“Can I be real with you?” she asked from across the table, two lattes between us.
It was a simple enough question, but it meant the world to me. She was asking if we could shove aside the pretense and the pretending we were okay. Her question was a gate swinging wide and an invitation into heart-to-heart conversation about life—in the middle, in the mess, in the every day battle for faith.
God had been teaching me to live an authentic life before Him and others, and now there was someone in front of me who received me for me…and still liked me.
Skimming through the pages of my past would find me surrounded by the opposite of honesty and integrity. I was wounded and deeply disappointed by those whom I believed loved God, but lived in ways quite contrary. That mingled with my own belief that perfection trumped transparency had left me weary, trust depleted, searching for a soft place to land.
God was calling me to live faith wide open. I simply wanted to hide.
As I scanned the landscape of Christian faith, I saw God stirring up a movement—people of faith willing to admit that, while we love Jesus with our whole hearts, we know we aren’t Him.
We are not perfect. We are not sinless. We are saved.
I knew then, that this calling to lay myself bare—to be real—wasn’t just a suggestion. It was a necessity, a command even. I not only needed to restore and reignite my faith, but I needed to empower others to do the same.
That charge opened my eyes to the beauty of authentic faith. As I took steps of obedience, God lead me to an incredible community of believers, a new church, and a sisterhood that lived wide open right alongside me. The safe place I so desperately needed.
My heart is to live out what God has and is showing me every day, but especially with the words that I lay down in this space—by speaking truth with grace, being honest about my imperfections, and creating a safe place for you to do the same.
So…as believers in Christ, how do we live authentically? How do we live real?
- Be authentic and honest, but always accountable to God.
There is something beautiful about our willingness to share our stories, both the mountains and the valleys of our faith. However, our fellowship as believers is not in commiserating over sin, but in being cleansed of it. (1 John 1:7) We should receive the hurt, misunderstood, and confused with grace in abundance to that which we’ve received. And then, we offer them the remedy—God’s truth. Authentic faith leaves us better than we were found.
- Authenticity does not trump privacy.
We have a Father who receives us as we are. There is nothing that we can’t bring to His feet, lay at His thrown, or process in His presence. (Hebrews 4:15) As such, He is our first line of defense. Our desire to encourage others in their faith can’t come before we seek God honestly and privately. There is no redemptive power in my story, but in what God does in and through me. By allowing God to sift through our thoughts, we ensure that we point others toward Him, not back to us. Authentic faith seeks God first.
- Proceed with wisdom and caution.
Being vulnerable can tap our emotional and spiritual resources. Hence, the necessity to go to God first for strength. But often, I feel first. My emotions drive me, but feelings can also mislead. Being real doesn’t give way to cattiness, insensitivity, bitterness and divisiveness. (Colossians 4:6) Vulnerability without wisdom can derail our validity. If I dump every single thing I feel on those I’m called to point to God, I’m going to look more crazy than honest. Authentic faith is not about keeping up appearances, but we won’t impact anybody if they aren’t listening to what we say.
- Practice within your community.
My journey toward the pursuit of transparency in faith left me on the outskirts of a long-standing community. Not everyone is of the mindset that living honest before God is a good thing. We are sinners after all. Just because we’ve chosen to give grace, doesn’t mean we’ll be received with it. While God is our safe spot, we need people who will receive us flawed and frayed. They are the place we practice being real; our grace place. Authentic faith is not lived out alone.
The path of faith is not easily navigated. There are intricacies that make it one of the most difficult terrains to travel. But there is no journey that is more rewarding.
When we open ourselves to the incredible wonder of a God who doesn’t require secrets, or pretense, or our self-imposed perfections, we come face-to-face with the most beautiful kind of freedom.
Authentic faith isn’t religion, it’s relationship.
There is no better way to honor the most valuable bond in our life than to be honest and humble—to be real. ♥
By His endless grace,
You can also find these words linked up at my favorite spots: Jennifer Dukes Lee – Tell His Story, Holley Gerth – Coffee for Your Heart, Kristin Hill Taylor – Porch Stories, Lyli Dunbar – Faith on Fire, Crystal Storms – Heart Encouragement Thursday, and Arabah Joy’s Grace & Truth.
This post was revised from archives and originally published on Simply for One.