What does it mean to be real? actual, true, genuine, veritable, virtual, factual, transparent, honest, authentic...
Being real became very important to me a couple of years ago when I realized that I had been living in denial for a very long time. I allowed myself to believe lies so that I wouldn't have to deal with some major issues in my life. I hid shameful things about myself in hopes that no one would find out who I really was. That way people would like me.
This whole thought process is silly because most people can see right through fake. Even if my cover-up had been successful and people were fooled into liking me, it wouldn't have been the real me that they liked, but rather the person I was trying to be. When that truth was finally revealed to me, I wanted to change.
So I decided to get real--with myself and others. I began writing on my blog about things I never wanted to even think about and certainly never dreamed I could share with other people. Through that, I learned not to take myself too seriously. I learned that people don't just sit around and think about me (good stuff or bad stuff) all the time. I began to see that admitting weakness or failure is not the end of the world.
The coolest thing was that the more real I was with others, the more real they became with me. I began to understand that no one is perfect. Even the people that seem perfect, aren't. It helped me to be able to relate to others and to be less intimidated by them. In some weird way, by sharing how messed up I really am I gained confidence.
But the confidence I gained was not in myself. The confidence was in the One who makes up for all of my failures. The more darkness I faced in myself, the brighter the Light became to me. Where sin increased, grace increased all the more. (Rom 5:20)
There was such healing (and still is) in being "real." But as with any good thing in life, it can get distorted into a bad thing. We humans are pretty darn good at that. I think what happens from time to time is that I choose to be real just for the sake of being real. It's like a reputation I need to uphold or something like that. And the problem with that is that the being real then becomes about me and my ability to be real rather than authenticity. Being real simply for the sake of being real is no better than being fake.
There is grave danger in being real as an end in itself. If being real becomes something I strive for, I live for, something I turn to in order to face things...if it becomes something that I am proud of, as if I could even begin to be real apart from the grace of God, then what I have is a very real problem. What I have is an idol.
I find it interesting that in 1 Corinthians 8:4 idols are described as having "no real existence." Further on in verse 6: "for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist."
Everything I do, including being real, must be from Him and for Him. The purpose of my very existence, my realness, is to make much of Jesus. Lord, help me never forget it.