For the past week, Tami and I have enjoyed listening to a taped lecture seriesÂ entitled, The Power of Vulnerability, by Dr. Brene Brown. Â As a professor in SocialÂ Work who employs Grounded Theory Research on the subject of shame, Brown hasÂ brilliantly tapped into why people feel shame and how that drives their thinking andÂ behaving. Â Her shame research has led her to address the subjects of guilt,Â compassion, empathy, and vulnerability. Â A major component of vulnerability isÂ authenticity. Â Hereâ€™s what Brown says about authenticity.
Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who weâ€™re supposed to be [or whoÂ 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 ourselvesÂ to be vulnerable.
- Expressing compassion that comes from knowing that weâ€™re all made of strengthÂ and struggle.
- Nurturing the connection and sense of belonging that can only happen when weÂ believe that weâ€™re enough.
- Authenticity demands wholehearted living and loving even when itâ€™s hardâ€¦ evenÂ when weâ€™re wrestling with the shame and fear of not being good enoughâ€¦ andÂ especially when the joy is so intense that we arenâ€™t afraid to let ourselves feel it.
- Practicing authenticity during our most soul-searching struggles is how we inviteÂ grace, joy, and gratitude into our lives.
Authenticity is a popular buzzword today in organizations, businesses, andÂ churches. Â As you can see from Brownâ€™s extended definition, itâ€™s one thing to claimÂ authenticity and itâ€™s another (hard) thing to actually live authentically.
Hereâ€™s where the Gospel comes in and allows us to live authentically. Â We are bornÂ with both dignity and depravity. Â We are created in Godâ€™s image, yet weâ€™re sinful toÂ the core. Â Jesus Christ willingly embraced all our depravity on the cross â€“ we areÂ pardoned slaves of sin. Â Not only that, but he grants us a more dignified status â€“ weÂ are adopted children of God and heirs with Jesus Christ.
â€œTherefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creationâ€ (2 Cor. 5:17). Â We are newÂ creaturesâ€¦ free to be authentic, honest, compassionate, filled with gratitude and joy.Â The â€˜shame-voicesâ€™ in our mind lose their grip and power as we live authentically inÂ our new identity as redeemed children of God.