God designed us to live a life that is authentic. Psalm 139:15, 16, says “My frame was not hidden from You when I was being formed in secret and intricately and curiously wrought as if embroidered with various colours in the depths of the earth a region of darkness and mystery. Your eyes saw my unformed substance, and in Your book all the days of my life were written before ever they took shape, when as yet there was none of them.” We are to be free to be the person God created us to be.
Just recently I had a conversation with friends and we were discussing the meaning of authenticity. One person commented how some people are very different in their private life compared to their public life. For example if a person has anger issues and yells at the children, yet in the public they pretend to be a sweet little person, they are not being true to themselves. Being authentic means we don’t have secrets to hide. Perhaps we need to deal with the anger so that we are genuine in our “sweetness”. If we are trying to deceive others, we will be deceived ourselves.
Integrity means being whole, entire, or undiminished in moral and ethical principles. It involves being honest and truthful in sound character and not living a double standard. By telling others to “Do as I say, and not as I do” are we being a hypocrite? A hypocrite is a fraud and a phony. Most people find this behaviour repulsive, especially the ones who see us behind closed doors. If I am a disrespectful and selfish liar, perhaps I’d be better off to act like a jerk all the time. If so, then at least I would be an authentic jerk! Those who know the “true me”, are probably tired of the act and wish others knew the truth about who I really am.
During my childhood being the youngest of six children made it difficult for me to make my own decisions and choose for myself what was truly authentic. I was like a chameleon, changing with the environment. It took me many years to discover who I wanted to be and to be consistent in being the real me, all the time. Even as an adult I struggled in learning to be genuine and transparent.
In order to be authentic, the goal is consistency. If I desire to be honouring of others and genuinely care about them, then I must develop true character. I have discovered that there is only one way to build character. It is formed by the school of hard knocks. I become a forgiving person by learning to forgive. I become a patient person from opportunities allowing me to demonstrate patience. And I’m learning not to be a jerk, even an authentic one! Being authentic involves deciding who you want to be and then being that person all the time. We allow everything in our lives to be a true reflection of who we really are. Being authentic brings harmony and true contentment. There are no secrets to hide and those closest to you enjoy the consistency of you being your true self all the time. If you despise hypocrites, be a good role model by being the real you, all the time.
Alice Maryniuk is the author of Thinking for a Change. How to transform your life by transforming your thoughts.