“We all know that perfection is a mask... The people with whom we have deepest connection are those who acknowledge their weaknesses.”
— Parker Palmer
Connecting in inauthentic ways is a serious misnomer on the stage of relational life. We have all tried to get along with people, where neither we nor they could truly be ourselves or themselves. There wasn’t enough trust, or the relationship was forced in some way, or we were just trying too hard. Relationships that are etched in a lack of authenticity are stressful to say the least.
Yet, none of us, in this relational way, wants to be a phoney.
Sometimes we are tempted to put on a mask, however; to present our ‘perfect’ selves—which is a grand delusion. We see it sometimes at church—the ‘church face’ comes out. But we cannot hide behind such a mask, for most people worth their salt discern the fake overture from a mile off, credibility is lost, and relational outcomes plummet.
We are best just being ourselves. When we can be ourselves we encourage others to be themselves. Our authenticity begets theirs and happier relations take place.
But being ourselves is often not as easy as it sounds. It involves risk.
Shedding the Layers to Reveal Authenticity
Taking the proverbial onion, amidst the layers, we see the layers indicative of our personalities—those protective layers—those layers that prevent people from seeing the real us—the weaker vessel. I hope it’s not a lame metaphor, but stripping away those layers is a necessity if we, and they, are to enjoy genuine fellowship.
We take a risk in presenting as vulnerable, but it is a risk that pays off, because in the weakness of vulnerability there is a strength that people admire, if we are comfortable with our weakness—such that we allow it to be present. This is a big ‘if’.
It doesn’t do us much good to shed the layers and feel ashamed.
But if we can give a person our true selves, without the fabricated pretence, we give them a gift—the best possible gift we could give anyone: our very selves.
And this is not just a gift to others—that which we present in genuineness.
When we arrive at proper fellowship, where hearts are bonded because trust has ensued, due the extension of realness, we, ourselves, are blessed.
The best of gifts in the relational life is the giving of our authentic selves. With nothing left to prove and nothing with which to gain, we are comfortable in our weakness, and in that we derive strength; strength we give to the other by trusting them with who we are. The genesis of respectful loving fellowship is then formed.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.