Spiritual Authenticity

John was the apple of his mother’s eye.  And her approval and love was everything to him.  But John would sometimes steal, lie about discounts at their family owned store, and cheat people out of their money.  It wasn’t that he got enjoyment out of these things, he just felt he had to for them to survive.  He actually felt horrible but yet he continued to do them.  Everyday at dinner John and his mother would talk.  He usually kept his eyes on his plate.  Afraid that if he looked up she would see the truth of his actions.  He would occasionally whisper “Mom I did something bad today, please forgive me”.  His mother, always forgiving, never pressured him to say anything more.  This routine carries on for a while, until John starts to feel uneasy.  His mother notices and at dinner ask, “is there something wrong”.  John isn’t sure how to answer.  She pushes, John look at me.  He refuses.  She pushes again, John why do you always look at your plate and never in my direction.  He begins to weep and says “because I am unworthy”.  Ignoring John’s last statement she simply replies “I love you John”.  He covers his face with his hands and through his weeping voice begins to tell her everything he has done and all the people he has hurt.  She waits patiently for him to finish and then asks him to look at her.  He again refuses.  He’s too ashamed.  He doesn’t want to see the look of disappointment or see how badly his actions have hurt her.  And yet all she says is “John look towards me”.  He continues to weep and she continues to soothe until finally John begins to slowly move his hands and raise his eyes toward her.  She is smiling at him but he doesn’t understand why.  He just told her everything he’s ever done wrong and she is smiling.  She says, “I returned all the items you stole, I allowed the discounts you lied about to drive people to the store, and I paid the people you cheated.  I’ve already covered all your wrongdoings.  And I’ve been ready from the day you did the very first one to individually forgive each of them.  But you wouldn’t allow it.  You refused to share the real you with me.  You kept me at a distance.”  John’s mom then grabbed him into her arms and held him close.  She gently stroked his head and wiped the tears from his eyes.  John took a deep breath, exhaled it slowly, and relaxed in his mothers arms.  Despite knowing and loving her all his life.  Despite wanting to please her and talking with her daily.  Despite having, what he thought was a good relationship.  Today- John realized he could truly trust her to love him.  Not the him he allowed her to see, but the him he truly was.

I don’t typically do New Year’s Resolutions, instead I pick a word to focus on that will challenge me in different areas of my life.  Last year I chose “authentic” as my word.  I expected my growth to relate to my worldly relationships.  But, what I learned is you can have a lack of authenticity in your spiritual one as well.  You see I thought “God already knows so how can I not be authentic”.  But I’ve learned that his knowledge is separate from my authenticity.  My authenticity is about my heart not His omniscience.  And whether he knows or not, if I am not willing to stand before Him and own up to my actions, both good and bad, then I am not getting authentic with God.  And like John with his mom, I am refusing to share the real me with Him.

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