This grace was given to me—the least of all the saints—to proclaim to the Gentiles the incalculable riches of the Messiah, and to shed light for all about the administration of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things. (Ephesians 3:8-9)
What do you want people to think about you?
Do you struggle with withholding too much information or sharing too much?
When you think of “authenticity,” what words come to mind?
Many displays have lights that highlight them—museum displays or outdoor parks and monuments. The goal is to highlight them, but the light never completely reveals everything. In fact, the lights often create glares, shadows, or distorted proportions. When the focus of the light has more than one dimension, the perspective of the light affects the perspective of the person looking at the display. The light is intended to illuminate the object, but it ends up presenting it in a less-than-authentic way. Do you ever do the same with your life?
We sometimes try to highlight what we most want people to see. We don’t mind if other aspects get downplayed or ignored, because we don’t really like some of those aspects of ourselves and our lives. Besides, we can’t be an open book to everyone, right? Of course, we can’t share everything with everyone, but what we share with people needs to be truthful and authentic. Everyone in our lives, even those who know us best, will only see pieces of who we are. Those who know us best don’t know everything about us, and if they did, because we’re always changing, they would have to constantly get to know us, over and over. Even we don’t know ourselves completely. Only God does.
When I answered, “Fine,” to the standard “How are you?” question one morning, I thought, “Why am I lying?” It’s not that anything was terrible, but I was grumpy. The woman who had asked me struggled with depression, and I often encouraged her. I guess I didn’t want to vent to her, of all people. But I asked her to ask me again. Confused, she did. When I told her I was actually kind of grumpy and briefly summarized why, her frown turned into a smile. I was puzzled and asked her what was so funny. She replied, “I just didn’t realize you’re like me!” I chuckled. Yes. When we’re authentic with each other, we find we have more in common than we thought, and we can encourage each other along the way. Let God’s light shine on and through you. At least He knows what to highlight when and to whom.
Grab a flashlight, turn it on, and hold it against your skin just under your chin. Look in the mirror. How does it distort your image? Commit to letting God highlight you as He created you to be instead of trying to decide what features to highlight and downplay.