lord and he will give you peace.
Thanks for reading….