In our church, we’ve really been practicing that whole weeping with those who weep thing lately. Yeah guys. It’s been rough. We’ve been hit hard.
In the span of a year we’ve held two particularly shocking funerals… Two funerals that were held for those who made the heart-wrenching decision to end their lives prematurely.
Our church has survived two suicides this year.
We are broken people, like any other community. But here’s the thing… I can’t help but think we might be holding fewer funerals if we had simply done our job.
If we had loved as Christ loved. Cared as he cared. Walked in humility as he walked.
If we had spread our arms wide with Jesus-love, speaking authentically, baring even the ugly doubts and reeking losses… When will we bulldoze through the society of singularity we’ve caved to and create a safety net of untidy grace where people are free to struggle with those hard and holy things that make life so damn hard.
How many more will die before we wake up and realize that authenticity is what will heal our churches?
In the wake of the grief and shock that suicide unleashed upon those left behind, I have found true and authentic community with some of those who have been starving as desperately as I for it. I have bared it all and bathed in the relief it washes over those who plunge themselves into the tidal wave of vulnerability and grace that always follows authenticity. Precious authenticity…
I have never experienced true authenticity as clearly as I have as of late.
I’m never going back.
My sweet friend and dear fellow blogger, Simone of The Adventures of Everygirl, and I have been making this our theme lately.
We’ve realized that this is what we’ve been craving, what’s been missing from our souls. After lots of thought, passionate discussion, and epiphanies numbering in the dozens (because, duh), we finally seemed to grasp what it was that made authenticity so enticing, so addicting.
I’ve taken a few moments to jot down what I believe are the five most important characteristics of habitually authentic people. If you want true community, take note, dear ones.
this was one of our newest realizations. why is it that we are truly afraid to be authentic? we are afraid of the hurt and despair that comes with the judgement we have received in the past. but what would happen if we no longer feared the condemnation of those who have no authority to condemn? what would happen if we were so humble before our God that the opinion of man carried no significant weight? offense stems from pride, and where there is no pride there is no offense. where humility reigns, self is sacrificed and God is glorified in our authentic brokenness.
2. Acceptance (of self and others)
once you have humbled yourself, you can learn to accept your faults, weaknesses, and struggles as part of your own, unique Jesus journey. you can learn to see yourself as Christ does- an imperfect child stumbling in her Father’s footsteps, His shoes far too large for a clumsy attempt at righteousness to fill. and you can see others, stumbling along their own journeys, and accept their messiness as you accept your own.
3. A grasp on grace
humble acceptance holds tight to the untidy grace of God’s glorious love. the mind-numbing bigness of such undeserved favor leads a humble heart to an outpouring of “look what He did in me!”. you can stretch wide in the freedom of a hopeful moment-by-moment opportunity for newness, and the joy it brings, leads to unstoppable speaking of the joy you’ve found in it.
an authentic person intentionally searches for moments ripe for authenticity- moments of vulnerability where the realness of our brokenness and God’s grace can come crashing together in a glorious opportunity for redemption. they don’t just happen. being authentic takes intentional practice that is outside of the average heart’s comfort zone. it takes the risk of manipulation or judgement and says “that’s worth it.” besides, a humble heart, living in acceptance and receiving grace, can take judgement with gentleness and respond with mercy.
5. Authentic community
here’s the kicker: authenticity breeds authenticity. authentic people cause others to be authentic with them. there is a safety that exudes from a person who is authentic. a magnetism so addictive that broken hearts cannot get enough. the authentic person will soon find themselves surrounded by a community of authenticity. and that is a beautiful thing.
go make the world beautiful.
go make it authentic.
you just might save a life.