Be Real

Beauty Begins with Biscotti: Be Real

 Be real. Be authentic. It's easy to say and difficult to do. Why is that? Or maybe I'm the only one who struggles with this. This clearance aisle flower has brightened my kitchen this past week. I love how beautiful it is. It's not trying to be an ivy, an herb, or an aloe plant. It's just growing and adding a hint of freshness to a room.

I'm offering some barriers that have kept me from being real. Can you relate to any?

Wrong standards. When my standards for values and beauty come from tv, magazines, catalogs, and media, I do not measure up. 

Comparing myself to other women. When I covet the looks, lifestyle, talents, and schedules of other women, I know I'm heading for trouble. And these can be Christian women! 

Expecting perfection. If I can't do it all, say it all, have it all, then I'm no good. I have to banish this thought daily and remind myself that I am human with limitations. 

Worrying about what other people think. Ugh. This is the strongest barrier to being real for me. I'll admit I'm tender-hearted and more sensitive than average, so I really have to keep this one in check. I mean, I'll walk into a room and think I'm the reason for whatever just happened. Yea. Or I'll be tempted to make a decision based on how other people will see it instead of what the best choice for is for me. 

Pride (again!) Being authentic means there's a chance that people will know my quirks, weaknesses and hang-ups. Like they can't get those from a glance! 

Past hurts. When I think about those times I have been real in my relationships and then experienced rejection, I must resist the urge to fake it.  

I should probably stop there before the list of barriers become a barricade. About a year ago, my post called Faking It skimmed the surface of this issue. This time, I want to offer some specific suggestions and words of encouragement to overcome each obstacle. 

Right standards. My standards for value and beauty come from scripture. I keep coming back to Proverbs 31 because there is so much wisdom for behaviors and appearance. These are standards that are pleasing to the Lord and worthy of striving for. 
25 Strength and dignity are her clothing,
    and she laughs at the time to come.
26 She opens her mouth with wisdom,
    and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
27 She looks well to the ways of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children rise up and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:
Comparing myself to God's Word. Instead of comparing myself to other people, I compare my actions and thoughts to Truth. Doing so allows me to honor the unique person God created me to be while giving me a target for right living. 

Expecting Grace instead of perfection. In the process of meeting goals, completing projects, taking risks, and achieving dreams, there's a chance I'm gonna make a mistake. And when I do, my God says, "I still love you." Learn from your mistakes and grow toward excellence in the knowledge that the Lord loves you no matter how you perform.
Focusing on what God thinks instead of what others think. This has been the most effective strategy to living authentically and it has helped me to combat the biggest stumbling block to being real. It is refreshing to soak in what the creator of the universe thinks of you and me. Here are just some reminders:

We are fearfully and wonderfully made.
We are clothed with strength and dignity.
God delights in us.
We are beautiful in His sight.
God cares for us.

Humility. I stopped trying to hide the parts of me that I considered embarrassing. I began to see these areas in my personality as opportunities for God's power to shine. I had to depend on the Lord's power, not my own will power, to walk me through circumstances.

Thankfulness. Bitterness can mold your personality into a shape that is so disfigured, not even you will recognize the original form in a mirror. Forgiveness, mixed with the ability to thank God for all of your experiences, can release you from holding on to the past. Hurts of long ago or yesterday do not need to define you or cause you to put up a facade. Be reminded that "All things work together for good to those who love God." Romans 8:28 promises this. 

I encourage you to be real with yourself and others. Quit pretending already! I'm not advocating a chance to be rude. I'm not saying to be obnoxious. I'm not suggesting that you vomit your issues to every person you encounter today. Love yourself the way God loves you: Just like you are.