Days upon days – missed!
Best laid plans of mice and men – right? Sign up for a 31 day writing challenge and then leave on day two for a women’s retreat. Without having your drafts set to post while you are away. Not a great start. I’ve got just enough audacity, though, to keep pressing on.
What does it mean to be authentic anyway? Not false or copied; genuine; real.
I don’t know about you, but there were years in my twenties I tried on personality qualities of those around me. I respected them. It’s not that I wanted to steal from them. I just didn’t have a clue who I was. As women often do, I compared myself to women around me and knew I fell short in most areas of my life. Grasping at straws to have some kind of identity, I tried on different hats waiting for one to fit just right. They never quite did.
Perhaps that’s part of why I’m so passionate about authenticity. My journey to understanding authenticity is a journey I would not trade for anything. You see, my first taste of what it meant to be the real me came at nineteen. I had no idea what to do with it. I came face to face with the reality of just how lost I was. At eighteen I was pregnant and scared to death.
I felt alone, overwhelmed and confused about what to do. I had options, they said. Numb and terrified I researched those options. One cold silent step at a time I walked the halls in search of the answer. A young fatherless woman in search of wisdom that would direct me, I cried out in my numbness to God I wasn’t sure existed. If you are real, will you show me what to do. I need to know. The days passed in slow motion until before I knew it these twenty-four hours periods passed into weeks. Just a few weeks after the research began I made the decision to keep the baby. I couldn’t make sense of any of it. How would I do it? How would I parent and provide for this child who would be dependent upon me for everything. Everything? In a moment I made a decision I would give anything to go back in time and change. Before I knew it I was home in the solitude of my bedroom with darkness surrounding me. Just the way I wanted it. Deserved it to be. How could I have chosen to take the life of my unborn child? Nothing made sense to me except the shame I felt.
Yet, this is the very beginning of truly understanding the real me. The reality of what my fear would drive me to choose was something I could not run from or ignore.
As I sought to understand how to be beautiful like Leigh and Debbie and how to carry myself like they did with such confidence and joy, I followed them to a bible study we were invited to. Now you have to understand, the bible was not something I grew up with. Turning the pages week after week revealed things I had never heard before. With increasing guilt and feeling dirty and ashamed I showed up on the doorstep ready for more. Something was enticing me to return.
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding. Proverbs 9:10. (KJV)
The day I began to understand myself in light of this truth is the day my credible search for who I was took root in something (someone) other than those around me.
The day I understood I was created by God and meant to acknowledge my need for him was the first time I tasted peace in the search for the authentic me. The pieces were not all accounted for and appropriately placed on the roadmap to finding my identity, but meeting the Creator of the universe and understanding that he knew each of my days before one of them came to be was the stake in the ground I would come back to over and over through my lifetime. You see, it is the one thing that changed the course of my life.
How can we, you and I, live with audacious authenticity unless we draw from the one who knows us best?