Yes, my cheerleading roots are showing! I say authenticity, you think rejection. Authenticity! Rejection! Authenticity! Rejection! BUT, what if it went more like this?
I say authenticity, you shout with relieved joy. Authenticity! Joy! Authenticity! Joy!
I have found both responses to be true and I have come to peace with both responses. Before we dive into that deeper, let’s back up and ask why I am so big on authenticity.
There is a recent conversation that has me focusing on authenticity with fresh eyes and I have a long history with many awkward, stumbling attempts to step fully into my authenticity.
Authenticity is the willingness to show up and be seen for our true personality, thoughts, emotions, fears, etc. This is not easy. This is fear-inducing. However, without authenticity, how will we ever feel true joy, peace, empathy, love, and the list could go on and on. Authenticity is the gateway into true relationship with self, God, and others and without it, our lives remain small and unfulfilled.
My recent conversation around authenticity had me re-examining my choices. A dear one told me if I would just be the person my dad needs me to be and then be my true self away from him, I would be accepted into the family again. This dear one went on to tell me that is exactly what she had done as a way of honoring her dad and now that he has passed, she is glad she lived two separate versions of herself.
Initially, I felt high amounts of resistance and then I remembered resistance is calling me to closer examination. I thought about this long and hard and I decided while the principle of what she was describing is good, I am not sure it aligns with my values. You see, I am more than willing to avoid hot topics with my dad in order to promote more connection in our relationship, however, I am not willing to change who I am to make him more comfortable. As long as his discomfort is about him, and I am not doing anything to intentionally harm him or our relationship, it is up to him to resolve his discomfort.
Maybe this example will illustrate what I mean. It has become clear over the years that my dad and I interpret the Bible very differently and it is not beneficial to our relationship to discuss biblical interpretation in any way because it always ends in abusive words from him and hurt feelings on my part. Out of respect for our relationship, I don’t discuss the Bible or its interpretation with my dad. That being said, there is a fine line of authenticity here because I live my life out based on how I interpret the Bible, as does my dad. I believe Jesus is the full representation of God and thus is all good and all loving, which means I am to be love and light where I am with whomever I am with. I think it is possible that kind of love messes with my dad and makes him uncomfortable at times because deep inside I wonder it he believes he deserves ugliness in return for his harshness towards me. And, in the past, I was very good at dishing hatred and ugliness back at him when I felt judged or abused. This is just my theory as he has never told me that in so many words, but it supports me in making sense of it all.
Authenticity requires me to love my dad no matter how he chooses to treat me. Authenticity does not require me to discuss my belief system with my dad when I know it will upset him. In fact, I would say because love always is the higher value, it is even more authentic for me to refrain from discussing my belief system when I know it will cause more harm than good.
Has authenticity brought me rejection? Indeed it has, but I am willing to pay that cost if
it means I stay true to being love and light in the world.
Has authenticity brought me joy? Absolutely, and that makes every painful rejection more bearable because the freedom found in authenticity is the gateway to true joy and inner peace. And, when I love my dad, or anyone else who rejects me, in the midst of that rejection, there is a deep sense of peace because I was true to what I believe and I believe love wins every single time even if we never directly witness the results.