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An Authentic Life Means it’s Time to Stop Hiding

Recently I re-read Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist (which you can find here) and was struck hard by a sentence that didn’t stand out to me the first time I read her book. The sentence is short, just 10 words, but put together those words summarized how I have felt for much of my adult life.

“I’ve been afraid to be seen for so many years.”

Wow. That’s exactly it.

I have been afraid to be seen for who I really am. Do you know what I mean? Have you ever looked in the mirror and felt the same? I was afraid that if the world knew who I was, and could see me without the masks I used to fit in, that it would be game over. Have you felt that way when heading out the door in the morning, or when asked for your opinion on a sensitive topic? Have you fought the urge to be authentic or give your thoughts on a topic? And if you have, can you now push through, take your own mask off and be seen? (The answer for that last one might be, “it depends” and I can identify with that.)

Okay, let’s just sit with that for a moment before breaking it down. It’s a big, complicated topic and we need a minute to let it settle in, don’t you think?  So take a minute or two and reflect on what being seen means for you, before we move on.

{here’s your quiet reflection time}

An Authentic Life Means it’s Time to Be Seen

Alright, on we go!

Now, I don’t believe that this ah-ha moment around being seen comes easily, quickly or with any sort of notice. This is only something we can really identify if we are already doing some of the work internally and with the Holy Spirit, without the world’s noise ringing in our ears. As I have touched on before, I began my discernment about what God was asking of me over three years ago. Give up the practice of law? Go to seminary? Become a deacon? Step out of the shadows as a Christian writer who welcomes all people, no questions asked? (You can read more about how I overcame the fear of stepping out as a writer here.)

God wanted me to stop hiding behind myself.

God was asking me to be ME. To let myself be seen as he made me, not as anybody less, not anybody more. 

The time it took to get to this season of authenticity felt like an eternity. It required much prayer, talking with my husband, closest friends, and spiritual adviser.

Oh, and did I mention the part where I had to accept who I was and that I am not ever going to be a part of the typical social circles? That was no joke and not just a little painful! To be wired differently and know that if I want to live an authentic life, to be seen, that I had to stop cramming my size 7 foot into Cinderella’s size 6 glass slipper was hard to do without getting hurt. (oh, and PS; I did get hurt. It would have been hard to dodge that outcome)

How to Live an Authentic Life and Stop Hiding by Jen Fournier

Frankly, I am not sure I would have known my fear of being seen prior to this process. I likely would have shoved any feelings about being myself down into bags marked “try to fit in”, “make sure you are successful” or “keep up socially”. Now I have far more self-awareness, thanks to my time with God. A few of the insights include:

I am a highly sensitive person who cannot be around tragic situations without being pulled to help at a core level.

I am most comfortable in small groups.

Injustice makes me crazy.

Learning about Jesus, the Jesus Movement, writing about walking in love, being authentic, and working through challenging topics matters deeply to me.

I believe we can all do better, myself included. But we can rest in knowing we are enough, deeply loved, and forgiven when we fall short each day.

Oh, and news flash! I am not even close to living fully into myself. Not by a long shot. But I am taking the steps forward, and often backward, which get me closer to living the life I was created to live.

As long as we can each remember how loved we are, by God above all, especially on the days when we feel out of place or socially awkward, we are going to be our freest selves.

And we will be wearing the right size glass slipper for each step of the journey.

Is your glass slipper too small? How are you learning to live an authentic life?

blessings,

Jen

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