Be Yourself

I struggle a lot with being myself.

That’s not exactly right.

I struggle a lot with managing my level of authenticity.

See, in my ideal world, I’m super authentic all the time. I say how I feel, I don’t play games, and I do what I want. But in the real world, it doesn’t always work like that. In the real world, I have to constantly be aware of how authentic I’m being, for fear that I may reveal too much too soon.

It’s weird that we have to worry about that. I guess it’s a social defense mechanism. If someone is too honest about who they are, there’s always a fear that they’re being false (that’s weird) or that they have some type of social disorder. We talk about TMI and “oversharing” as if they are huge social gaffes. Scratch that, TMI and “oversharing” are huge social gaffes.

But why?

Why do we crave authenticity and knowledge of people but actively shun it? Why do we hope for intimacy and closeness but become uncomfortable when we’re given just that? Why are we afraid of being ourselves?

I was once heatedly discussing this with my friend’s dad, who is a pastor, and he made the point that it’s a result of the Fall. That we can’t be naked anymore because of the shame associated with it. At the time I probably discounted his answer – because I naturally disagreed with anything that seemed worth disagreeing with – but now I think it could be right. Well, partially right (because I still like at least partially disagreeing with things).

The reason I think it’s only partially right is because it’s an Old Covenant answer to a New Covenant question. (That’s not actually true – it’s not a New Covenant question- but I couldn’t think of any other way to articulate the fact that it answers a question without regard to Jesus). If Adam introduces the problem of nakedness, surely Jesus, the second Adam, does something to alleviate it?

Christ crucified is Christ exposed, naked, put on display for everyone to see. The metaphorical covering that Adam and Eve embrace is totally undone in Christ’s death. The veil is lifted, the curtain is torn, and we no longer have to live in the shame of our exposure. We don’t have to be afraid of God seeing us because He does see us and it’s OK.

The problem is that nobody believes that. Or at least, nobody lives like that (by nobody, I mean no Christians). We don’t treat others as if our nakedness isn’t shameful. We don’t treat ourselves that way. Whether it’s because of social mores or just convenience, we find it easier to cover up. I know I do.

Another friend’s parent said something that I’ll never forget, because it’s so very true – we all have things we’ll take to the grave. It’s weird to consider that. It’s weird to think that there are things I’ll never know about even my closest friends and family. It’s weird when I think that there are things they’ll never know about me. Which gets back to the idea about the nakedness thing being partially true.

See, we don’t live without shame. It may be a failure on our end – maybe we should embrace our nakedness – but it may be the problem that comes up a lot with New Covenant stuff: already but not yet.

Maybe we can experience a level of nakedness now that wasn’t possible before Christ but we can’t yet fully be exposed. Based on what I know of myself and others, that seems pretty true.

So I guess I’m going to call this one a draw. For now.

DJP

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