Sunday, November 15, 2015

The Price of Authenticity

Authentic relationships come at a price.

To get them, you have to give up your walls and your facades, and you also have to let go of your fear of seeing behind other people's walls. You have to put your heart on the line, even when it's hard, and you have to see the hearts of those around you beyond the ugly stuff that will often make people run away. You have to let go of your pride and pick up more empathy than most of us are naturally accustomed to carrying.

In the world we live in today, the world of social media and privacy settings and Instagram filters, we get to pick and choose the image that we want to put out. We get to post the pictures of the beautiful things and the fun experiences and write the statuses about how wonderful life is without having to tell people when we're struggling if we don't want to. And telling people about all the awesome things going on is a lot easier and more comfortable than admitting that life may not be so great right now.

It can be terrifying to have someone else's vulnerabilities laid out right in front of you, just as terrifying as if you're the one who is putting the most personal parts of yourself out there open for judgment or rejection. It's so much easier to say, "Nope. Forget it." Organic food is all the rage, but organic relationships scare the crap out of us.

I know. I had to deal with it today. I went to lunch with a girl from church, and she asked me to tell her my story. I love sharing my story with people, that's no secret, but that doesn't make it easy to do it. It's hard to go back to memories I've worked so hard to move past. It's hard to talk about my dad, even after 16 years, because I get hit with the reminder of everything I've missed out on. It's hard to talk about feelings because they take me back to the girl I spent so much time letting go of and moving beyond.

When you let go and get real, things get messy. But they also get so much more beautiful. It's beautiful to have people who know you in your bones and stand by you. Because those people, those relationships, they're what get you through life when everything feels like it's falling apart. For me, the people with whom I've managed to form authentic relationships are the people I can't imagine my life without now. They're the people whom I can run to when I'm upset or lost or angry or hurt and know that I don't have to be afraid to say whatever I'm feeling. They're the people who know my deepest scars, where I've been, and what I'm most afraid of.

But the most beautiful part is they know that I'll be just as loyal to them through their messy stuff as they are to me. Authentic relationships are about safety for both people, not just one. Clayton, knowing that I often worry about taking too much and not giving enough, once told me in order to assuage my fears that our relationship wouldn't possibly go as deep or be as strong as it is if he were the only one giving. That's something that has always stuck with me, because it's not just a reminder of how strong our relationship is, but also the fact that God can do so much good through us, even when we can't see how it's possible.

You don't have to always get it right, because let's face it - none of us will always get it right. When our relationships are truly authentic, we don't have to always get it right because the relationships will overcome the times we mess everything up. I got to experience that this weekend. The past two weeks have been really tough with someone that has been very, very dear to me for a couple years now, and honestly, I wondered for a bit if we could overcome it, but we had a conversation yesterday that I believe led us back to the place of understanding each other we'd always been at before everything sort of...blew up. This person and I, we've both always said that nothing could break the bond that we have with each other, and considering this is the first time we've ever had a problem, it's really nice to get the confirmation that we were right.

So yeah, authentic relationships cost a lot. But if you ask me, the reward makes it all worth it.

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