3 Steps to Authentic Relationships
Your relationships can FLOURISH or FAIL
In every relationship, we are currently somewhere on the real life Chutes and Ladders® board. Every conversation, probing question, opportunity to listen and chance to connect, will either propel us up a few rungs on the ladder or create a downward slide that will detrimentally impact our relationships.
While playing the Hasbro board game, one travels upward or downward depending on dumb luck–the roll of the dice. In the real life Chutes and Ladders, one moves up and down the board based on their choices. If healthy decisions are made, one will climb towards relational connection and fulfillment. Conversely, if these moments are missed or lost, a downward slide might send one to the bottom of the board to discover some familiar playmates–isolation and despair.
Q: What are the steps that we need to take to move us up the board towards the relational winners circle?
Step #1 Authenticity.
Bam! Right out of the chute there is an incredible opportunity to be catapulted up 4 rows! Unlike the board game where you have to roll a 1, this ladder is climbed by answering the question:
Q: How much of my true self am I going to bring into this relationship?
Ever since Adam and Eve’s first blunder, hiding has been a mainstay in the operating system of the human heart. Living an authentic life takes courage and initiative–something I’ve lacked much of my life.
Years ago, one of my pastor friends simultaneously paid me a great compliment and dropped on my heart’s doorstep a life altering truth. We were sitting on the balcony of a fish restaurant. As we were enjoying a nice lunch, watching the boats sail by in the harbor below, his voice became serious and strong as he looked me straight in the eyes and said, “Craig, if I ever went to war–I’d want you in the foxhole next to me. I don’t think there is anyone who I would trust more with my life.” My heart and soul swelled with honor, blessedness, and maybe a pinch of pride. His next comment completely put me on my heels, “But I’d never share with you my deepest, darkest secrets.” I was shocked! How can someone want to go to war with me but not let me into the hallway closet of their life? I began a journey of asking questions and seeking answers which has and will continue all of my days. My friend didn’t just put a spot light on the glaring gap of authenticity in my life–he demonstrated what it looked like to be genuine in relationships. Authenticity rightly understood is the ability to share with people– where we are at in a point of time, who we really are, and who we are created to be. This type of authenticity leads to a messy, blessed, and rewarding life!
For some, there is an imposter that dwells in the shadow of our lives, whispering messages that send us adrift from truth & authenticity and shove us further from real connection with God and others. What are these messages? “I’ll never be enough or do enough.” “If they really knew me–they wouldn’t love me.” How can we move towards living an authentic life with these messages from the imposter in our life?
One can move up the ladder towards greater authenticity by…
#1 Recognizing BROKENNESS
Not to sound morbid, but the authenticity forged in the depths of brokenness is solid, lasting, and beautiful. There is a subterranean genuineness that permeates all the relationships of the broken. The new operating system of brokenness is honesty, openness, safety, humility, a desire to learn and grow, and a longing to share and connect. My guess is that the Apostle Paul possessed this type of powerful authenticity. Paul’s authenticity allowed him to simultaneously say, “I have become a slave of all that I might win some to Christ,” (I Corinthians 9:22) and that, “I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court” (I Corinthians 4:2-4).
The authenticity Paul possessed allowed him to live a life where he cared about, but wasn’t controlled by the people around him. The broken have waved good-bye to the lies of the imposter and said, “so long” to living in Emptysville. The broken live radiantly authentic lives!
#2 Acquiring WISDOM
If we realize some of the truths that God has woven into the world He has created, we will be encouraged and wooed to live an authentic life. Jesus’ life declared many relational truths, probably few as strong as this: Pleasing everyone is a recipe for disaster. Consider the words of Matthew 22:16 – “Teacher,” they said, “we know you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are.” If we want to live lives of authenticity, we too need to be dedicated to pleasing the Father above all else (Galatians 1:10)!
Wisdom also instructs us that: Authenticity is absolutely essential for connection. Intimacy with God and others requires that we bring our true selves with which to connect. If we bring our false self, we will not only deny those around us from the opportunity to experience the real us, we will also deprive ourselves of the needed connection that our souls crave.
#3 Listen to GOD’S VOICE
As we listen to God’s voice, either through the pages of Scripture or in prayer, we hear His heart, feelings, and disposition towards us. How precious are the moments when God breaks into our lives, whispers truth and quiets the voice of our imposter! At Jesus’ baptism, His Father spoke to Him. “This is my Son, whom I love, with Him I am well pleased!” (Matthew 3:17)
Q: How would life be different if we heard from the Father that we belong to Him–that we are His child?
Q: How would life be different if we heard from the Father that His love for us is deep, furious and unquenchable?
Q: How would life be different if we heard that the Father is pleased with us, not because of our imperfect behavior, but because He looks at us through Jesus’ perfect behavior?
We can acquire authenticity from the external influence of being BROKEN, we can learn authenticity through the internal process of gaining WISDOM or we can we can experience authenticity through the healing words spoken by God himself.
Go live a life rich with authenticity and connection!
Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” ~Dr. Seuss
© 2012 Craig Morris Flourish Ministries