Posts Tagged ‘Alive!’

LEGACY 6: AUTHENTICITY

May 14, 2018

(Originally written 9/20/14)

Authenticity is, at best, being who you are and were meant to be.

It’s ironic that so-called “reality” shows are really more Truman-esque than real. Because the participants are on-stage, there is an acting-ness, a phoniness.

“All of life is a test.” (from the movie The Recruit) Problem is, with tests, we don’t get to grade ourselves. Someone—or someones—outside ourselves do that. There is some standard we’re being measured against. Are we trying to measure ourselves against that yardstick rather than something intrinsic?

“To thine own self be true,” said Shakespeare’s Polonius. Ironically, he was not. Nonetheless, the truth of that statement captures our fascination. We treasure authenticity. We resonate with people who are real. We are awed by people who are able to operate gloriously in their unique gifting or calling.

Sometimes we envy them, which is a tragic waste of our own undiscovered uniqueness. Trying to copy someone else is like buying a ticket to Cancun but waiting for the plane to Cabo: It doesn’t get you where you really want to go. Both places are great destinations, but only one is right for you, and waiting in the wrong terminal IS terminal. Life is too short for envy.

How do we find our own true self?

  • We have lost the art of listening—to others, to our hearts, to silence. What resonates in your life? Everyone has SOMETHING to offer. The current hit book/movie Divergent plays on this truth, this intense desire we have to find our true calling, to be authentic. Many of our classics relate to the same truth—Tom Sawyer, Chronicles of Narnia, Lord of the Rings, Matrix—the list goes on. We can listen to the stories in what we read or watch—what characters fascinate us? What heroes would we most like to be like? There is a message in our hearts that is only heard by listening to what we are drawn to most.
  • Accept limitations. Be who you are capable of being without putting yourself down for not being more. Accept the linearity of life—we only get one, at least only one at a time. Start where you are. Steady wins the race. Plod if you must, but move toward the real you somehow. Accept the mistakes of the past—they are part of who you are. Make them count. Include them.
  • Smile. Learn to enjoy the moment. Be alive whenever you can, and focus on making it more of the time. Don’t be afraid of rejection—the world is longing for people who know who they are and aren’t afraid to show it.

Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive. –Howard Thurman.

The glory of God is man fully alive. –St. Irenaeus

Advertisements

“A Rock Feels No Pain…” BUT

February 3, 2013

I woke early this morning with the final lines of old Simon & Garfunkel song “I Am A Rock” playing in my mind—the part they play slowly at the end: “…and a rock feels no pain, and an island never cries”—an appealing thought to many in our society, especially when the pain has been great, and the tears many.

Still, not feeling pain can be a bad thing, as lepers and paralytics know—it can lead to physical damage to body parts that fail to respond to stimuli, and can result in infections, sickness, even gangrene and death. (I know this personally from the death of my first wife, but that’s another story for another time.) And never crying can lead to psychological constipation and emotionally stunted growth, and who knows what else. Pain and trauma internalized can be tragic.

But even more tragic are the things that are missed. A rock never gives birth to a child, an idea, or a business. A rock never experiences the pleasures of life or the blessings that pain can sometimes bring. An island cannot cry tears of joy either. A rock never moves or grows or changes. An island doesn’t multiply, or grow families, or have dinner with anyone.

I don’t want to be a rock, eroding slowly, almost eternally, only becoming sand after eons. Not for me the eternal life of the Cumaean Sybil, who forgot to ask for eternal youth, shriveling up until eventually she was placed into a jar.

I want to live and breathe and laugh and cry. I want to feel pain enough to know what true joy is. And one day I want to die gloriously, even if it’s in my sleep. Meanwhile, I want to know people to the fullest—even those who fail me, intentionally or not.

And if I am not remembered in a hundred years, what I have done that is good will still live on in the lives of those who followed, and those whom they blessed and carried on.

I love stories of people who find encouragement in some of the bleakest circumstances, who take lemons and make lemonade—and then set up a stand and sell it, or even give it away. Aron Ralston, who spent 127 hours with his arm trapped by an 800-pound boulder, and who had to cut it off to escape. The rugby players who endured 72 days in the Andes and had to resort to cannibalism to survive. Corrie ten Boom’s sister Betsie, who, in the horrors of a Nazi concentration camp, was able to be thankful for fleas—simply because it meant it kept the guards out, and allowed them to pray, and sing, and fellowship, and to be safe for a moment. She died before getting out—but Corrie lived to tell. The stories like those in Ben Sherwood’s book The Survivors’ Club. Victor Frankl’s story in Man’s Search for Meaning. Bill Strickland’s Making the Impossible Possible. The list goes on and on. I love rambling through the archives in the caverns of my mind.

Life is good. All of life. Somehow. Some way. I know there is a lot of bad—but life IS good! And feeling—and feelings—help make it so. I’m not a rock—thankfully. To re-paint Descartes, “I feel, therefore I am.”

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. Anyone who meets a testing challenge head-on and manages to stick it out is mighty fortunate. For such persons loyally in love with God, the reward is life and more life.

–James 1:2,12 in THE MESSAGE [Peterson]