Nothing annoys me more than someone fake.
I’d rather talk to a newly saved Christian who’s confused about why Jesus had to die on the cross than an educated theologian who tweets that “Jesus was a socialist.” The difference is that one of them is being honest, acknowledging their ignorance and seeking truth; the other is putting on a show to score political points. The theologian has no excuse. He knows better, yet still chooses to propagate a lie.
You see it every day. Maybe your dad has convinced himself that buying more gadgets will make him happy when you know he’s empty inside. Maybe your friend follows the latest trends and always seems to agree with whatever the news is saying. Maybe you’ve found yourself pressured by your peers, only to give in and conform to their preferences for the sake of feeling valued. It’s hard to resist. It’s hard to be true to yourself.
Isn’t That Sinful?
What complicates this further is that being true to oneself has gotten a bad rap in some Christian circles today. This is for good reason. When most modern media tells us to be true to ourselves, what they’re really saying is that we are the god of our own hedonistic pursuits. “Do what makes you happy! Live for you! Follow your heart!” This kind of thinking is purely selfish and runs counter to the truth of the Bible and the person of Jesus Christ.
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”Jeremiah 17:9 (ESV)
“Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”Luke 12:15 (ESV)
“He must increase, but I must decrease.”John 3:30 (ESV)
But let’s leave pride and pleasure-seeking aside for now. Today, I want to talk about being true to yourself in the context of following Christ. I’m talking about vulnerable authenticity and self-reflection followed by diligent sanctification and accountability.
Merriam-Webster defines authenticity as being “true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character.” But if we stopped there, we’d be left in our own selfishness, authentically sinful. We have to go further. Recognize and acknowledge who you are, but proceed then to bold action in living out your potential as God’s child, remaining vigilant to combat temptation and darkness within you.
My goal is to take this process and address it one step at a time. Bear with me. I know some of this might sound like self-help mumbo jumbo on the surface, but I’m convinced this is an essential part of maturing in your faith and identity as a genuine Christian.
Recognize the Real You
The first step is to recognize the real you—not what you present to your friends, not what your social media shows, and not who you wish you were. Just you. Confront yourself and really dig deep. Who are you? What fulfills you? What makes you cry? What do you daydream about? What tempts you to sin? What do you spend most of your free time doing? What do you believe about the nature of God, your purpose on this earth, and the purpose of those around you?
If you have friends you can trust, ask them what they observe about you. What would they say are your habits, values, or fears? What would they say are the things you talk most passionately about and the weaknesses you display?
Some people live their whole lives without ever answering these questions. It’s too easy to live on autopilot, pretending that what matters most is what you’re doing right now and what form of entertainment or frivolity is waiting around the corner. But life’s substance doesn’t consist of Marvel movies, mocha lattes, or Instagram. Life’s substance consists of real people, real choices, and real consequences. If you don’t take ownership of your life, you’ll quickly find yourself drifting in a sea of mediocrity, bereft of purpose or identity. Don’t let it happen. You have to nail it down. Who are you?
This isn’t to say you have to figure everything out all at once. In fact, most people will give up if they try to handle too much too quickly. Instead, just challenge yourself a little bit every day. It’s part of how we all grow up. But while most people avoid the big questions until they’re staring them in the face, I’d argue the better approach is to seek them out and deal with them head on.
Talk to Yourself
An easy way to do this is to answer those questions in a journal or other creative outlet. For me, I wrote poems. Boy, did I write poems. I would whip out my phone wherever I was and write down exactly how I felt, what I was struggling with, or who I was becoming. It was immensely helpful in figuring out who I really was and what demons I needed to wrestle. I didn’t care if it was embarrassing. I would write down my sins in all their ugly detail. I didn’t care if I was immature. I would write the most edgy stuff sometimes. I didn’t care if I had all the answers yet. I would frequently have dialogues with myself about things I wasn’t yet decided on, just to get a better grasp on the issue or situation. It was therapeutic. I highly recommend it.
Revealing these hidden parts of your identity and turning them inside out is a key step on the road to being true to yourself in a way that honors God more fully. Next week, we’ll talk about what it means to acknowledge who you are and really own up to it. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Enter your email if you want to be notified when my next post goes live. Thanks for reading. Godspeed.