For the past week, Tami and I have enjoyed listening to a taped lecture series entitled, The Power of Vulnerability, by Dr. Brene Brown. As a professor in Social Work who employs Grounded Theory Research on the subject of shame, Brown has brilliantly tapped into why people feel shame and how that drives their thinking and behaving. Her shame research has led her to address the subjects of guilt, compassion, empathy, and vulnerability. A major component of vulnerability is authenticity. Here’s what Brown says about authenticity.
Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we’re supposed to be [or who we think people want us to be] and embracing who we actually are.Choosing authenticity involves the following:
- Cultivating the courage to be imperfect, to set boundaries, and to allow ourselves to be vulnerable.
- Expressing compassion that comes from knowing that we’re all made of strength and struggle.
- Nurturing the connection and sense of belonging that can only happen when we believe that we’re enough.
- Authenticity demands wholehearted living and loving even when it’s hard… even when we’re wrestling with the shame and fear of not being good enough… and especially when the joy is so intense that we aren’t afraid to let ourselves feel it.
- Practicing authenticity during our most soul-searching struggles is how we invite grace, joy, and gratitude into our lives.
Authenticity is a popular buzzword today in organizations, businesses, and churches. As you can see from Brown’s extended definition, it’s one thing to claim authenticity and it’s another (hard) thing to actually live authentically.
Here’s where the Gospel comes in and allows us to live authentically. We are born with both dignity and depravity. We are created in God’s image, yet we’re sinful to the core. Jesus Christ willingly embraced all our depravity on the cross – we are pardoned slaves of sin. Not only that, but he grants us a more dignified status – we are adopted children of God and heirs with Jesus Christ.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation” (2 Cor. 5:17). We are new creatures… free to be authentic, honest, compassionate, filled with gratitude and joy. The ‘shame-voices’ in our mind lose their grip and power as we live authentically in our new identity as redeemed children of God.