See there? That is definition number two of four for the word “authentic” as given by dictionary.com
Last week on Twitter, I saw a quote by Perry Noble that said “Too many people are using the word ‘authentic’ as an excuse to do things as poorly as possible.” Pontification (pompous or dogmatic thought – yep, that’s me) commenced immediately. It only took about five seconds, but lots of questions began to pop up in my mind.
What is authenticity in my life? Where do I excuse myself to do poorly or behave badly in an effort to say “Oh, I’m just being authentic…I’m just being real or I’m just sayin.'”
For the better part of my childhood, I remember being told to ” be nice!” I also remember being told on more than one occasion in club sports that I had a bad attitude. Pretty shocking stuff, I know. When I look back now, I realize that much of what made me behave badly or have a bad attitude was really an expression of frustration or hurt. It has taken a lot of years to smooth much of that out and believe me I am still working and probably always will be so no judgment here. However, over the years I have discovered that much of what makes us truly authentic is admitting that we are flawed people and being able to integrate that into our lives in a productive way. The other part comes from that second definition of the word “authentic” that I found nestled between definitions one and three on dictionary.com. I have an origin supported by unquestionable evidence, I am verified and I am an authentic creation made by God himself.
My husband and I sometimes watch this antiques show on PBS. If you have ever seen any of those shows where they determine the value of whatever found object they are inspecting, you will note that they are always trying to authenticate the object. They speak about the origin of the object, what time period it is from, what purpose did it have, what material it was made of and so on. The authentication piece is very important. If an object is reproduced or is not authentic to the time period or a specific artist, blacksmith, mason, ethnic group/culture or other verified creator then the value goes down. The object is found to be less valuable because there is no way to authenticate or verify its value. If the object is authenticated and found to be from an original creator then the value increases substantially, sometimes even in spite of the condition it may be in.
I was created. One, by the creator of this universe and two, by my parents. I was created in God’s image and despite flaws, nicks, wear and tear and fading – I am not a mistake. I have been known to be mean and I have been known to have a bad attitude. Those parts of me are not authentic. Those parts of me are an expression of the things in me that are yet to be worked out. I agree with Perry Noble. I think too many people are using the word “authentic” to do things as poorly as possible. I also think they use this word to excuse bad behavior. If I behave badly, it is because I am hurting or I have been hurt it is not because I am being authentic. If I am honest, I am actually behaving out of my pathology (oh my, not psychology words!!). My authentic nature is to help people, encourage people, to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves – remembering that I am authentically created in God’s image. Unfortunately, I am not above bad behavior (for which I am not proud). I am not above speaking mean things in a snap of frustration. I am not above having a bad attitude or being a “grumpy mommy” (so says my son!). But the most amazing thing? I am also not above God’s grace. I am not excluded from his grace because I am His authentic creation. And pretty much, so are you whether you want to think so or not.
So, I admit to being authentic. But not the current cultural authentic where I get to make excuses for speaking badly about others in the name of truth or honesty, make excuses for being mean because I am hurting or make excuses to “do things as poorly as possible” because I feel lazy or overwhelmed. I mean the eternal kind of authentic where I know my creator and He knows me and I do my best not to make excuses for all the junk in between.
p.s. these are my circular thoughts and by no way reflect the thoughts, ministry, beliefs or teachings of Perry Noble. Just a response to a very insightful Tweet!
Categories: All The Rest