“When we are genuine, people meet us in a human way and get a glimpse of our personal life of faith.”
— RICHARD M. GULA
There is a gift we can give another person; every other person!
This gift is a gift to ourselves as much of the other person, but the other person benefits in ways that are quite rare. They get a real person. And when we are genuine, we also gain by being that real person.
We shouldn’t assume that being a real person is an easy thing. Most people have to spend years of their lives undoing the vast tapestry of falsity they have learned serves them well in a world valuing duplicity, partiality, and quirkiness and the like. Most people have learned to wear their masks, and they choose a different mask according to the situation. At the end of the day most people have learned to be anything but genuine.
I want to devote the rest of the article to how we become and be more genuine.
Becoming and Being Very Real Despite the Costs
There is certainly a cost of becoming and being real. It has to become the most important thing otherwise we don’t stand a chance.
First of all, we must get to a position where we like ourselves; where we accept who we are and what we have become and what has made us who we are. Again, we may think this is easy. In reality it will take years, but because most of us have years to invest we would be mad not to invest.
Secondly, it helps if we identify the costs and agree beforehand we are willing to pay. Whenever we think of costs we always underestimate the level of sacrifice required, whilst we overestimate the value of the realised goal. But if we have agreed beforehand we will remain committed and we may succeed.
Thirdly, we must appreciate the value of being genuine, to the point that sometimes being genuine means we shouldn’t defend ourselves, even if to save ourselves from embarrassment. Being genuine means being seen as weak as well as strong, and as wrong as well as right. We shouldn’t manipulate situations to make ourselves look better than our acknowledged or the collectively accepted reality.
Fourthly, nothing helps us more than to appreciate the benefit, personally and interpersonally, of being real; where others can rely on us as safe people, whilst we can rely on ourselves to be that safe person.
Fifthly and finally, when we get past our fear for being vulnerable, when we feel safe enough to risk, we know we can trust everyone with ‘who’ we actually are. Guards are dropped in the knowledge that there is no better strength to show than the strength in humble authenticity. Fearful people—people who may be typically untrustworthy regarding our vulnerabilities—tend more to shy away from direct conflict with people who are bold enough to be real.
Becoming and being a genuine person is the greatest gift we can give another person, whilst it is also the greatest gift we can give to ourselves. Being real has as its process the honouring of truth at all times. Being real is also the best way to honour God.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.