Living authentically requires vulnerability. An understanding of self that goes beyond the surface level of things.
To be authentic, you have to know who you are. To be authentic, you have to first face yourself in the mirror.
I have been learning what it means to be authentic, to live authentically, and the truth is there is no ‘one size fits all’.
Each of us have been so uniquely crafted, created in an irreplicable way, that to try to live like another is to kill ourselves slowly.
I remember the year I started my healing journey. I remember that it did not feel like a journey at all, just another day with a myriad of questions at the forefront of my mind. I had to answer some hard truths. These were truths that I was certain would die with me. Stories that I was determined to take to my grave. I never planned on telling a soul. However, to be authentic, to live authentically, you cannot live in half-truths. I could not accept only parts of me or parts of my story, I had to acknowledge and accept it all.
My story is marred with trauma, pain, and tears. Having been sexually assaulted by multiple men and verbally assaulted in many ways, I did not want to identify with those parts of my story. I wanted to believe that those experiences happened to someone else, someone who wasn’t me. I never wanted to associate that person with the person I thought I needed to be. I did not want to be a victim. I was terrified. But, who am I without my experiences? Who am I without my pain? Who am I if parts of me are missing? I had to accept what was, in order to embrace what is.
“There is a story of me in you that I want others to see” (God). I do not know where this quote originated from, but I love repeating it to myself. I could not have imagined that there was something good that could come out of trauma. I did not know that pain, when given to God, could be made beautiful in due time. The truth is, time does not heal all wounds, time simply lets things fester. Intentionality heals all wounds. Intentionality allows for focus.
So there I was, facing the question of ‘Who am I?’ I wanted to run to the easy stuff, the surface labels; daughter, loyal friend, hard-worker, sister, just to name a few. But is that all that I am? I looked a little deeper. I am stubborn, smart, creative, a team player, I have a career. Yet, did these capture all that I am? I had to go deeper still. I stalled. Deeper was a place I had never been before. It was too real, too raw, but who am I? I needed to know. Refusing to explore those parts of me meant that each day I had to keep a tight lid on the vault of pain so that they didn’t spill out. Refusing to explore those parts meant that each day was like walking through a mine field, because there were too many triggers to keep track of. Refusing to explore those parts meant I was killing myself slowly, from the inside out. Until the day I allowed myself to go to the depths of me.
I allowed myself to dip my head underwater and I trusted the Holy Spirit to guide this exploration. I opened up the vault of pain, and exposed the hidden parts to light. In the depth, I had to admit out loud to myself and those around me; I battle with depression, anxiety, panic attacks, migraines, trauma, heartbreak. I put up a façade but most times I am scared to be hurt so I keep others at arms length. In the depth, I started to embrace the reality that I was not a perfect porcelain but an art piece riddled with marks and cracks. In the depth, I met the little girl within that was still hurting, I met the teenager within still looking to belong, I met the young woman who just wanted to be able to accept herself and find peace, I met the woman struggling to hold on. In the depth, I saw all of me. In the depth, I embraced all of me. I accepted all of me. In the depth, the healing began.
I expected to find a victim. I expected to see only broken pieces. I expected to be riddled with fragments of a life that could have been. I expected to always feel like a used rag. I thought the vault only contained unbearable pain, bitterness, anger, and all the ways of being that must be kept hidden. But what I found was surprising. Within the vault, in the depths of it all, I saw my pain, I saw my trauma, but I also saw a character like no other, a masterpiece. I saw the manuscript of a beautifully written story called ‘my life’. At my most vulnerable, I found profound answers. My scars had become my armor. My weaknesses had become my strengths. At my most vulnerable, I found a victor.
Who am I? I am a warrior, a survivor.
Who am I? I am a rebel with a cause.
Who am I? I am resilient, unrelenting.
Who am I? I am strong, courageous.
Who am I? I am enough!
Now I ask you, who are you? Are you willing to find out?
Are you ready to go beneath the surface to find out?
“There is a story of me in you that I want others to see” – God.
Will you let God guide you into your depth?
"Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous- how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Everyday of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed" (Psalm 139: 14-16, NLT)
Bible Hub. Online Bible Study Suite, 2004-2016, biblehub.com. Retrieved from https://biblehub.com/context/psalms/139-14-16.htm