Saturday, January 30, 2016

The right kind of authenticity...(follow up to yesterday's post)

Free-for-all, I get to be who I want to be, authenticity is dangerous and should be discouraged.

That being said, authenticity is necessary for the appropriate development of character and personhood.

For example, an alcoholic will never leave their alcoholism until they become aware and authentic before God and others. They aren't "just a guy who takes a few too many drinks now and again." They are an addict. They need a place and people where this struggle can be confessed without condemnation, and then those places and people will walk with them gracefully to find healing and hope.

If the alcoholic says, "Shove it, you have to love me as I am," no caring person would say, "Ok." Real love usually involves caring for and "willing the good of another" (a philosophical definition of love) despite who they are or for what they do. I can love Jihadists and hope they experience goodness, without approving or accepting them for who they are.

I'd go as far to say that authenticity without humility is always dangerous. Authenticity without the assumption that who we are is not who we are supposed to be is also dangerous.

If I'm genuine about who I am, I'll recognize that unlike pure gold, I'm a mixed bag. Sure, I want to find a place and people who love me and accept me in this imperfect condition, but these are not good places nor good people if they let me stay imperfect. My parents always loved me; I never doubted it. I felt fairly safe in my own skin. But I never questioned their love when they told me certain behaviors or attitudes were unacceptable. In fact, their gracious commitment to my moral development actually led me to be more authentic as time went on.

All that to say, creating safe places for authenticity is not easy. Some will be too accepting. Some will be too motivated to see change. The balance will never be right. As such, I realize it's more on me, the individual, to choose to be authentic and genuine. I can't wait until there is a perfect person or a perfect environment (though God would fit that bill if you are really looking). In the rough and tumble of real life, I'll need to be real among real people (imperfect ones). Maybe my first step is what it takes for a whole bunch of other people to become who they were meant to be.

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