Young Truman: I want to be an explorer, like the Great Magellan.
Teacher: [indicating a map of the world] Oh, you’re too late! There’s nothing left to explore!

– from The Truman Show

I stand in the middle of the red brick road, the sky perfect blue above me, the picket fences perfect white beside me. I walk slow and marvel at the eerily cheerful colored houses, bright but empty. I am Truman Burbank, minus the cameras and the goofy smile. Well, and lots of other things too but you know what I mean. I understand Truman as I stand there, know why he would want to travel the world and explore. Because the thing that makes this place so uncomfortable is also what is supposed to make it great – it’s too perfect. I stand in the middle of the busy hallway, children stuck to my side. I want to be real but the line isn’t moving and I have to get these children into Sunday school, you know. Sometimes there is only time for fine at church. I am Truman again and I want to explore, be explored, want you to see what goes on behind these eyes. But it’s late and I’m tired and maybe there’s nothing left worth finding anyway.

I wrote a whole chapter on what it means to hide behind our picket fences, to show the world our prettied up versions, to say we’re fine even when we’re not because it’s safer or maybe we’re just lazy. I still struggle with this one, circle around this word authenticity, wrestle with how the meaning changes for me as I get older. I’ve talked with lots of women about this and there is always the argument that sometimes when people ask how I’m doing, they don’t really want to know. And I’d have to agree with that. I hesitate as I write this, though, because isn’t this a tired conversation? Haven’t we exhausted this concept already? Are there still honestly ways I hide from you and the world and my husband? Is there anything left to explore?

My circle is small and those who really know me are few. But they are there and they are listening and I am thankful. I’ve grown in my ability to be honest with people I trust. I think it’s because of time and grace and being loved anyway enough times. I’m learning that they don’t want to see lined up pretty with pastel cheeks, picket fence smiles and covered up secrets. They just want to see me.

Even after all you have read and heard and know about authenticity, is it still hard for you to practice? If yes, what makes it so and what would make it easier?

by Emily Freeman, Chatting at the Sky

**I recently took these photos in the planned community of Seaside, Florida where The Truman Show was filmed back in 1998.

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  • http://www.wheniamafraid.com/ Laura

    I finished your book about a week ago, and this concept is one that really resonated with me. But I still rarely even peek out from behind my little fence.

    Our family recently moved from Las Vegas to Spain. Talk about culture shock! The move was so hard for us, and I found myself retreating further and further into myself. Saying “fine” and putting on my smile and raising my hands in worship, and then coming home and crying and wondering why nobody wanted to get to know me.

    One Sunday was just too much to bear, and when someone asked me “how are you doing today,” I broke into tears and actually gave an honest answer. And you wanna know what? She didn’t run away. She cried with me and hugged me and has become one of my very best friends. That first conversation has set the tone for our friendship, and we are able to be more real with each other than I have ever been with anyone else in my life.

    Being real is worth it, but it’s so hard. A daily struggle for me.

  • http://charinabrooks.wordpress.com Charina

    Being real in the eyes of Him that really wants to know…

  • Lisa H

    Being real, authentic, was something I just couldn’t do. Everything was ‘fine’ and served up with a smile. Inside I was crying, screaming for someone to break me out of the prison I had myself in. God made a crack in those walls and one day I just simply wrote out a prayer request to pray for me I had issues. Its a good thing I didn’t know what happened to those pieces of paper next! God sent a wonderful woman my way telling me she would pray for me and should I ever want to talk, she was available. Panic stricken that someone actually called me I emailed her and thanked her but didn’t know when or if I would talk because I don’t like people to know my business but thanks for praying. 2-3 months later I emailed her. Yes, I initiated meeting with her and when we met she said it was up to me to discuss whatever I wanted. It really wasn’t because God was sitting there with us and he opened up the spillway and I told her my life story over the next hour or so. She didn’t run away either. She hugged me and asked if we could meet again to talk some more. That was over 4 years ago! She is my most trusted, genuine friend. She is my counselor, teacher, prayer partner, sister and girlfriend all rolled up into a neat little package. She has helped me to reach outside of my own protective walls to find other friends and there are a few who know me well now but not like she does. I’ve worked through a lot of issues over the past 4 years and she has walked beside me the whole way. I’ve realized that no one was holding me inside my prison but myself and I had to open the door because I had it locked from the inside. I opened the door and stepped out and although I play in the yard behind the fence still, I will open the gate and let others in and sometimes I take a stroll down the walk outside the fence. I will go back inside the yard from time to time but haven’t been inside my prison in a long time. She is always there to help me see when I am getting painfully close to that door again. She tells me that its okay if I play outside that door, in the yard to catch my breath or get my footing but I can’t stay in there all the time. If I stay too long that is when I try to sneak inside again and hide away from people. Funny how we know that places, people, circumstances are not good for us but we still migrage towards them because they are the ‘comfort zones’. Its hard to break free from old habits butits doable and its worth it to finally be real and let down the mask of ‘I’m fine’ when really I’m not.

    Lisa

    • http://www.chattingatthesky.com emily freeman

      Thankful for those friends who don’t give up! And yes, your picture of the door being locked from the inside – so true.

  • http://geeden.blogspot.com Eden

    Wow! Wonderful post here. All I know is that Yes- I have to have the smile and the I’m fine for the general viewing….but if I don’t have a few people I can be totally open and honest with then I’M MISSING OUT! It is also very interesting to grow in our relationships, to start small with a bit of honesty. I want to be careful and not come off as a complainer but there are certain struggles that seem to be inherent for me. That if I shared them then burden would be lifted. I’m a good listener so I feel like I’m always the one that hears others troubles and out of pride sometimes I don’t share my own. But is that really fair? I need to allow others the opportunity to be there for me as well! People can be so good, if we let them!

  • http://www.findtimefortea.com Kimberly

    Planned communities kind of freak me out. They’re a little too perfect. I much prefer the organic, natural growth of a community over time. It takes time for things to mature and become beautiful. I look at authenticity in the same way. It takes time and growth and maturity to become the real thing in front of others. I try not to let my life look a little too ‘finished’. Because this side of heaven, it won’t be.

    • http://www.chattingatthesky.com emily freeman

      Me too, Kimberly. It was the weirdest thing to be there in January – a place most people come for the summer. I hear it’s really packed in summer. But when we were there it was just lined up, empty, eery, blue-skied perfection.

  • Susan

    Yes it is still hard to practice or be authentic with anyone other than my husband and God. I find most people don’t really want me to be authentic. They want the generic I’m fine. It’s as if they don’t want to know otherwise so they don’t have to listen, pray, or do anything. Being authentic messes up their world. For example, if someone asks how I am doing and I say I am in a lot of pain today, the response is often, “well you look good anyway” or “I’m sorry” and they walk away. Or, they take it as an opportunity to tell me all about their problem(s) or someone they know, play doctor, or change the subject to something they are more comfortable with.

    • http://www.chattingatthesky.com emily freeman

      We are all a bit of a mess, aren’t we? We want to connect but we don’t know how – don’t know how to share it or receive it. What a needy lot we are.

    • http://www.murmursofmyheart.wordpress.com Kristen

      I’m sorry Susan, that others cannot handle your authenticity. I pray that God would provide people who will listen, really listen, and care. xo

    • Vicki

      Praying for you Susan. Thank you for being honest. I too feel this way a lot. I struggle with depression and people don’t really want to know that I’m feeling down. So I smile and ask how they are doing. And I listen and I wish I had a friend like me who would love me and want to be with me through it all. Praying for God to bring you a “kindred spirit” friend.

      • http://www.murmursofmyheart.wordpress.com Kristen

        How I pray this for you as well Vicki! A “kindred spirit” friend to love you unconditionally… Blessings.

    • http://www.truthinweakness.blogspot.com tanya@truthinweakness

      oh susan, i know that “well you look good, anyway” response & people-attempting-to-play-doctor stuff far more than i care to. i have been recovering from a major health crisis that has been at least as much of a spiritual journey as it has been a physical one. likely far more. a wonderful, but very painful dying-to-self journey. and most days, i look completely well on the outside — even on my physically hardest of days.

      so i want to applaud you for having the courage to be vulnerable enough to say that you’re in a lot of pain. sadly, that IS uncomfortable for many — because we have become a people who neglect pain. our own, and others’. we’re taught that we are strong, and therefore, un-hurtable, unbreakable. when in reality, we are fragile. we are weak. we are needy. and strength is only found when we humble ourselves by admitting our weaknesses. and when we bring these fragile hearts & hurts to our Father, He joyfully supplies a supernatural portion of healing and strength. and an abundance of compassion and grace for every step of the journey.

      thank you for your courage to be honest here in this community as well.
      blessings to you, susan.

  • http://www.murmursofmyheart.wordpress.com Kristen

    I love authenticity.

    A few years ago when I was in the depths of depression, I could only answer “fine” with the fake, plastered-on smile when people asked how I was. But inside I was screaming “If only you knew!!! If only you knew how much pain I am in!” I was afraid that others would be too scared of the depth of my angst. It seemed overwhelming. It was in a context of a small group when the question was asked, “How are you *really* doing?” I was tearing up immediately, and couldn’t hold in my emotions. All of a sudden my walls burst and I shared a bit of what I was feeling inside. Several people there had all dealt with depression before and encouraged me to seek help. That was the beginning of my journey into wellness.

    I am now able to live more authentically. I find that being vulnerable myself enables others to be vulnerable too, and to share how they are struggling. Everyone we meet is struggling with something, even if they answer “fine”.

    I wrote a blog about this back in the fall: http://murmursofmyheart.wordpress.com/2011/09/13/the-real/

    • http://www.chattingatthesky.com emily freeman

      I agree with you, Kristen. We are always fearful about sharing the truth of things, but what happens when we do is often what you described – it serves as a mirror for others to see themselves more honestly. That’s been my experience, anyway.

    • http://hikingtowardhome.com/ Sharon @ Hiking Toward Home

      Kristen,
      I left a response below for you.
      And I agree with you on your post “The Real”.
      Hugs,
      Sharon @ Hiking Toward Home

    • Vicki

      Susan, I think we need to subscribe to Kristen’s blog!

  • http://www.triplebraidedlife.com Brenda

    My authenticity depends on who I’m around. Some people I want to accept me so badly, especially who I consider the “good girls” who in my mind have and always have had perfect lives. So I hide some stuff and in my mind go through a list proving to myself that I’m a good girl, too. And then other people, who I think I’m a “better good girl than” I share more. I think because I want them to know I’m real too. I know that’s awful thinking in terms of better and worse, but that’s me being authentic. I know there is no such thing and truth is in Christ we are all perfect and perfected – loved perfectly. That’s what I struggle with in terms of authenticity. It’s exhausting. :-)

  • http://www.kellysauer.com/ Kelly Sauer

    It is so hard to practice, because everybody is trying to be “authentic,” and it’s become a new front for us to wear now. I am more real than most, and yet I still can’t tap my own vulnerability at times. It’s not about being “authentic” so much as it must be about simply BEING. Unselfconscious. Abandoned. Like a child.

  • Becky

    Yes, I still struggle with authenticity. I honestly don’t know what would make it easier. I am surrounded by loving people who truly care and would be happy to listen. A few have even asked if it were the truth when I responded with my utterly perfect “fine”. When they request the truth, I want to scream out the line from one of my husband’s action movies, “The truth? YOU. CAN’T. HANDLE. THE. TRUTH!!!” …but I don’t. I think it is because I have been so carefully trained since birth in the fine art of being a “good girl”. By the way, upon reading the book I discovered that I have been trained to be a good girl by a good girl(my mother) who had been trained to be so by another good good(her mother). I have also found that breaking free from a carefully trained way of living is much more difficult than tearing down the walls of lies I built myself. It feels as if I am being disloyal to those I love, even though I know they too need to be free. But HALLELUJAH! progress is being made every day, and even though I still struggle, I’m more real than before. And I’m loving it! It is almost addictive.

  • Kathy

    I struggle with being authentic. I wear the smile and tell people I am fine, I am afraid if I told the truth that they would think I was crazy. I want to tell someone that I am struggling: with anxiety and panic attacks, my marriage,issues with my daughter and financial difficulties. I just want someone to cry with me and pray for me.

    • Gina

      aww…me too…i’ll pray for you and you pray for me for all the same issue’s as you except not daughter for me but son. I know its all hard and very lonely…

      • Kathy

        Praying for you Gina! Thanks for your prayers!

    • http://familyfaithcompanion.org Carol H.

      Kathy: I understand your fear. (But people will think I’m crazy!) Please know that I am praying for a sweet sister who will be able to wrap her arms around you and cry and pray with you. <>

      • http://www.murmursofmyheart.wordpress.com Kristen

        Oh Kathy! Please tell someone of your struggles – they are too large to bear on your own! (Even anyone professional you could go see, perhaps? )

        My heart weeps when I see how much you are carrying…

      • Kathy

        Thanks!

  • http://www.littleredpurse.blogspot.com Leah

    I am turning 25 in a few short months, and also getting married in April. I have been searching my heart to build long and lasting relationships to follow me through the rest of my life. There’s no room for fake smiles and shallow conversation in my life anymore. I truly want my relationships to reflect my love for God and to shine through in those I love. Thank you for this great post, it’s hard to be real in this world.

  • http://www.littleredpurse.blogspot.com Leah

    @Kathy You can be assured of my prayers. I pray that God will provide a loving spirit to cry and eventually laugh with you.

  • http://onceuponagrainofsand.wordpress.com Carissa

    When you said this back at chattingatthesky, it resonated with me : “I don’t believe we have to be honest and tell everyone how we are doing, the intimate details of the state of our hearts. But might we dare to be honest before God, to trust that he is wise enough and loving enough and intuitive enough to usher us into being vulnerable with certain people?”

    I struggle most with this part. With knowing how much to say and who to say it to. There are only very few people who know me very well (yet not fully, and mostly just my husband), and I think a lot of it has to do with my internal struggle of “do they want to know? If so, how much? And how much SHOULD I share {and will I still be safe afterward}?”

    • http://www.chattingatthesky.com emily freeman

      Oh, you ask good questions, Carissa. Obviously I’m kind of answerless. But you raise the issue of safety, and I am on a journey of re-defining safety and what it looks like. A lot of that redefinition has to do with letting go of my right to protect myself and trusting that job into the hands of God. That doesn’t mean I share and blab to all – in fact I have found him encouraging me in quietness more often than before. But that idea of safety has been rolling around in my head a lot. Glad you brought that up.

      • http://www.euecker.blogspot.com Elizabeth

        Emily, will you write a post on the issue of safety? I struggle SO MUCH with that….

      • http://onceuponagrainofsand.wordpress.com Carissa

        Oh, sigh. That safety thing. I only just discovered a few days ago that my “fighting style” has everything to do with protecting myself, keeping myself safe… my “sharing style” has the same internal goal. It is nice to know I’m not the only one wrestling with that! God is Protector. I don’t remember that (especially in the moments) nearly often enough…

  • http://www.farfromflawlesslife.blogspot.com Missy June

    I struggle to be authentic when I do not feel safe, when expectations are not reality or when I feel someone has an agenda they need me to fill.

    I’m so much better at this after years of literally shutting down to be what I thought I was supposed to be. It’s been a journey that will continue throughout my lifetime, I’m sure.

  • Melissa

    I am looking forward to reading your book someday. I have had these struggles throughout my life as well. Now at 45 I have finally begin working through them and allowing God to heal me. I believe that one of the biggest problems for me with authenticity is refusing to accept all that I am myself. I often judge myself for not being perfect and if I can not accept certain aspects of who I am then how am I to be honest with others about it. I have to constantly have to evaluate my expectations of myself when I sense that I am being critical of myself. Through counseling and the word of God I am extending to myself the grace of God. None of us are acceptable without it. God loves us just the way are. When we are better of extending God’s grace to those parts of us that need healing and God’s redemptive power, we feel more free to share those parts with others.

  • http://hikingtowardhome.com/ Sharon @ Hiking Toward Home

    In response to Kristen from above:
    “A few years ago when I was in the depths of depression, I could only answer “fine” with the fake, plastered-on smile when people asked how I was. But inside I was screaming “If only you knew!!! If only you knew how much pain I am in!”” ~Kristen from above.
    Yes. I’ve been there in the last year. But I didn’t withhold because of being afraid it would scare them but because I had sat in Sunday School with them and listened to them judge and shred people they knew that suffered with depression. (Yes, it was an extremely dysfunctional unloving church that had no interest in changing their ways. I praise God he released us from it.)
    In the past there were two times I was so low and chose to reach out, was honest about being bombarded by the enemy with suicidal thoughts that I was having a hard time fending off. (knowing suicide is NOT the answer EVER.)
    The first time the response was a LONG email tearing me up one side and down the other for being “selfish” and unspiritual, a bad missionary, you name it , it was hurled at me in a vicious attack, from someone that claimed me as their best friend.
    The second time was in that dysfunctional church. Last year, as a pastor’s wife, I opened up to someone I thought could be trusted, her having been a pastor’s wife, and was met with sugary sweet “oh honey I feel so sorry for you” and then she promptly led the charge to run my husband out of the pastorate. Um, yeah. Thankfully he chose to resign not wanting to keep our family in such a venomous environment.
    The third time was a much better situation. I was met with support, prayer, friendship and encouragement. The third person has walked through this with me, has helped me get to the other side and continues to walk with me with no judgement.
    Thankfully the Lord has brought me to a place where it is in the past.
    Emily’s writing on her blog and in her book has helped me to learn to extend grace to myself and stop trying to fit in someone else’s mold to be “accepted”.
    There is a great book that was sent to me by a friend I met at Relevant, LaDonna of “Santa Beso” (found here: http://www.santabeso.com/ ) She sent me a book called “Friendships ~Avoiding the ones that hurt, Finding the ones that Heal” by her pastor Jeff Wickwire. What a tremendous blessing it has been to help me see the reality of what I thought were “good friendships” that really weren’t.
    I’m thankful that God is slowly leading me into new friendships with women who fit in Jeff’s excellent evaluation of a ‘good’ friend:
    “Best Friends pull one another out of the ditch of failure without the slightest raised eyebrow, judgment, or rejection.”

    • http://hikingtowardhome.com/ Sharon @ Hiking Toward Home

      sorry for the epic. didn’t realize it was that long.

      • http://www.murmursofmyheart.wordpress.com Kristen

        Sharon – so sorry that you didn’t find support the first few times that you shared! I don’t know what I would have done if I had been treated that way… if I had not been amongst people who knew about depression and realized that it should be treated. (Although I must admit that one of my closest friends, and my dh were my most reluctant supporters.) I also have a few posts on my blog about my journey through depression if you are interested. I’m so glad that God is bringing people into your life who are supportive in your journey. Blessings!

    • http://www.santabeso.com La Donna

      Sharon- I’m so glad and thankful to the Lord that we did not passively meet, but had a “real” sit down conversation. Sometimes when we’re in the ditch we don’t even have the strength to look up to see who is at the top reaching for us. The Lord has been looking at you and placed the right tool to help you believe there are people who are there reaching out for you. YOU are so important to Him, and so very loved by Him. Very big and long hugs to you!

  • http://www.queenieslittlekingdom.com wanda

    I suffer from being too transparent. No kidding. I catch myself sharing more than necessary and often feel like a real loser for being so open. What you see is the real me. It might sound ok but not everyone can handle knowing my life isn’t perfect. People judge believe it of not. :)

    • Ting

      Wanda, I am the same way. I share too much of my life, and often times, I think that I am the problem, when in fact the other person doesn’t want to hear my story. I pray that God will lead more loving, listening people your way. Don’t worry – trust in Him!

      You were fearfully and wonderfully made- Psalm 139:14

  • Laura

    With the arrival of Facebook and text messaging, I’ve lost more friends….it’s made it so much easier for everyone to hide and respond to a phone call with a text message smiley face or the answer to the question left on their voice mail. I’ve heard countless people, women especially, say how little time they have for others because they’re just so busy or how they hate talking on the phone, how they like Facebook because it lets them keep up with how other people are doing without actually having to interact with them. I’ve gone from being an “honest” kind of friend to an “I’m fine, how are you?” kind of friend because it seems that’s what people really want. I also find that women are really good at distracting others from real conversation by making it seem as if they are very interested in the lives of others, asking non-stop questions about the other person and changing the topic if the person has a chance to try to ask how they might be doing. You either answer with the flat out lies of “fine” or you tell the truth and end up being the needy one in a very one-sided relationship because you’re the only one being vulnerable. I have not found that if you stand out, be brave and tell the truth about yourself that others will too. I’ve found that it gives others plenty of room to keep the conversation being about anything but themselves because now they can just talk about you and your vulnerability until it’s time to excuse themselves. It’s weird though because it wasn’t like this before I was married. The friends I had before I got married were all very honest with each other and we all get married and suddenly everyone seems to have hidden themselves inside their homes and plastered smiles on their faces. I think it’s because when we’re younger and single, we’re pretty sure no one expects us to have it all together. Marriage or other adulthood type lifestyles (motherhood, big careers, leadership positions inside the church, etc) somehow puts us in this mindset that we’re suddenly to have everything figured out, under control and looking good, Christian, happy, whatever. When that isn’t the truth (which for most of us in one area of our lives or another simply isn’t) everyone runs and hides and puts on the face they think others want to see. Being honest has only made me feel more alone and left me digging through the trunk for as many masks as I can find.

    • http://www.chattingatthesky.com emily freeman

      I think you’ve really made some great points here, Laura. When you say women are really good at distracting others from real conversation by asking good questions and deflecting the attention – I can totally see that. I’ve done that, I admit.

      I don’t think it’s always that we don’t want to be real with each other so we deflect. Sometimes it’s just that we think others issues are more important than ours so we refuse to open up. It’s not a good way to be, but it’s all part of the mess.

      A lot of it, for me, comes down to the root of why I’m being honest in the first place. is it to get something from someone else? To prove something to myself or them? To try to get some need met? It’s an interesting conversation and one I don’t think we can have without facing those deep issues of what we believe about God and where we believe he wants to show up for us, in us, through us.

      Love those points you make about Facebook/texting. Interesting to think about how these things affect our daily relationships. Good thoughts, Laura.

    • Anonymous

      What you say about facebook is very real Laura, it may be a good way to see posts on what old friends and co-workers are up to but the real friendships are the ones where you see something, some need, some (fb) comment and you pick up the phone and say, “Hi, do you need anything… can I come over… would you like to talk?…”, etc. Plus(!!!), you’re right, honesty is very vulnerable, scarey! I like that fb allows me to see what people in my life are up to and make congratulations (new baby, new home, etc.) or see what family too far away to visit very often are up to but the best relationships are the ones where we can hug and smile and cry together, be loving and have some fun. I think with motherhood and life we just get really busy and we need to make time to put our health and our relationships into a top priority so we can be good to ourselves and able to reach out. I hate masks also, we are all just who we are wanting to be loved and to love. When I find a mask I throw it out…. garbage and not transparent/authentic.

      • http://facebook Liz Gauthier

        Oops, that was me above being authentic and clicking submit before I filled in my identity, a bit funny, don’t you think, since we are discussing being honest? (lol)

    • http://www.santabeso.com La Donna

      This comment is the one that I’m saying- Yes YES!!! while reading. After I got married I felt more alone that I ever did my entire life when it came to friends. Everything in my life was new, and I wanted familiar so bad. I just wanted to have a good hearty laugh and a very real cry, and the conversation to go on late in the night if needed. And you just can’t do that on facebook, twitter or texting. They are great for the social but not for the moments when you REALLY need to be heard. What I am finding to be the foolishness that is confusing the wise is how God is amazingly using the world of blogging to get the nitty gritty conversations going. Like the one that’s going on here. Thank you for your thoughts Laura!

  • http://www.whispersinthesilence.blogspot.com andrea

    Your words really resonated with me – another theme God keeps bringing up in my life. I find it easier to be “authentic” when I write – maybe it’s because it’s a one-way communication and I can share the hurts of my heart without being looked in the eye. Or maybe it’s because I feel more coherent when I write. But regardless, there is a fear I hold in letting someone into my hurts when I’m face to face…and I ‘m not sure why. I think it would make it easier to practice authenticity if, in our culture, “fine” wasn’t the expected answer to the “how are you doing?”

  • http://that-good-part.blogspot.com Kristy

    As a fairly new pastor’s wife I am finding that people want/need ‘real’ more than ‘perfect.’ We need to be who we are, show our struggles and our trials, show our weaknesses, and yet continually be striving to be the best we can be for God, with God’s help. The truth is we are all a work in progress. If we would always remember that and show each other more love, forgiveness and grace it would be easier to be authentic and honest before all.

  • Beth WIlliams

    At times it is hard for me to be authentic. I tend to be somewhat shy at first, but when I get to know you well–I can open up about almost anything.

    I do so because I want others to open up to me so I can try & encourage them through trials and tribulations. Talk to me & be “real” with me–don’t fake it! I love sending encouraging notes to people & showing them God’s love!

  • Lindsay

    I’m smack dab in the middle of reading grace for the good girl. I find myself laughing out loud that there could possible be another woman quite as neurotic as myself. Chapter 4 has been my favorite so far. I can do FINE like a pro! Very few people really know me and I struggle with the isolation it creates. I don’t want to air my dirty laundry but how do I find support and friendship when I keep EVERYONE at arms length?!?! Working on it daily, praying, and reaching when I can. Love the encouragement I find here, on Emily’s blog & book, and also the fantastic Ann Voskamp. It is women like these that are so daring to open themselves up to the entire world that give me strength. Thank You!

  • http://everydayawe.com Stephanie Spencer

    Yes. It is still a struggle. What makes it easier? Remembering.

    Remembering the healing God has brought to my life in this area. Remembering how when I have been authentic in the past, others have brought healing and hope. Remembering how my identity is rooted in God, so even if others break my trust, he never will.

    Remembering that God called me to love. And loving means caring for others for who they really are, and letting them love me for who I really am.

    Thank you for your powerful imagery in this post. I always found Truman Show to be haunting.

    (I wrote about authenticity for Good Women Project last week. As I remembered how God has changed me, I thought about whether I am still living as a changed person now. http://goodwomenproject.com/emotions/learning-to-let-go-of-my-emotional-suitcase. Perhaps writing about authenticity is the reminder of how much there really is left of it to explore.)

  • http://grace-to-be.xanga.com/ amber

    one of my favorite Beth Moore quotes is:: “people aren’t looking for you to have it all together, they’re looking to see what you do when you don’t.”

    for me though, there’s certain parts i’m more okay with others knowing i don’t have all together. i mean, to admit i feed my kids kraft dinner and don’t always enforce them brushing their teeth, is one thing.

    but this past year as we walked through the hardest time ever in our marriage i felt completely frozen up to open my mouth and let others know.

    i felt like a such a failure and my pride convinced me i could manage on my own. fix it. make it all better.

    but God hasn’t designed us to go at this life alone! WE NEED EACH OTHER. and it wasn’t until i finally shared to a small group of girlfriends, with basically nothing more than a choked up , “pray for me…” that i began to see things change.

    not that there was a magic 1-2-3 poof! and my marriage was all better. but suddenly i had a renewed strength to keep on. a new accountability. and “new voices” cheering for my husband and i to make it!

    sometimes, when we’re too weak to do it on our own, we need others to grab hold of HOPE for us!! pulling it down to our level. reminding us IT’S STILL THERE.

    there’s such power in community. and satan knows it, and keeps us silent with fearing rejection. “i’m the only one. no one else gets it.”

    but we’re not alone. and oh boy, are there others who get it! though sometimes in order for us to know that.. we have to take the risk of opening up.

    and “opening up” isn’t always having to air every last piece of dirty laundry. maybe folks don’t need to know about that hot pink polka dotted pair we have! ;) but being real can sometimes just be something as simple as “pray for me.” or, “having a tough time here.” just raising that timid hand and letting other know, yep.. don’t have it all together over here.

    there’s so much FREEDOM in honesty.

    thanks emily. for once again sharing so graciously from your life and causing the rest of us to take a chance on doing the same~

  • Michelle

    I feel embarrassed about the times I have erred on the side of being too intimate. Funny how putting my foot in my mouth does not slow down the talking. I have learned however that I can bite my tongue and still be authentic. I’m struggling with blogging, though.

  • http://christinamariehernandez.wordpress.com/ Christina Hernandez

    This really touched my heart Emily. Thank you for opening up the conversation about this issue of shame, like Brene Brown (as noted in the post on your site) and others have.

  • http://www.you-leave-me-breadless.blogspot.com annemarie (@YLMBreadless)

    The only place I am myself ,no holds barred, is my blog. I try so hard to be the real me with everyone, but I find myself questioning how much of me is too much

  • http://familyfaithcompanion.org Carol H.

    I’m doing the “A Confident Heart” study with Renee Swope. The chapter just recently covered was about how we say we are “Fine.” Someone suggested in response to “how are you” we should say “hopeful.” I have tried to do this but somehow I can’t break myself out of the habit of saying “I’m fine”!! It just comes out so automatically.

  • http://makingajoyfulhome.blogspot.com Amy

    So true. I used to think that I had to show a perfect face to the world, but I’ve learned that the people I am most real with and who are most real with me, are the dearest. It’s that vulnerable reality that gives good depth to friendships. I just wish it didn’t take so long to learn to appreciate that!

  • http://lifebynic.blogspot.com/ Nichole H

    I’m really struggling with this topic today. Being known. I find that I go into ‘filter’ mode. I don’t share what I’m doing if it’s not all inclusive for fear of excluding someone who may or may not have wanted to be included in the first place. I scrub details because…what if they won’t approve? Less information is best. Too much information….the raw truth….leaves one wide open for judgement. I filter and then feel hollow because I’m not truly known. Ugh. Thanks for posting this today. Time to take a drive with Jesus…

  • http://www.arock4him.blogspot.com Amy Hunt

    Keep the real you coming, Emily! It’s through your sharing {your hesitancy and imperfect ability to trust} that He is most glorified. You know this. Yet, I know it’s hard to press on. It’s hard for me, too. And no, we’ve not exhausted it. The day we turn our backs and say we’ve said enough is the day when we are steam rolled all over again. Keeping it real gives Him room to move.

    I adore your courage. It’s such beautiful worship.

  • http://salaknlemonlade.blogspot.com Mrs.B

    Is there anyone who doesn’t struggle with this? If so, I want to meet them. Brave, Awesome woman, whomever she may be….

    For me, it’s like you said…just easier.

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  • http://www.jodeneshaw.blogspot.com Jodene Shaw

    Yes. Still hard. More and more learning to be authentic in different areas of my life where I felt trapped, like I had no choice, but breaking thru and allowing myself to make different choices, more authentic to me. But then, new areas come up where authenticity is H.A.R.D. What about when my authenticity isn’t “nice”? Working thru this moment by ever-loving moment here. This topic is not exhausted! We are all on a journey and some of us (me) are still working thru it . . . and perhaps always will be.

    • http://www.murmursofmyheart.wordpress.com Kristen

      Yes, Jodene, some of us are still working through it. It is definitely not a “ok, now I am authentic” kinda deal. I encourage you to continue making choices that allow you to be more of who *you* are. Sometimes I think that authenticity to yourself means making different boundaries with others which can be upsetting to them (“not nice”). Just bring each decision to Jesus, talk to Him about it and ask Him to show you how to be authentic (loving yourself) while loving others. His voice is the only one that matters in the end. Love, love, love. That is Jesus.

  • http://www.be-lovedfriend.blogspot.co.uk Amy

    Thank you for this post. It is encouraging to know I am not alone. It is often so easy to hide behind a fake smile and a “fine.” I went through a difficult patch a few years ago and during the time of getting over the worst of it, I wrote this poem, called the lost smile.

    I have lost my smile.
    It has been missing for some time now
    “Where was the last place you had it?” helpful friends ask when you lose something precious
    I don’t know the last time I had it
    I think I lost it when the sun started to hide behind the thick winter clouds.

    The “mask smile” has taken over.
    This smile only smiles in the mouth
    My smile used to begin with the mouth but manage to stretch all the way up to and through my eyes
    My eyes used to smile
    My smile was genuine
    The mask smile has invaded like a disease.
    It is unwelcome and strong.
    Slowly but surely, it creeps in, without notice until it is too late and it takes control.

    The mask smile has started speaking for the mouth
    It answers the “how are you?” questions with an “I’m fine thank you” when all the time, underneath my mouth is crying out, “help me”
    The cries go unheard, not for want of trying mind you.

    This disease of “mask smile” has spread to my ears.
    It blocks out all ability to hear, accept and appreciate any positive comment.
    A friend utters an encouragement, praise or a mere “thank you” and this is blocked. It is unheard. It is not processed. It is turned around and met with a “no thank you, not today, no positive comments welcome here today”

    Once the mouth is taken over, and the ears are blocked, the “mask smile” burrows into the mind.
    Not only are positive comments unheard and not processed, they are opposed. The mind only hears negatives, sufferings and lies.
    These lies are subtle and therefore go un-noticed until they grow.
    The mind is hearing “you are not good enough”, “you are unloved” and “you must do better.”
    These criticisms bombard the mind and slowly poison the body, sapping all life and energy from it.

    So what is left?
    This is the month of “love” which should surely mean joy and happiness!?
    I know love is more than hearts, teddies, cards and chocolates.
    True love is nail pierced hands, a crown of thorns and crucifixion
    This is not sweet love that is shown through a nice meal, roses and kisses
    But this is love; the one who loves me, died for me.

    This love died for me, the sky turned black but it didn’t stay that way.
    Love was re-born, the sun rose and there was light.
    The sun will come again, the “mask smile” will no longer rule this body but true love will burn it away

    The sun is slowly burning through the winter clouds
    The sun is slowly wiping away the “mask smile”
    My ears are slowly opening, my mind being freed and my body re-filling with energy.
    My smile is gradually beginning to shine through my eyes again

    “Let your light shine before men that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven “ Matthew 5 v 16

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