My word for 2013 is authentic. And I am committed to pursuing this at every opportunity and at every prompting. Because, let’s just say, He’s prompted me at other times in other areas of my life. And I haven’t really followed through. Partly because I don’t like change. But mostly because I wasn’t willing to allow that change to seep into every crack and crevice of my life.
Honestly, this idea of being authentic is sort of a new concept for me… I consider myself to be a pretty honest person. And I’d never really thought about the value of being authentic much before God laid it on my heart. But the truth is, I am not authentic.
Because I have a problem. I’ve struggled with it for years.
You see, I have these fears.
And they’re ugly. I don’t like to think about them and certainly don’t want to admit them publicly – or really even privately for that matter – so, I keep them hidden, stuffed down, where I can try to avoid thinking about them.
During this last year, God keeps bringing them back to the surface. Back into the light. Over and over and over again.
This is sort of how the conversation has gone:
Eck! Really, God? Okay, I do see what You mean. Yes, actually You are so right. Oh my, I guess I really am doing that… yuk. Okay, I’ll stop listening to those fears and I’ll just ignore them, oh-yes-I-will.
Then I’d take my eyes off the Lord and fall prey to those same fears again. Because sometimes I want to appear different than I really am — I don’t want to offend. I want to be liked. I want to fit in.
But I am determined to no longer remain in the grip of these fears that have enslaved me. I want to be free to share here – and in life in general – anything and everything that God wants me to, without fear of what “someone might think”. Or at least without allowing my fears to keep me from acting in obedience and in faith.
I’m sharing this here not so much for your benefit but for mine. I just need to get this out so I can get over myself. And get on with the business of following Jesus, fearlessly.
And, I kinda-sorta thought some of y’all might be able to relate.
Soooo, in pursuit of authenticity, I thought I’d share a list of some of the fears that have swirled in my head…
My story is sorta boring.
My story is sorta crazy.
My story is pretty much all about God.
Lots of people roll their eyes when you say God. Especially when you say Jesus.
I don’t want people to think I’m a Jesus-freak.
But maybe I am a Jesus-freak.
Am I a freak?
I’M A FREAK!!!
It all makes me want to go eat a brownie. Or twelve.
None of these fears comes from God, though. Not one. And yet I have allowed them to steal space in my brain and peace from my heart for too long.
What these fears really are, when you strip away everything, is a fear of man. And fear of man, especially when it is given more weight and significance than God, is no good. And it is not pleasing to God. It is, at its root, idolizing the opinion of others over the opinion of God.
Evidently, I am a slow learner. Because it’s taken me 44 years for this truth to sink into my heart. I mean, I’ve recognized myself giving into fear. I’ve even tried to resist. And yet I’ve still allowed this fear to control my actions, thoughts and behaviors. Since forever.
“The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever leans on, trusts in, and puts his confidence in the Lord is safe and set on high.” — Proverbs 29:25
“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” — Galatians 1:10
“Hear Me, you who know what is right, you people who have My law in your hearts: Do not fear the reproach of men or be terrified by their insults. For the moth will eat them up like a garment; the worm will devour them like wool. But My righteousness will last forever, My salvation through all generations.” — Isaiah 51:7-8
The Bible is full of reminders to stay away from wanting to please others and to draw close to God. To choose to honor and obey Him rather than behave in a way to gain approval – or avoid disapproval – from others. Maybe I will have to let this go more than once. Maybe weekly. Maybe daily. And maybe even minute by minute. But the place that I’m going to start – where I’m drawing my line in the sand – is here.
From this day forward I am making an exchange. Exchanging those fears, those lies, with the truth of His Word. And I am certain that clinging to His truth will lead me to share all that He is doing in my heart. And all that I feel like He wants me to share here, regardless of what lies the world might want to shout at me.
Because this is the Truth..
“The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” — Zephaniah 3:17
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” — Romans 8:38-39
“Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are Mine. When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown! When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.” — Isaiah 43:1-2
“For one will scarcely die for a righteous person — though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die — but God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” — Romans 5:7-8
“But for you who fear My name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in His wings. And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture.” — Malachi 4:2
And so it begins. The stripping away of the old lies. Replacing it with His Truth. And continuing to do it day. by. day.
That’s better. It’s feeling way more authentic around here already.
How shall I feel at the judgement, if multitudes of missed opportunities pass before me in full review, and all my excuses prove to be disguises of my cowardice and pride? — W. E. Sangster
Amen and amen!
Long time lurker says
Fear not. We’re all freaks deep down. Each and every one of us.
Thank you. Working on my fears as well.
Similar journey right now for me, thank you for sharing, it is so encouraging……36 year journey over here to take away fear of man. UGH!!!! But Jesus doesnt care how long it takes, just that it gets done, hard as it is. This is a beautiful post, He is proud of you.
Thank you so much for sharing this. Gosh, I need this right now. I need the same reminders. Every day. All the time. I wish there was a magic REMEMBER TO NOT BE AFRAID bracelet to wear when thrown into situations where I need reminding that God is the Ultimate, not man.
YOu are not allow! I think many of us feel the same way as you do! Why? I am not sure! Why do we let the fear of man rule over choosing God. I am not sure! I think my fear is that it is so special to me that I would hate for anyone to say anything negative about my relationship about God or the way I worship him. I know this is wrong. I should trust in the Lord and trust my testimony of him. Thank you for sharing your testimony!
Praise God! A verse came to mind as I was reading your post. It is Galatians 5:1 “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery”. So thankful that He promises to complete what He begins in us. Looking forward to gleaning from your authenticity! Come to think of it…I already have! Thank you.
Beautiful truth. Truth, that hits close to home. Fear is always the deeper what behind my why’s (and why not’s). Thanks for your authenticity. I think it was CS Lewis who said, “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: What? You too! I thought I was the only one!” Love & Blessings, Kim
I happen to really like Jesus freaks :o)
I love this journey that you are sharing with us. It takes courage, a lot of courage. That’s something I’m working on, having courage. Or maybe I should say praying for. I don’t want to miss out on what God has for me because I’m too chicken. Thanks for being an awesome example of listening to his voice and obeying.
I so needed to read this today! I’ve been struggling with my focus. Worrying too much about how others see me vs. what God’s plan is for me. These Bible verses are perfect. What a blessing you are (in so many ways)!
meh – the “Jesus Freak” thing is overblown anyway – mostly by the same folks that want to take God out of everything – we’re cool!
And there’s a lot of Truth here Steph – and it’ll make waves for folks – so be it – I don’t start things for the short run, I’m more of a marathon runner than a sprinter anyway….I’ve never been about “how fast” but I’m all over “finishing”!
Hang tough – and go ahead and reach for a brownie if it get’s tough – a cup of coffee won’t hurt either – God allowed man to “discover” them for just such an emergency! 😉
hugs – aus and co.
Lee Ann says
Awesome, inspiring post Stef!! You and I are on the same journey this year…. 🙂 Have you read “Daring Greatly” by Brene Brown….a book on living more courageously and authentically. I just finished it….lots to think about. For me….I am really trying hard to let go of that need for approval and worry about what others think. Ugh!!
Hey Stephanie… I am just a lurker who is friends with Colleen. She got me hooked on your site ’cause she was talking about you all the time like I should know what was going on. lol Anywho… I appreciate your words, and wanted to say thanks for them and for being authentic. It’s not always easy to draw a line in the sand and take a stand so good job! 🙂
B. Bryan Post says there are only two emotions: love and fear. Every other emotion comes from these two. You are meeting fear head on, going with it to dig deeper, and bringing the light of God’s love to it. It’s not comfortable to go through these little prunings that God takes us through, but boy does it feel good when we come out on the other side!
There are Jesus “freaks” in the world who preach hatred to those who are not followers. You are a Jesus follower and there is a difference. I’ve never met you (yet) IRL but despite our differences in faiths we would get along, at the end of the day we love god and aim to live up to those ideals.
Tanya Thom says
I have felt those very same convictions, based on those very same fears. Oh how I thank God for you and your honesty, and for being raw and sharing that with us. It’s pretty clear that God is dealing with me right now. I have stirring in my heart that I can’t explain or pinpoint. Things in my life that need attention. Priorities that need changed. I have already made ‘baby steps’ in the right direction… but I need to start taking some real adult-sized steps and trusting Him through and through!
Thank you, yet again, for this post, too! I will rest on this one tonight. And if it’s not to late, I’d like to jump on board that ‘authentic’ train with you!!?!!
Blessings & Hugs! <