In a day that craves authenticity and vulnerability, I think we have to turn our discerning ears up to what is real and what is disingenuous, or even problematic.
Here me when I say, or read it as I write,
I think they are two of the most beautiful gifts we can give the world.
Two of the most selfless gifts that we can give. They are acts of love, and further, habits of love.
They are built and stacked on moments
of a person’s story lived alive
and intimacy invited in to the greatest love of all with Christ.
So what are they?
From my story I’d say that authenticity is being true to the spirit, person and character, that my Maker has created me to be and that I am becoming through the daily pruning of life.
So God created man in His own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
This means that I bear His image. And bear means I have the responsibility, the weight, the honor of holding Him above myself and bringing Him glory.
And vulnerability is the daily decision to then live authentically open so that others can get to know their Maker through my story, and hopefully learn more about themselves as someone who also bears Christ’s image.
There is intimacy in God’s intention for us. He is Love. He calls us loved. And all the words He spoke and all the things His hands made were for His good. Nothing else.
Even and especially, us.
This is different, or perhaps just more, than what the culture of today celebrates as authenticity and vulnerability– being true to your self and naming what is real in our lives.
Well if I look within my self everything is not something to be celebrated.
Sin happened and spilled into me.
Should I be true to the self that loses her patience with her children and sends them to bed in frustrated tears? To the self that would rather curl up in bed with a show instead of curling up beside my husband? The self who is tempted to skip meals or load up on sugar only to get rid of it later? The self that says ‘goodbye’ to anything that doesn’t make me feel good and fixes on the temporal fill-ups?
Sure, I can be true to this self and mask it as a “messy” mama whose trying her best and can relate. Or the wife who just needs a little bit of self-care. Or the finding balance woman. Or the I deserve to feel good mentality that this culture is breeding at a rapid speed.
But this “true” self doesn’t embrace the truth of her Maker and that her Maker didn’t make her for her self.
Do you follow?
This self raises up me, places my mess above what pulls me out of it, and I then miss the point of authenticity altogether.
And while these things are part of the real me, it doesn’t end with me.
Thank the good Lord!
My Maker, our loving God, made me for Him.
So that everything I am, everything I do, everything I desire, everything I say would point to Him in honor.
Even after sin.
Even my mess. Even the things that make me “real” as our world begs us to see.
But what the world doesn’t want us to see is the very real nature of what living not for ourselves, but for God means.
It means that if our authenticity and vulnerability isn’t bearing the whole of Christ’s image and our great need for Him, that we are missing the point.
Read this with me will you?
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person– though perhaps for a good person one would dare even die — but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.
The church, Christian communities, closest friendships, social media… many are walking a fine line of disingenuous & problematic if in our authenticity and vulnerability we do not point to the whole of it.
I am afraid that many of us refuse to embrace the offense of our faith, the reality of not just the grace that we can rest in, but what the blood and the death and the finality of the cost of sin means.
If we believe that Christ died for us that we may have a forever home with Him, we cannot deny that He demands the whole of our life in the getting there, not a picking and choosing and feel-good lifestyle.
The rich young ruler wanted desperately to follow Jesus, but refused to give up the things he held more close than the Christ who came to save him.
In our efforts towards authenticity and in our willingness to be vulnerable, is the whole of our life reflective of the most authentic Love of all? The most vulnerable act of all?
When God let His son die for the sake of my self.
Are we giving up our truest selves to expose the heart of our Maker?
So what does this mean for me as a woman, bride and mama doing her best to live the authentic and vulnerable life before heaven?
I know I’m failing in many ways.
But I think it means the pursuit of upholding the redemptive love of my Maker in all that I share.
In a simplistic break down,
In a vulnerable space I can say that I am a woman who daily struggles.
I struggle with comparison and the value I hold as a singular beauty in the midst of a beautiful world. I cross analyze myself against other women, I grumble and I moan about the getting there, I nit-pick my own doing and not doing, I struggle with intimacy because of it, I am tempted towards old “control” over my eating and I scroll the social media lines and find myself battling distortion and confusion over parts of myself.
Redemption allows me to authentically tell you that I am daily learning my identity in Christ. I understand I was made to show of His splendor. I am digging into fueling the things that display that splendor uniquely and honor that it goes far beyond my outward beauty or the words I say. I lean into the strength He gives me to take control and in a way that teaches holiness. And when I can’t, I lean into friendships He has graced me with to help lift the burden and reconcile myself to His hope.
In vulnerability I can share that being a wife is self-shedding and that marriage is not what I imagined.
It is in most ways better, but it is also the single most difficult thing I have done. In honesty Jeff and I have conflict and tension, there are days where we don’t like each other and the sight of one another frustrates the hell out of the other. We have had our fair share of ugly, making love isn’t always easy and both of us are in constant changing motion. We sometimes fight for ourselves more than we fight for our marriage, and loving one another is a daily choice we make.
Redemption is the Love that holds us and the grace that keeps us grounded. We know that marriage is not about our happiness but about His holiness. We also know it’s temporal and that we in no way complete the other. The Lord already filled that gap. We have been pruned in communication, we lean deep into prayer and God has been so kind to show us more of His tenderness through the intimate layers of love than we ever dare dreamed. We have learned how to fight for fighting well and we know that in honoring one another we are honoring the One who chose the joining of our stories.
In a vulnerable space I can tell you that mothering is hard.
That I love being a mama and that the love I have for my children is fierce, even to the point of crippling at times. I can say that there are days where I wrestle with purpose beyond the tangible of cleaning up their poop and teaching the alphabet. I struggle to let my breasts go further for the sake of nourishment, yet at the same time ache to give my kids the very best I can. I battle control and what ifs, I get impatient and I want space from little humans touching me.
Redemption frees me to tell you that the Father loves my kids more than I can possibly imagine. That He handpicked them for my womb, for my raising, for my nurture and my discipline. He set them apart for great purpose, just as He purposed me for this role. He has faithfully sustained my body to bear life, even after loss, and given me the joy of heaven’s longing through it. He gives me Kingdom eyes instead of temporal and a comforting place of rest when my breasts and my heart feel depleted.
This is part of my authentic journey that I delight in sharing vulnerably with you. Because in doing so, I get to invite others in to the redemptive love of Jesus. I get to name the pain, the frustrations, the bitterness, the struggles, the mess, the discontentment, the worry and the grief…and then I get to spill a little bit of the wholeness and Hope that mends it for me, day to day and forever.