By Carol Bolden
Have you ever met a child (maybe your own) who pretends to be an animal—a lion, a zebra, or a giraffe? It’s typical behavior for children under five to engage in this imaginary play while they’re exploring what it’s like to be someone else, to feel something else. This “theory of mind” they’re working on is an exploration of the idea that other people have thoughts and those thoughts can be different from your thoughts.
While this stage is appropriate for a child under five, as we mature, we hopefully move on from that stage to become more authentic adults, able to relate in authentic ways without pretense.
When life’s disappointments and hurts flood us, it can be natural to hide, to put on masks or to do whatever it takes to protect ourselves from further hurt. While this is a natural response, it’s not a healthy one. Authenticity comes from recognizing our frailties, from seeing our weaknesses, knowing that God is working in us to prepare us for His kingdom—to will and to do of His good pleasure.
Consider it a truism, but for Adventists, it’s especially important to be authentic. How else can we relate meaningfully with the world and communicate the vitally important truths we hold? How else can we have compassion for a world that hurts?
A healthy, authentic community of believers does life together, struggling with their own life issues and wrestling over truth, together. Their hearts are open and giving and the hurts they experience are recycled into the ability to show empathy for the hurting they meet on their path.
These authentic Adventists have been with the Author of authenticity, the One who knows them inside and out and loves them still. His love and compassion for them is the catalyst for their healing.
When Lot’s wife looked back at the burning city of Sodom, she was expressing her desire to hold on to her inauthentic ways. While we want to be the salt of the earth, becoming a pillar of salt accomplishes nothing. The authentic Adventist is willing to look at their life and let go of the inauthentic parts.
When the authentic Adventist fails, he/she is quick to confess, to talk it over with God, ask for forgiveness and surrender again to the One who heals. It’s the authentic Christian who carries with them God’s healing power. They know that many people desperately need the help only Jesus can give and that they could be for them the critical link to Jesus.
Like Rabbit in the book The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams, when you’re loved enough, you become Real. When we allow God to love us in all aspects of our lives, that’s when we become Real. We become authentic.
–Carol Bolden until recently provided editorial support for the RMC communication department. Email her at: [email protected]