We live in a world where words like “authentic” and “transparent” have become oh, so popular. Growing up in the 80s and 90s, I remember power-suits, flashy cars, and huge mobile phones being the status symbols that demanded respect. But these have been traded in, and now we admire the celebrity who confesses weakness. We distrust politicians who have never shown their imperfections, and we value counselors and therapists as much as regular MDs.
We are hungry for connection. We are crying out for real relationship where there is no transactional exchange, only heart-to-heart communication. We are aching to find a safe place to rest our souls where we are seen, heard, and known.
We are craving love.
But despite craving love, despite craving authentic, transparent relationships, we still fear people seeing the real us. And when I mean the real us, I am not just talking about our emotions or likes and dislikes. I am talking about the ‘us ‘that doesn’t quite have it all together. I am referring to the ‘us’ that lives with older cars, ill-fitting clothes, or a home that is certainly not Pinteresty.
As I mentioned last week, Brene Brown talks about “scarcity” and how we are wired in our culture to be hyperaware of lack, rather than success or plenty. So we look at our homes, and we see what we need to buy in order to make our houses ‘perfect’. Then we look at our cars that don’t have a Bluetooth phone connection and we want to upgrade. Then we look in our closets and we decide to forsake our boots from last winter and buy the new sassy ones we saw in Nordstrom.
But fixating on our material possessions means we are missing the mark. In our authentic and transparent world, we are truly hungering for something deeper than the latest farmhouse table or a 2019 Honda Odyssey (I am about to be a mum of 3. Yes. I dream of a mini-van!!!)
And this is not just limited to our material possessions. We treat our own spiritual giftings and anointings in the same way. Instead of sharing honestly about our weaknesses, we like to show people that we are eloquent speakers, musicians, or leaders. We like to inform people that God has gifted us and therefore, they should listen. It’s as though our accomplishments, as well as our possessions, give us authority, worth, and significance.
But the Bible says something quite different. In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul explains that, “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3, NIV, emphasis mine)
So basically, no matter how talented you are, no matter how well you can hear God, or how amazingly you move in powerful miracles, IF YOU DO NOT LOVE, YOU ARE NOTHING. If you have a massive house, a brand-new car, and a closet full of gorgeous clothes, but you don’t love, you are nothing. If you have the ‘perfect’ life, but loving people is not your thing, you are nothing but a loud, annoying cymbal.
So what is love? Love is taking off the mask of perfection and inviting people to gather around your table. Love is letting go of your fixation with your lack and allowing people close, even if they see the dirt on your kitchen cabinets. Love is saying, “You are worth the real me, not the fake, plastic version of myself”. That is love.
Just as Paul wrote, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.”. (1 Corinthians 13:4 NIV, emphasis mine)
So today, embrace your life. Whether you are rich or poor, leading in your dream career or following a boss in a dead-end job, may you love those around you. Don’t boast, don’t be proud, don’t seek to look perfect - just love. Take off the mask, let people see your home with the broken chairs, let people come close. Because people don’t want plastic, they want you, the real you.