The Power Of Authenticity

This is Day 5 of my Write 31 Days series for 2017: 31 Days of Kintsugi.
For an index of all the posts in the series, please click here.

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“Once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
(Margery Williams Bianco- The Velveteen Rabbit)

A third principle of Kintsugi is authenticity- the choice not to hide the brokenness but to display it.

Kintsugi is linked to the Japanese philosophy wabi sabi, which chooses to embrace the flawed or imperfect.  Rather than seeing the object as spoiled by the brokenness, or attempting an invisible repair, Kintsugi acknowledges the brokenness as part of the object’s history.

I find this challenging.  In Western culture, and often in Christian culture, brokenness is  considered something to hide.  We cover our scars so no-one can see, we bury the pain within us for fear of what others will think, we talk only of problems we can relate in the past tense and pretend that our present life is perfect.

But what if, instead, we could be real about our struggles?

I remember, several years ago, going to visit a lady who had been a significant influence on me as a teenager.  She had always been someone I looked up to.  Faith seemed to shine out of her, and she had always been what I thought of as a “perfect Christian.”

But on this visit, when I was in my early 20s, it was clear that everything was not perfect.  Her faith in God was still strong, but she was struggling to deal with a situation where she had been hurt and she was uncertain about the way ahead.  For the first time I realised that she wasn’t a “perfect Christian,” that actually there’s no such thing, that she was just a human being like everyone else.

And in that moment, I thought more highly of her than ever.

I appreciated her honesty, that she had been willing to share her struggle so that I could pray for her.  I admired her courage in opening up, and I felt privileged that she trusted me enough to be real, that she didn’t feel she had to hide behind a mask or pretend that everything in her life was perfect.

I thought of the times in the past when I had seen her show great faith, when she had stepped out boldly for God, and when she had loved radically.  I realised she wasn’t super-human.  She was just an ordinary person, filled with the Holy Spirit, and so rather than her example being out of reach to me, it suddenly became something I could aspire to.  She ministered to me just as much in her brokenness as she had in her wholeness.

It is natural to worry about how others will respond if we reveal our brokenness, but the truth is we are all broken.  We all carry scars and damage from past circumstances or relationships.  We all have places where our wounds have healed, but they still ache from time to time.

Authenticity is a challenge, but without it we will always wonder, “What would they think if I told them?”

What if we could take the risk and find out the answer to that question?  I’ve a feeling it might be better than we think!

“True belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world.  Our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.”  (Brene Brown- Daring Greatly)

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28 thoughts on “The Power Of Authenticity

  1. “True belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world. Our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.” (Brene Brown- Daring Greatly). I love this quote! This is something that I’ve been thinking about lately as well…in the sense that we need to take care of ourselves, develop our own relationship with God, discipleship, before we can effectively reach out to others.

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    1. Thanks, Anne! Yes, it definitely helps us reach out to others and be willing to be real even about the messy bits of our lives when we know that our relationship with God is secure.

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  2. Isn’t it amazing how God uses our broken places? I’m so grateful when people can be authentic and vulnerable. There is risk in vulnerability, but the outcome is so worth it.

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  3. Thank you for sharing this reminder to be authentic. Just last week with a group of ladies we were talking about the power of being real and not trying to gloss over the difficult things. When we are real, when we are authentic we can pray for one another and encourage one another. Thank you again for this reminder.

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  4. Lesley, I really enjoyed reading your post. I particularly enjoy the comment, “Rather than seeing the object as spoiled by the brokenness, or attempting an invisible repair, Kintsugi acknowledges the brokenness as part of the object’s history.” How different a perspective when compared to the North American perspective of hiding things, especially brokenness, so we appear as though we have it all together. Yet, as you discuss this brokenness is part of who we are and actually gives us depth and value. Thanks for the article!

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    1. Thanks, Claudio! Yes, it is very counter-cultural. (I’m in Scotland but it is the same here.) It makes a big difference when we can be our authentic selves.

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  5. Throughout my life I tried hard to present to the world a somewhat “perfect” image. I especially struggled with always coming across intelligent, and tried very hard to not make mistakes. One time while cooking I dropped something on to the bottom of the oven. I made the very stupid mistake of trying to retrieve it. Needless to say, I suffered a pretty serious burn on my forearm, that resulted in a nasty looking scar. The interesting thing, though, is that today when I look at it I don’t actually feel so stupid. It’s a tangible way of reminding me that I am far from perfect, but that is okay. My scar is kind of like the gold kinsugi lines that only enhances my humanness, and that is perfectly fine. Thanks for writing. I am really loving your series.

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    1. Thanks for sharing your story, Shari! I love how your scar reminds you of an important lesson and that it’s okay not to be perfect. I have definitely struggled with trying to present a “perfect” image too. Thanks for your encouragement- I’m glad you are liking the series!

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  6. You’re speaking my language here, Lesley. The older I get, the less energy I have for worrying about what anyone else thinks and the more I want to let God use my struggles to encourage other people. Life is too short and unpredictable to do otherwise, I think. Hugs, friend!

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    1. I’m definitely still a work in progress on this but I am gradually learning to care less what people think. Your authentic sharing is one of the reasons why I love your blog! Hugs!

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