Saturday, June 13, 2009

Authenticity

Over the course of the past few days, I have struggled with an internal war of discovering my authenticity. Landing in South Africa and being hurled into a large event with 200 strangers and, further, encouraged to engage in dialogue was an intimidating shock to my system. I think the only positive in coming into that environment is that it was exactly what I anticipated and was mentally trying to prepare for. How I struggled internally throughout the week (and even now) is no surprise to me, but still I have to admit that a small part of me - the part that feels inferior and lacks a sense of belonging - really wants to come home. It's that part of me that would rather recluse and lock myself in the house on a Saturday afternoon, curled up under a blanket in front of the TV, that longs to escape from interacting with a group of people who have yet to know me deeply. I long to escape because, at some level, I do not want them to know me deeply. In that concept is a very real fear of rejection...and I have coped with this all my life by avoiding the deep. I find after it's breached the outer boundaries of small talk, I find some excuse to duck out.

But, the truth is, I long for a deeper connection. I long to reach a comfort far beyond small talk where I can be real. And, when I consider this longing, I realize I also long to know what it is to be real. I hate social circles and I hate small talk...mostly because it always begins with the pretense of having to be someone you are not. Consider the common question, "So, what do you do?" How many times have you asked this and actually cared about a person's occupation? Think about it...and be honest. As for myself, I rarely do. I'm just reaching for any conduit into connecting with that person I can get my hands on. Empty, icebreaker questions and my subsequent disinterest in the answer rarely actually gets me there.

What kind of dialogue can we build with strangers that feels less like polite schmoozing and more like a genuine desire to connect and relate with one another?

How about the kind of conversation that isn't concerned as to whether that connection is successfully made, or whether we are accepted as individuals as a result? How about the kind of conversation where we apply only the necessary social or cultural filters, instead of the assumed, ancillary filters based on what little we know of the individual?

By framing my dialogue by what I think you want to hear, I rob you of my authentic self. And, the more conversations I have like this, the more I rob me of my authentic self.

My desire in this season is to seek freedom from self (self-esteem, self-confidence, self-loathing) in order to rebuild that authenticity. I see this as a clear obstacle in connecting deeper to God's calling and purpose in my life.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting, I was just laying on the couch this fine Saturday afternoon watching TV. So I guess we are similar in that way. I wasn't under a blanket, just had the cat resting on me. He says Meow.

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