Be authentic, not an impostor

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Why do you cover up the real person that you see? You are great just as you are. Why do you pretend to be something you're not? Are you not good enough as you exist? You are made in the image of God, right? "So God created man in his own image." (Genesis 1:27)

Acting in a way that's unfamiliar wastes energy. However, fakery usually wanes as people mature. Trying to impress others seems to be more prevalent in young adults attempting to find themselves.

The young want to be popular, particularly if they rely on worldly approval to gauge value. They haven't yet gained the confidence they need, so they look for it in the wrong places and ways.

While in grade school and attempting so avidly to fit in, my girlfriends and I would scrutinize, on our overnight sleepovers, those in our class who seemed to have it all. They dressed stylishly, seemed to have a great personality and reeked with enviable confidence. It was sickening. One week we would act, talk and laugh one way. That wouldn't work, so the next week we'd take another approach. That didn't seem to make us the stars of the class either. I would be miserable for a while and feel rejected, ugly and awful, experiencing those negative emotions that only the young encounter. Unfortunately, many continue feeling inferior their entire lives.

Stress is paramount when you are living a lie and behaving in a manner that's artificial. What is the real you that makes you rare and unique? Carve out the qualities that only you can contribute, and be proud to own them.

When people become authentic allowing others to see what's inside them, they become lovable simply by being themselves -- made in the image of God. Don't mar that image!

Notice the charm children radiate? No one can replace them. A little girl remarked to the boy sitting next to her in our car, "I'm really glad we have the new restaurant in town." I thought the boy would respond with, "Me, too." But instead, he said, "Yeah, but I'm sad because the old restaurant went out of business." We all laughed, but I admired his compassion. Ah, the wisdom of little ones.

People want to know the person who's genuine. There's beauty and wonder in those who allow you to sample their different qualities. Although roses may look the same, it's how well he knows each plant as he tends his garden that makes each rose different to the gardener. He chooses to love all his children.

When parents rear children, regardless of which is the most beautiful or handsome, the smartest or most talented, good parents love them all equally. Each child is unique. Every child holds amazement for the parents.

My mom was genuine for sure -- charming and funny simply because she was so candid. I can remember one time when this wholesome, hardworking farm woman attended a farm credit association meeting. She got all dressed up complete with a new red hat with a feather on top. Feathers on women's hats were fashionable then. She placed the hat on top of her black hair, arranged her curls, and off we went.

She carried herself like royalty, like the belle of the ball that day. Then when the meeting was almost over, Dad noticed that Mom had her new hat on backward. Embarrassed, she changed it. The incident provided lots of laughter for years to come to our family. Mom was simple but so lovable because she was one of a kind. When Mom made mistakes she laughed and poked fun at herself. She always said she "liked herself just the way she was."

Don't be an impostor. You will be less stressed and more confident and lovable if you allow others to know the person that is genuinely you.

Ellen Shuck holds degrees in psychology, religious education and spiritual direction and provides spiritual direction to people at her office.

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