I sat across from him at the table and fidgeted a bit. He smiled with his disarmingly sheepish grin. He had asked me to be real with him….to take off the diplomat words, kid gloves and vagaries and point the sword of my thoughts and words directly at him.
I squirmed with the weight of it. Real words are heavy boots that kick down doors and open us up to vulnerability. He was my friend and deserved the real, vulnerable, open me. He deserved to hear that I thought his plan was self-absorbed and full of fear. He deserved to hear that he had become my brother and I would be sad if he stayed on his current path. He deserved these words…real ones….but didn’t get them….
Because I was afraid of being real.
He walked away from me that day not knowing – my real thoughts, my real feelings, or, frankly, my real advice- and I have regretted it ever since.
If we are to open ourselves up to covenant relationships, we have to learn to be real.
We all know this, right? We hear words like authenticity and integrity all the time. But, to live these out takes guts. Brene Brown says, “Vulnerability is our most accurate measurement of courage.”
How right is she? It’s not easy to check our need for validation at the door of our relationships and be open and honest. But it is the first skill that needs honing in the quest for covenant relationships. We need to know how to Be Real.
But how do I do that? How do I let go of the need to be “just right” and know that who I am right now is “enough?”
It starts simply, with the acceptance of your true identity.
“…you have to keep unmasking the world about you for what it is: manipulative, controlling, power-hungry, and, in the long run, destructive. The world tells you many lies about who you are, and you simply have to be realistic enough to remind yourself of this. Every time you feel hurt, offended, or rejected, you have to dare to say to yourself: ‘These feelings, strong as they may be, are not telling me the truth about myself. The truth, even though I cannot feel it right now, is that I am the chosen child of God, precious in God’s eyes, called the Beloved from all eternity, and held safe in an everlasting belief.” – Henri Nouwen, Life of the Beloved
When we begin to accept ourselves, our stories, our wounds and brokenness as part of the Beloved child of God each of us is, the courage to be real is cultivated…and the result is absolutely beautiful.
“Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.”
– Brene Brown