Authenticity In Real Life

Armed with some clarity on the who I am (child of God and follower of Jesus Christ), where I come from (created by God), and finally why I am here (nurture and help others), it becomes a little easier to sort through the visual mess in order to find things that are truly me. I no longer feel the need to create a persona, personal style or identity because that was given to me upon conception – when God formed me in my mother’s womb. Oh, certainly life experiences and changing times will influence some of my taste and activities; who I am never changes. God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow, and as His creation, so am I.

I’m just an old soul in a modern body.

It is impossible to look at oneself and truly understand how we are viewed by the world. I certainly have one perception of myself and find that it in no way matches up with what others see.

One of the things I have come to learn, is that I am an old soul. From a very young age I felt more comfortable with adults – much older adults – than I did with most kids my age. My circle of friends, while not large, was very close. There were five of us: a Cheryl with a C, Sheryl with an S, 2 Ednas and 1 Kay. Junior high was our time. Four of the five were in band together and Kay became the politician. She was a successful student council member, possibly president, I can’t remember. We all still live in Texas, and how fun would it be to have a junior high school reunion? But, of course, I digress. Back to my old soul.

I have fond memories of junior high school. I don’t remember caring or agonizing over what other kids thought of me. I probably did, but I don’t recall worrying about looking or acting like someone else. I wanted to be liked and accepted, but I didn’t try to change to fit in. At the end of sixth grade, as we all prepared for the big world of junior high, we got to pick electives. Without hesitation, I chose band. The shape of my mouth determined that I would play the flute. My mom told me she didn’t mind paying for the flute but I had to follow through and play it. And play it I did. For the first time I discovered the rewards of devoting myself to an activity to the point of excellence. For three years I was first or second chair flute in the band, and also did quite well in local junior high flute competitions.

I had my tribe – one Edna also played the flute, the other played saxophone and Cheryl played the oboe and the bassoon. To this day the bassoon is one of my favorite woodwind instruments. The band was also where I met my first boyfriend.

Add band to the fact that I had fabulous hair, wasn’t skinny nor fat, was in the Junior Honor Society – I had the world by the tail. I was Alice (Being Alice).

Signs? What signs? Did I miss a sign?

So how did I go from junior high rock star to confused adult? Isn’t it supposed to be the other way around – confused teenager then confident adult? Oh yeah, I don’t do anything like everyone else. Or do I?

I have come to learn that no one has everything figured out; some folks are better at faking it and still others are blessed with figuring some of it out early in life. We are all on individual paths for our unique purpose. In all honesty I never thought very deeply about all of this cosmic stuff for most of my life. But when I did…Katy, bar the door! My propensity for overthinking escaped like fiery breath from a dragon’s mouth.

Thanks to the book series God Winks, I became like a blind hog in a meat market. Everything around me was a God wink. I was chasing so many things that I thought I was supposed to do. Notice all the “I“s in the previous sentence. That’s a sure indicator of a problem. At this time I was living in a “kink in the hose” phase so there wasn’t a lot of God flowing my direction. I was chasing after things that I thought were messages from God. News alert – you won’t recognize God’s subtle messages unless you are close enough to Him to really see and hear. The big whack upside the head kind of messages are the ones generally reserved for when we are really obstinate.

I took a wrong turn at Albuquerque.

Quoting from one of my favorite characters in the world, Bugs Bunny, I thought I had taken a wrong turn in what I was doing. Seems doing was not the problem. That is not where I took the wrong turn.

I remained dry. I had allowed the conduit to my purpose and power to be virtually cut off.

I can look back in hindsight and see that even during the dry periods God used my purpose to accomplish His plans. I didn’t realize He was doing it. I couldn’t see it because I was cut off; therefore, I did not reap any of the blessings of being lined up with God’s purpose, but it didn’t stop Him from working through me.

Isolated from my power source I was on my own. I felt lost, and that is the most frightening place of all. In a world that is filled with so much that is wrong, sick, and just pure evil, I had let go of my life line.

Have you ever felt that alone? It is terrifying, and so very lonely. The good news is that God is not like people. He will not chastise you for not doing something sooner, he is just happy you came to Him at all. That is the unconditional love of the One who created you.

The scenic route is the only way to go.

I am finally discovering that “the who” I am is still the same person. I’m still that nurturing grandma with a crochet hook in her hand. And though I have beat myself up for the wrong turns I thought I had made in life, I now see that I was on God’s scenic highway. No matter the path, God used my “who” to care and help others.

Have you discovered your “who” yet? Don’t stress about it, but pay attention. Be mindful of the things that move you in ways you are unable to explain. Write them down. Keep track of the things and people you are drawn to. Write it down.Spend time in quiet meditation. Learn what the voices of negativity and fear sound like in your head. Once you know them you can work on eliminating them and replacing them with the truth.

Above all unkink that hose to let God’s love and guidance pour in. Never known God like that? It really isn’t hard. He is waiting. Just ask Him. Then look around your life for the believer He has placed in your midst to help you on your journey.

It is a process, and one I don’t think we are supposed to finish on earth. So, go easy on yourself and enjoy the view.

Next week I am going to share my journey towards authenticity as it relates to social media, home, dress, and interpersonal relationships. It will be a fun week. But until tomorrow….

Keep looking up, embrace today, and go have some fun!

Did You Notice?

I didn’t get a post written yesterday. It wasn’t for lack of trying, rather I believe I was trying too hard. Nothing I was writing felt authentic. The stories and the points that I thought I wanted to make were forced, artificial, fake. So I kept them as drafts and decided nothing was better than just anything for the sake of a daily post.

Maybe I was too distracted by the birds and squirrels. I love sitting at my desk looking out and watching the morning antics of our suburban wildlife. I keep my dad’s binoculars handy in case there is something that bears a closer look. I used to think my spirit animal was a sparrow, but I could also be a squirrel. Running around, planting seeds and nuts hoping to remember where I put them. Yeah, that sounds like me.

I’ve been fascinated with birds since childhood. I remember getting books at the library about parakeets. I wanted one so badly but also learned I didn’t want to clean up after them. And besides, birds should fly freely. Isn’t that what God created them to do? If He had meant for them to live in cages for our pleasure, wouldn’t they be flightless? God gave birds a purpose and the means to live out that purpose. If He did that for them, imagine what He will do for us.

Slow And Steady Wins The Race

I have developed a really bad habit. I see something I think I want and I try to go after it. These days it is generally a business idea of some kind. It seems the cool thing to do is be a maker and sell your products to an adoring audience.

But wait. Isn’t that what we are supposed to do? Isn’t that a personal characteristic that is exalted and admired? Goal setting. Diligent hard work. Reap the rewards. Isn’t this the example that is set up for us (this might be uniquely American, I don’t know) as the admirable way of approaching life? I certainly thought so.

My parents did not have fancy educations but they had (my mom still has) this kind of work ethic. Throughout their lives they work hard, do whatever is necessary, and turn natural skills into successful businesses. This is the example set for me and I’ve always admired them for this.

The problem isn’t in the doing it is in the motivation. I celebrate anyone with a gift they honestly share and the money they earn. That isn’t what I was put on earth to do, so by concocting all kinds of business ideas I am chasing someone else’s purpose. That is not an authentic life.

Authenticity vs Pride

If I am being authentic I must look for ways to nurture and help others not merely trying to elevate myself in the eyes of others. True joy comes in the working out of the gifts I’ve been given. The same is true for you.

This morning as I read the Bible and prayed, I was reminded that my job is to walk humbly with God, love others and He will take care of the rest. He will see that all my needs are met and results of my work will all be good. Notice I didn’t say profitable, I said good. I need to take my eyes off money and do my work. Every. Single. Day.

An Authentic Life

Knowing why we are here, by whose hand we were created, and trusting that more than we trust what is visible is the beginning of authenticity. Authenticity is built on truth and God is truth.

Next, God has given each of us a unique set of skills to use in this world. Our job is to stay close enough to Him to know what those are and use them. This not only helps the world go round, it shows God to the world and brings joy to our own hearts.

Once this foundation has been laid the work of building of a life can begin. There will be obstacles galore and we will touch on those in future posts, but for now rest in the love and protection found only with God.

Until tomorrow, keep looking up, embrace today and go find some fun!

Life’s Purpose And Other Mental Wanderings

Remember the ex-NASA engineer who devised an exploding glitter package as revenge on thieves who steal packages from front porches? That is my brain exploding with ideas. I try to protect those I care about from the fall out. I had so much to say yesterday that I had to break it up into two…or maybe more parts. I don’t want to overwhelm you with everything in at once.

Last week I focused on staying connected to God and how that guides our life. One of the best visuals I ever heard uses a garden hose as the example. When we are fully connected to God our life operates like a hose with the water flowing freely; however, when we move away from Him, the flow of the water gets pinched off, the trickle is slower and slower until it ultimately stops all together. We literally dry up inside. He hasn’t moved or changed. We have.

Staying connected isn’t a mystical secret. Ask. Listen. Read the Bible. Live expecting Him to meet you where you are. That’s it! Everything else is built upon this foundation. One of the things that helps me is to isolate myself from the world for a few minutes (or longer as needed) everyday for this moment of focused connection. I have unkinked the hose and the water can now flow freely. Who knows what the day will bring?

Therapeutic Isolation

Isolation is only healthy in small doses and it has a specific purpose.

Today, all we have to do is unfollow someone who doesn’t think like we do to preserve our comfortable little island of solitude. We were put here to do God’s work on earth. We can’t do that from the comfort of our recliners. Believe me, I have tried!

My favorite Simon & Garfunkel songs all came for their album The Sounds of Silence. It was released in 1964…I was eight years old, and have vague recollections of hearing these songs being played on a car radio. It wasn’t until the 1980’s when I was in a difficult life situation that the words of these songs came to life for me. “I Am A Rock” is another song that is painfully honest, but so full of human truth.

These words are as true, if not even more so, today as they were when Paul Simon wrote them. Let them sink in and then look at the world and how we treat each other.

And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never share
No one dared
Disturb the sound of silence

~Paul Simon, The Sounds Of Silence

Too Much Of Anything Is Bad

Just like too much food makes us fat, excessive isolation leads to an unhealthy mental and emotional state. A regular dose of solitude is an important part of mental, spiritual and emotional health. Some of us need more than others, but we all need it. But, just like Jesus did, we must come out of our solitude and go do what we were put here to do. The what is individual; mine won’t look like yours. If we all live up to our potential, do what we were born to do, leave other people alone to do their work, the world would be a vastly different place. It would be heavenly, or as close as we are going to get on earth.

“But I how do I know what I was put here to do?” you might ask. Oh, have you come to the right place. This is exactly where I get stuck. Ask my friend Drew who has to hear me lament about this on a very regular basis! He always gently guides me back to the truth. And the truth is exactly what I heard from God last week. The what is not as important as the doing. It isn’t some grand cosmic secret that God is waiting for you to figure out. What do you do that fills your heart with joy? For some it will be the thing that earns them their living. For others it will be finding a cause to help with that benefits other people. And still for others, like me, it will be caring for home and family.

I am a nurturer. Nursing, teaching and being available for my family are all manifestations of that part of me. Today, writing is how I manifest my nurturing spirit. I can write just about anything, but what gives me the most joy is writing something that might help someone else. The words I record are the words I would speak to you in person. This is my reason for getting up each and every day. I consider it a high calling and an honor.

My eight year old granddaughter texted me recently. She said her step dad had told her to stop talking and that she could not talk for the rest of her life. She said, “I’m crying.” I know this noisy little child well enough to know that she was likely making a nuisance of herself and the adults needed to finish a task. I told her I was sorry and that maybe she should play in her room quietly for a while and things will be better. The conversation ended with, “Thank you, Mimi. I’ll text you if I need you again.” My heart swelled because I know I am fulfilling a special role in my grandchildren’s life. I am their safe place to fall. God is working through me to teach my grandchildren about love, kindness, respect, and that they are never alone. That is a big part of my high calling.

While we can’t expect perfection here, but what we can do is make our little corner as pretty, kind, and loving as we possibly can. And in the process life will not only be better for everyone, we can all enjoy ourselves along the way!

As always, keep looking up, embrace today and go find some fun!