Authenticity

Parent Thought: Being Authentic With Your Kids

photo-26 I have the greatest kids. I really do, and if you know my family you can bear witness to this fact.

My kids aren't perfect—they have their allotment of problems and issues, but by and large my kids are great.

I wish I could say I was a super-parent, you know one of those dads, who takes every moment and makes it a life-changing lesson. Or intentionally spent a ton of time with them. 

I'm afraid this isn't necessarily the case. There have been times, more frequent than I care to admit, where I said something to my kids only to go back and contradict myself or tell them I was completely wrong with the advice I gave them. My kids know I can be long-winded, that I can speak harshly to them sometimes, and have been known to raise my voice.

I wasn't the best time manager with my kids either. I more often chose to work on my career than I did tossing the ball or having tea parties with them. In fact, I have probably told my kids "I wish I would have done this" more than I have said, "insert something wise and clever here..."

Here's the thing.

I have tried to demonstrate an authentic life to my kids. My kids know my story, they know my stumbles, my sure-steps, my victories, and my defeats. They know I'm still be made new in Christ Jesus. My kids know what I don't want to be and what I do want to become.

Authenticity is tricky, especially when it comes to being authentic with your children. You don't want to reveal too much—an inappropriate amount and at inappropriate times or life-stages. And maybe there are somethings your children should never know about you. I get that.

You can run the risk of your kids looking at you with a negative lens. And some will say it can cause some type of emotional damage... blah, blah, blah... I know I get the dangers of being authentic with your kids.

Here is what I am not saying...

 

I am not saying that speaking truth and wisdom or spending tons of time with your kids is wrong. I think it is very important to do these things.

 

Parents need to do these things. Wisdom and time—they are high on the priority list when it comes to parenting. But never neglect authenticity.

 

False Identity and False Idols

But you know what! It's more dangerous for your kids to see you for who you really are after you put up a false front, and believe me at some point in their lives they will, than it is for you to intentionally allow them to see some of the ugliness of your life and see how you seek to become a better person.

Some parents play it too safe and create a false identity, which in turn gives their kids an unrealistic target to aim for—it can create false idols for them to want to become like. And when they don't, they might not have the tools to deal with failure.

I hope my kids seek to be authentic verses being perfect or someone they are not. I want to show them what it means to be on an adventure—on a journey through this thing called life.

***Note to my kids: despite what I said, I really am made of steel, don't feel pain, am not ticklish, and the tip of my thumb does detach from the rest of my thumb...

Just Be You...

IMG_3970Take a look at the photo at top-center in this blog post... I'm the kid in the yellow tank top, blue shorts, and the tube socks. Yes, AND the shaggy hair cut. *Side-note: I find it funny that my cousin Mark has his name on his shirt to remind himself of his name. I guess it was just indicative of the times to come...

In many ways I am still that little kid with the tube socks and shaggy hair, albeit, much older and note quite as skinny as I was back then and a little less hair. Appearances aside, much of the things I liked to do then, I still like to do now.

I am avid reader, I love to write and journal, I love to talk and meet new people, but yet I'm really an introvert, and I love being around a small group of people I love and trust. I love to run, this photo was taken around the time that Mark, my sister and I went on a five mile run with my dad and I was the only one who finished the run along with my dad...

I still like to just sit outside and think about life, and I still like to play with toy soldiers and create historical mock battles... But for those closest to me, know that there are times I struggle with trying to fit in or be someone I am not.

All this to say I am just me...

The Struggle With Authenticity...

We live in a very complex world. With complex ideas and complex people. What comes with all this complexity is the desire to match up, keep up, live up, and one up the people that we do life with. Sometimes I think we do this with conscious intentionality, but I believe most of the time we are unaware that we are playing to the crowd so to speak.

We unconsciously fall into the bondage of trying to be what everyone wants us to be or at least what we think everyone wants us to be.

social-media-iconsIn this digital age or more precisely the influence of social media in our everyday lives, we have built mini-imposter empires that make it quick and easy to be inauthentic, which doesn't allow us to be who we really are and who we really want to become.

The problem is most people are more perceptive than we think they are or give them credit for. Most people can see through our facade or false persona. And the greatest temptation with social media is to be someone you're not - an inauthentic you, but in reality people just want you to be you, so be you.

I heard this quote the other day and it struck me:

Be yourself. Authenticity trumps cool every time. – Craig Groeschel

Being authentic doesn't mean your goal is to be likable. It's being comfortable in your un-photoshopped self, whether people like you or not. Being one's self provides a sense of freedom and contentment.

I am not saying that you or I have arrived to exactly where we need be or that we are in any way shape or form perfect. We are all or all should be striving to be the best "me" we can be.

Being who you are is acknowledging that you are an imperfect creature journeying, learning, and growing your way through life all the while being the authentic you.

Christine Caine sometime back on her facebook page posted this comment,

"There’s beauty in imperfection. When something becomes too polished, it loses its soul. Authenticity trumps professionalism! – Christine Caine

What God Desires For You...

Jesus came to make all things new (Revelation 21:5) and he came to provide us with a new life, where the old is passed away and the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:14-17). The thing of it is that this is a now and not yet process.

In God we are immediately seen as a new creation, but through the work of the Holy Spirit, we are in the process of being transformed into what God has desired and destined us to be.

Being authentic is realizing that we are growing and learning as we journey to become all that God intends for us to be, but at the same time being content with who God has made us to be and called us to be.

Four Ways That Help Me Cultivate Authenticity In My Life:

  • Exercise self-awareness. Wrestle with who you are and with who you're becoming. Don't be afraid to question yourself. Ask yourself if your are the person you want to be and who God wants you too be? Are they one in the same? Ask what it is you don't like about yourself and what it is you do like about yourself? Then seek to work-on or build on those things.
  • Have mentors and accountability partners. Surround yourself with wise and honest people. People that can speak into your life and help you stay on course. You want people that can be real and speak truth to you even when you don't want to hear it. They can tell you when your being an idiot and straying off course.
  • Combat the urge to create an alter ego on social media. Be healthily and appropriately transparent, be honest, and be yourself. As I stated previously, being authentic doesn't mean your goal is to be likable. It's being comfortable in your un-photoshopped self, whether people like you or not. So be un-photoshopped and just be you.
  • Don't be preoccupied with yourself. This is a hard one for me... Seek to know others as much or more than you want to be known. When interacting with others, be present and listen to them. Be more concerned with listening instead of talking. I list three questions I use to be a better listener in a previous blog post, which you can read here: How To Listen Well...

In the end lighten up and learn to laugh at yourself.

Joe 10720_174082484800_515924800_2623349_7040308_n

Yep, this is me...

My mom and me. Maybe 1979 or 1980.

Yep, this is me...

Yep, this is me... I complain about sensitive people, but really I am just as sensitive. Yep, this is me... I hate having pictures taking of me, because I hate seeing how fat I am. Yep, this is me... I really want to be healthy, but I can't wait to have the new Twinkies (It's a go: Operation Twinkie-gluttony with secret agent Elle).

Yep, this is me... I struggle being comfortable with who I really am with God, others, and myself. Yep, this is me... I think I'm a really awkward/nerdy person, and don't really know how to have one on one conversations.

Yep, this is me... I love laughing and having a good time, but I struggle with enjoying the moment. Yep, this is me... I still am trying to figure out who I am, and I'm 40 years old. Yep, this is me... I struggle with getting older, even though I told myself I never would. Yep, this is me... I am pissed off that some people think being 40 and older makes you unmarketable and unemployable.

Yep, this is me... I call people out for being selfish, but I am the most selfish person I know. Yep, this is me... I almost blew it with my wife many years ago, and have done this several times since. Yep, this is me... I wish I could be a romantic person, but I think being romantic is weird. Yep, this is me... I tell people that I don't care what they think of me, and get really worried that I don't care.

Yep, this is me... I can have a tendency to not let people into my trust circle. Yep, this is me... I can also have the tendency to let the wrong people into my trust circle. Yep, this is me... I can over promise and under deliver. Which makes me work even harder in the end, with the result of burnout. Yep, this is me... I am a lazy person, but cover up my laziness with over working.

Yep, this is me... I struggle with the American church, but I'm afraid to voice my opinion too loud. I have too much to lose. Yep, this is me... I struggle with consistently reading the Bible and praying. Yep, this is me... I more often than not live in fear of man, instead of the fear of God.

Yep, this is me... I am worried about people reading this and using what I have posted here against me.

You know what though... Despite all my failures, weaknesses, and insecurities; God will continue to use me. God isn't finished with me; he is only just beginning.

We all need to get over ourselves.

We'll never be good enough, perfect enough, or having things exactly the way we want them to be. AND that is okay. God has extended grace to us through Jesus, so that we can live life to it's fullest.

Life is too short to not enjoy it; so Enjoy it!

Joe (Submitted to the Weekly Writing Challenge: A Pinch of You)