Living life authentically doesn’t happen until you acknowledge the inauthentic; and recognizing the inauthentic is a process, an unveiling. Even if you wanted to hurry it along, you couldn’t. It unfolds as life unfolds at a pace only sovereignty himself can set. No one is born purposefully shrouding themselves with ideals and expectations. They just happen as life is lived. We pick up pieces of how people respond to us, how we perceive ourselves and the world around us, and place them atop—one layer at a time. Just like a garment. Some pieces are thin like undergarments, and we wear them with ease. Others are heavy and cumbersome—itchy wool that sets our skin on edge. Either way, the clothing becomes familiar, and it blends in with who we are. IT becomes synonymous with US, with no distinction between the two. Often, it is not until we attempt to stretch and grow that we even recognize our confinement. Arms seeking to extend out farther become pulled down by tattered and shrunken fabrics. They reach no higher than the height of the chest, when truly, we long for them to be reaching for the sun. When fabric begins to pull and tear, it is painful. The instinct is to hold on to any withered thread our terrified fingers can grasp. We attempt to keep clothed in the familiar. We shy away from nakedness. We fear exposure. But only in becoming unclothed can we then prepare to be reclothed in garments that are tailored specifically for us. Ones that move, breathe, and allow for arms to thrust up to the sky. When nudity becomes inevitable and exposure causes you to become unrecognizable to yourself, it is important to remind yourself of some basic truths. I am finding the following to be helpful as my own wardrobe is pulling at the seams:
- Be willing to be honest with yourself. Exposing yourself to the light of what is can be frightening, but only in this place of illumination can we see things for what they really are.
- Allow the junk to be unpacked. When someone walks into a closet and turns on the light, what was hidden in the corners is now visible to the naked eye. Those past hurts that you packed tight in that tattered and tired old box are now busting at the seams. Open it up and take a look. Pretending it is not there isn’t serving you, but hindering you. Acknowledging your past and processing what comes up is the only way to give it a proper burial. This is not about blaming, but understanding.
- Keep moving forward. Once the past is properly processed…MOVE ON! No benefit comes from constant glances back into the past. The future begins here and now with each choice and small step you take. This present moment unfolds into the next, and the next, and the next. One single moment at a time. Begin living where you are right now. As you do, the future will begin to pave itself naturally.
- Get down to the bare bones of your core beliefs. When everything else is peeled away, what do you really believe? This is the place that you draw all other beliefs and perceptions from. It impacts everything you think, see, and do. It is the place you land when everything moves from underneath your feet. For me, I needed to take it down to its simplest form. I knew that above everything else, I believe in the God who created all things. I believe He loves me so much that He sent His son, Jesus, to live that love out loud and die for me. I know that I am precious, loved, and accepted. Any details besides those, don’t matter at the moment.
- Accept yourself– JUST AS YOU ARE, flaws intact and all. Without peace with yourself, everything else will totter. Make peace with who you are and what you believe. Give yourself room to grow, but love yourself right where you are at. Don’t wait until you are everything you THINK you need to be, the place where you deem yourself worthy enough. God loved you before you were “perfect”, give yourself the same grace.
- Forgive others. Just as you need to accept yourself flaws and all, you have to leave yourself open to forgive those who have hurt you or let you down. They are growing as well. They too are struggling to peel off layers of an improperly sized wardrobe. Just as you receive grace, extend grace.
- Be willing to fail and not let it destroy you. Remember that you are still growing, constantly. As you move forward, you will make more mistakes. Don’t allow missing the mark or setbacks to define you. Use them as springboards to launch you closer to where you want to go. Always fall forward.
- Don’t allow fear to hinder your growth. Growth is painful, and sometimes you have to dig up where you have already planted and start again. Change can be scary, but scarier still is remaining stunted and not growing at all.
- Breathe. Slowly. Often
As your layers peel down and your wardrobe shrinks, please feel free to share what you are learning through your journey. I would love to hear your thoughts .