Wow – that’s a long title. C’est la vie. Anyway, our congregation has partnered with our neighbor holistic healing center to do a 10-week series based on Brené Brown’s book, The Gifts of Imperfection. It is going to be a powerful series and I am very excited to be a part of it. I was richly blessed by the first night yesterday. Our presenter shared that each week will also have an element of creative work – how to dig deep into this topic using not just notes and discussion but also through art and other creative means. So, of course, my heart went to photography – how can I capture the different guideposts through imagery?
About the first guidepost – Cultivating Authenticity – Letting Go of What People Think…Brown writes:
Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.
While Brown doesn’t specifically reference it, this is a deeply Biblical concept. It gets to the heart of the Genesis story of how God still finds Adam and Eve even as they are hiding from God and God knows exactly what happened. Yet there is the element of shame that they both feel for the first time. And they both begin to hide who they are. And we’ve been doing it ever since.
Jesus in several of the stories we have of him in the Gospels seems to see to the heart of people even as they believe they are hiding those things from him. Jesus with the Samaritan woman in John 4, Jesus “hearing” the bleeding woman from behind him in Mark 5, and Jesus with Peter at the end of John (chapter 21) are just a few of the examples. Even as we hide (intentionally or not), God sees to the heart of each of us. That, to me, is both a comfort and a challenge.
Brown later writes:
Mindfully practicing authenticity during our most soul searching struggles is how we invite grace, joy, and gratitude into our lives.
In her TED talk, Brown also noted that when we numb certain emotions (aka not living authentically) such as fear, anger, anxiety, etc we also numb emotions like joy and wonder. So very true. Living authentically is living with the ability and willingness to share the breadth of where we are. Not an easy thing to do.
So, where does my crazy dog fit into all of this? Scout is probably the most authentic living creature I know right now. Her face, her ears, her tail – all of them show how she is feeling about something right at that moment. When any of us come home, she immediately goes to a spot in the living room, rolls over with her tail wagging crazily saying to us, “give me belly rubs!!!!!” Her joy in seeing us just exudes from her. While I technically know that she is yawning in this picture, it looks more like a big ol smile, “I’m outside on a walk! There’s things to smell! There’s stuff to chew on! YAHOO!” Authenticity. Even this picture – here she is just saying, “I’m sitting here on the couch like this – here I am!”
I wish it were as simple as just flipping a light switch to say, “I’m going to live authentically starting at 5:00pm tonight!” and that was it. But the reality is that there’s a whole lot of baggage that is there for me that makes it hard to do. But, there is grace in how God can work in us when we open ourselves to say, “Lord help me to live as the person you see in me.”