Thursday, July 25, 2013

I Am Woman: Genuine and Real

By Julie Gernand
This seems to happen often with me, and perhaps I am too quick to judge others in this area. 
Hasty judgement is a fault of mine for which I constantly need to seek forgiveness. Yet, how often do you come away from a conversation with another woman and think “their personality seemed…. fake.”
My mother likes to call it “putting on airs”. Trying to cover up one’s true feelings. Not being REAL with another person.  We are ALL subject to this “fake-syndrome” at some point, friends!

I like people to be honest with me. I enjoy hearing about how someone truly feels. Yet in today’s society, how easy is it for us to brush off answering a question of “How are you?” with a terse “I’m fine!” when really we have so much more going on under the surface. 

The same goes for the question-asker. Our everyday life is often filled with asking others how they are, yet being truly unwilling to ask any deeper, personal questions about that person’s life – or even failing to really listen to that person’s reply. This, too, is a type of fake, inauthentic behavior, and is all too common. 

Proverbs 31: 24-29

24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
    and supplies the merchants with sashes.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
    she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
    and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
    but you surpass them all.”

I don’t know about you, but when I think of the woman described in the above verses, I think of a bonafide, genuine woman. This Proverbs 31 woman is noble, wise, and immersed in strength and dignity. This gal cares about others, folks. She is the salt of the earth. And she isn’t afraid to be real with people.

There are a few reasons why we can fall into the trap of “fake” behavior:

ONE: We feel intimidated or belittled. I have often fallen into this category. When working with someone who is older than me, for example, I can fall into the trap of non-genuine, fake behavior full of short, yes/no answers and quick responses, all because I am afraid to stand up for myself and act naturally. When we fear someone’s judgement, or fear that others will dislike us if we act like our true, natural selves, we will not set a Godly example of truthful living. Do not let the opinions of others change your behavior!

1 Timothy 4:12  - Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.

TWO: We are self-focused. When we focus on how WE feel, what WE think, and what WE want of a consistent basis, we will not be the example commanded of us in the above verse. Inauthentic, shallow behavior begins with the focus on self. Take Jesus, for example. His perfect example of how to love others is also the model of an authentic personality. He took interest in what others had to say. He listened to the plights of the lowest of the lowly and cared for the lame and sick. He actively shared God’s love through acts of service. He performed the HIGHEST form of selfless love through his death on Calvary! Yet, how often we slip into the mundane drone of life, focused on our realistically small problems, and we forget to pray and genuinely love and listen to others.

 Luke 6:35 - But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.

THREE: We are trying to cover up our insecurity. I know someone who doesn’t know Jesus. This friend, through various circumstances, often tries to prove themselves as the best and brightest. I call this one-upping. We all know someone who has done this. Someone you’re talking to will go on at great lengths to convey to you a time when their situation was more intense, more painful, or more joyful than any situation you describe to them. They will even greatly exaggerate – or perhaps invent – circumstances that show them to be “on top”. Such behavior is far from the grounded truthfulness Jesus desires for us to show.

When we are secure in Jesus, we can rest in the fact that He Alone is sufficient for us. We don’t need to be the greatest in every life event, but we know that we are part of the homely mass of sinners created to live on earth. We can confidently, lovingly share Jesus’ promises with others – openly and honestly – because we realize that no matter how intimidating others seem, or how insecure we may feel, we stand on equal ground at Jesus’ feet. We all need forgiveness, and we are all loved equally by our loving, awesome God.

1 Peter 3:8 -Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, 
a tender heart, and a humble mind.

Jesus, You are real. Your promises, Word, and love are so, so real. Help us to portray a true picture of You through grounded authenticity. We realize that this is often easier said than done, and we will fail. But let us always be reminded of your example, your truth, and your love.

Amen.

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