Be Authentic

I will never again be who I am not!

Todd Beal

All word, thought and deed requires two self-directed questions: “Am I doing what is right: why? Is there a better alternative: why?” Thorough self honesty will always give the best answer; through this, one nurtures and grows the authentic self. Apart from this, you and I will always emulate, portray, and therefore be who we are not.

The real self, the real you, is not who or what you think you are, what you think or feel, or what you do; the real self is you but is held accountable for these things. Over time however, we gradually shift our sense of identity away from who we are, and instead, toward what we do, what we accomplish, and our public image. This is like building a mock storefront for a Hollywood movie. It expends fewer resources, is less time-consuming, and requires far less work to construct than the authentic structure. It looks real, it convinces the audience, but give it a good shove and the whole thing falls down; nothing behind it remotely resembles what the façade leads people to believe.

We are not what we do or what we accomplish. We are not our public image. When we forsake who we are in favor of building a mock storefront – career, public image, prestige, possessions, financial success – life will eventually do what life naturally does. It will appear out of nowhere and knock it down, revealing to our self and the world that in fact there is nothing behind it – no truth, no substance, no self-honesty, no humility, and no regard for others – just our real self, the now-fading and stunted person we forsook long ago.

If instead, we build up who we are on the inside – our character, morals, ethics, our heart, our eternal soul – the outside naturally grows out of something real, something with substance. Who we are to the world and what we do within it is no longer a convincing storefront, forever hiding what lies behind, but the outer representation of who we really are, inviting others to open a real front door and say hello to the person who lives inside.

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About Todd Beal

I love truth and its facts. I love thought-provoking conversations that give both the other person and me a better understanding of a particular topic. I love to find answers to life-long questions; answers that let me see things for what they are instead of what they seem to be. I truly enjoy being in the midst of a group of people where all individuals are joining in, where everybody is enjoying the company of each other. I relax in the company of individuals who are competent yet humble. I like to catch myself doing or saying something ridiculous and then laugh my head off. I enjoy my church and being involved.
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15 Responses to Be Authentic

  1. Beautiful thought. I believe that the “authentic self” you describe is that part of us that is the offspring of God. No matter how disreputable our “storefront” gets, no matter how deep we let ourselves get stuck in the quicksand of this world, that core self cannot be destroyed. Repentance and the acceptance of grace, by choice, remain possible because of that untouchable core.

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  2. > “If instead, we build up who we are on the inside – our character, morals, ethics, our heart, our eternal soul – the outside naturally grows out of something real, something with substance.”

    Two immediate thoughts on this. Firstly when God chose David he told Samuel “Look not on his countenance or his height . . . for the Lord sees not as man sees. Man looks on the outward appearance but the Lord looks at the heart” 1 Samuel 16:7 Secondly, Jesus spoke much about the heart, saying it was what came OUT of the person, from the heart, that determined who and what he is.

    For many years I tried to change my heart – to change who and what I was – but it was hopeless. I could not “build up who I was on the inside”. I remained the person I was and no camouflage was good enough. When I accepted Christ as my Saviour HE changed me. I was (as 2 Corinthians 5:17 says) a NEW CREATION. I was changed on the inside and that changed my whole manner of life. As I allow Him to control my life, He continues to change me (Ephesians 4:13) molding me into His own likeness. It is NOT MY doing, but HIS work within me.

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    • Todd Beal says:

      True, and well said. However, going back to authentically building up the person who lives on the inside, we are not simply a receptacle for God, a willing moldable sponge. We are not just a willing beneficiary of God’s transforming power. We have a mind, a heart, a spirit, a soul, and a body. All of which, according to the apostle Paul, require sober vigilance and introspective study (personal growth) in order to continually and willfully realign our will with God’s so that we can better serve him and others. It is the conscious preparation of both our self and others for eternity. If we have no knowledge of our personality, our thought patterns, our emotional tendencies, our personal strengths and weaknesses – about which Paul adamantly speaks throughout all his writings (Acts, Romans, his letters, etc.) – our personal relationship with Jesus is severely limited and so is our relationship with our family, friends, and acquaintances.

      Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commandments”. This is most impossible to do if we have Jesus in our heart, yet disobey him through our willful ignorance of bad thought patterns, our willfully ignorant attempt to control others and/or manipulate them by playing on their emotions and weaknesses, and through our refusal to take a look inside our self and ask, “Did I just, for the sake of truth, turn that person against Truth – against God – because of my indifference to my personality.” A personal relationship with Jesus and others goes both ways; it takes two participants to have a relationship. Regardless of how much I love someone, if I refuse to see and understand how my behavior towards that person affects him or her – emotional assault, offensively blunt and domineering words, inconsiderate actions, selfish proclamation of truth – because I believe that Jesus will take care of it all and I don’t need to take an honest internal look at exactly what he is taking care of, that makes me lazy. I am saying, “Jesus, you are all powerful and I need do nothing except accept you at all times, despite the fact that you gave me a sound mind to understand where I please you and where I fall short.”

      If my mind is not fully engaged in my walk with Jesus Christ by continually searching out my motives, my behavior, my thought patterns, and my emotional tendencies – I inevitably slander his Truth, contradict my personal testimony, and turn others away because I willfully remain ignorant of the very person Jesus died on the cross to save – me. What a travesty that, for the sake of truth, I check my mind at the door of forgiveness and throw it back in God’s face, “God, this mind that you gave to me is weak and I refuse to believe that you require me to strengthen it, to use it in understanding myself, to build myself up through your strength and wisdom. I know that you made me in your image (my mind, my spirit, my emotions, my personality) but I consider it worthless. I refuse to believe that I am in any way responsible for understanding how I am made so that, in turn, I could better serve you and all other people whom you also made in your image. God, I see no reason, and therefore refuse, to do my part in our relationship. I therefore require you to do it all without my participation.”

      Time and again, scripture states that God the Father, God the Son (Jesus Christ), and God the Holy Spirit are one, yet are three distinct persons that intimately know each other through and through. We either misunderstand scripture or reject it when we think that even though we are made in God’s image, we are not responsible, not required, to know our self just as he does. This is why many a Christian man ignorantly tramples on his wife’s feelings and gentle nature – domineering both her and his children – and then wonders why he gets no respect while his wife is off seeing another man and his son is in jail for assault. This is why many a Christian woman ignorantly manipulates her husband and vies for selfish control in her marriage, and in the end, wonders why he wants to divorce her; she brokenly says, “I am the victim and you are mistreating me. I just want what’s best for both of us. What I do, I do because I love you.” This is also why the obnoxious “preacher” stands on the street corner spewing out words that quote truth, but through his hateful spirit turns people away from the very truth he is hollering about. This is why Jesus told the Pharisees, “You honor me with your lips but your hearts are far from me.”

      This comment, the one I am now writing, is the whole point to this whole blog and essentially boils down to this: We are made in the image of the absolute of absolutes, the source of all things, God, and through honest and personal submission to his will, his wisdom, his power, his glory, his love, we not only are capable of understanding who we are and how he designed us, but are in fact, scripturally held accountable for doing so.

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  3. Todd — A big Amen to that, I was very moved to read it. If we are truly children of God and thus joint-heirs with Christ (Rom. 8:16-17), there is something very special and powerful about each of us. We may be the “dust of the earth”, but Christ has paved the way for us to inherit the kingdom. We can’t get there without him, but we can do much of our own free will to move along the path. The thought that God wants me in his kingdom is the greatest of comforts. Theres’ a bit of scripture from my tradition that sums it up: (God talking to Moses) “For behold, this is my work and my glory, to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. (Moses 1:39). If that is God’s mission statement, there can be no greater comfort. We have a friend with infinite power and endless mercy whose very purpose is our success.

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    • Todd Beal says:

      Thanks Michael. I feel so strongly about the necessity of knowing our self. I believe it passionately deep within my heart. I ache sometimes for my fellowman to understand what a great privilege it is to know our self and build it up through our creator’s infinite power.

      Regarding your sentence “We can’t get there without him, but we can do much of our own free will to move along the path”, not only do I agree but what you are saying is one of the constant themes throughout the Bible. Time and again scripture emphasizes a freewill choice in accepting or rejecting God. Of course, just as both you and “meetingintheclouds” said, we cannot exercise our freewill to build up the inside apart from Christ – we can try, but the results are purely cosmetic. However with him in our heart, the Holy Spirit guides us into all right ways, providing we are consciously alert to his prompting and remain open to following his instruction.

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  4. Todd,

    I agree with the genesis of what you are saying. If we look at St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans, we can see Paul is teaching that it is really the “doctrine” (teaching) of God, in both law (moral law) and gospel, that alone brings us to a saving and personal regenerate state. (Rom. 1: 1-5, etc.) And as I believe Romans 7: 13-25, is teaching this even and especially in the depth of the Christian soul/spirit. For there it is a man quickened, and made regenerate, but also still under or before the Law who “knows” the I of himself. But from 7:25 thru Rom. 8:1-3, etc. So as Luther said every Christian is Simul Iustus et Peccator – Simultaneously Sinner & Saint.

    It is also to note, that Calvin says even in the First issue of the Institutes (1536), that “Nearly the whole of sacred doctrine consists in these two parts: knowledge of God and of ourselves.” And in the last version of the Institutes 1559/60, he says, (1.)”Without knowledge of self there is no knowledge of God, and (2.) Without knowledge of God there is no knowledge of self. And then in chaper II, he says.. “Piety is requisite for the knowledge of God. But he also says that “Actual godlessness [self alone] is impossible.” But he writes: “Men of sound judgment will always be sure that a sense of divinity which can never be effaced is engraved upon men’s minds.” (3.1)

    This is rather quick, but presents both Holy Scripture I believe, and also the teaching of the Reformers. Of whom I follow in the main, both Luther and Calvin…as many of the other Reformers, etc.

    Yours,
    Fr. Robert

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  5. Lance Ponder says:

    You asked for feedback. I would not have responded to this post, but since you asked I’m willing to give you what you requested…

    //All word, thought and deed requires two self-directed questions: “Am I doing what is right: why? Is there a better alternative: why?” Thorough self honesty will always give the best answer; through this, one nurtures and grows the authentic self. Apart from this, you and I will always emulate, portray, and therefore be who we are not.//

    I’m all for self-evaluation, but these questions beg for a self-centered approach to life. If the answer to the first question is yes, then what’s the point of the second question? Intellectual honesty is liberating whereas intellectual dishonesty is a sign of slavery. The better question is whether you’re being honest and if not, what is binding you? Do you need deliverance?

    //The real self, the real you, is not who or what you think you are, what you think or feel, or what you do; the real self is you but is held accountable for these things.//

    I guess I’m just a dumb Indiana farm kid, but that sounds like pure psychobabble mumbo-jumbo. God judges our actions. God is righteous. We are called to judge actions in righteousness, though not to be judgmental. So, yeah, we’re accountable. But the rest of that sounds like double-speak.

    //Over time however, we gradually shift our sense of identity away from who we are, and instead, toward what we do, what we accomplish, and our public image. … nothing behind it remotely resembles what the façade leads people to believe.//

    So then, are we our ideals rather than our actions? If ideals and actions match that’s when we’re authentic. If our ideals and actions do not match then we’re hypocrites. I do not feel that you’ve identified or defined “who we are” and you need to do that before you make a comparison to what we do.

    //We are not what we do or what we accomplish. We are not our public image.//

    Maybe. Maybe not. That depends on our honesty. Jesus said it isn’t what we put in our mouths that makes us unclean, rather what comes out. James explains that what is on the outside extends from what’s on the inside. The heart drives the tongue and the tongue is like a small rudder that steers a great ship. It seems like what you’re driving at here is that the “real” self is in the heart. Unfortunately that’s reading between the lines, not the lines themselves. Is that the point?

    //When we forsake who we are in favor of building a mock storefront … life will eventually do what life naturally does. It will appear out of nowhere and knock it down, revealing to our self and the world that in fact there is nothing behind it … just our real self, the now-fading and stunted person we forsook long ago.//

    In other words, a day will come when we can no longer hide from the things we’ve done. You’re doing a fine job of building up tension – getting the reader to beg for a solution to the increasingly obvious problem you’ve revealed (or constructed). Sorry, I’m a bit cynical.

    //If instead, we build up who we are on the inside – our character, morals, ethics, our heart, our eternal soul – the outside naturally grows out of something real, something with substance. Who we are to the world and what we do within it is no longer a convincing storefront, forever hiding what lies behind, but the outer representation of who we really are, inviting others to open a real front door and say hello to the person who lives inside.//

    In other words, if we are honest with ourselves then our actions will reflect the “authentic self.” At this point, reflecting back on the preceding paragraphs, it seems like you’ve been trying to make me feel I was not authentic before, but you’ve just handed me a cure. As a cynic, I’m now pretty annoyed that I’ve been made to feel bad about myself for a condition I either do not have or I’m in such denial about that you’ve utterly failed to convince me.

    Maybe its just the approach, or maybe its the way you’ve couched your points in psychological language, but frankly if this were the first chapter of a book I’d put it back on the shelf at this point without another moment of guilt. I know, as a writer, how much that sort of response hurts. I know a lot of my own writing fails to suit others as much as it suits me. I know that when God reveals something to me it might just not be for everyone (or anyone) else. Your grammar is fine. The sentence and paragraph structure is good. You express yourself with eloquence and style. I just don’t bite on the worm of substance here. Remember, you asked for this critique.

    Finally, you also asked for a critique of your responses to others’ comments. I rather enjoyed your replies much more than the post itself. I think the replies reveal more about you and your convictions. I feel better about you based on your comments than I do your post. I’m glad I took the time to read them because that has helped.

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    • Todd Beal says:

      Lance, I cannot thank you enough for your honesty and thorough critique. I have been seeking this information for years.

      I see your point on many of the objections you raise. In many cases (not exclusive to this post) I haven’t made myself clear, which is likely the reason for many of the disagreeable comments; the majority of which are by individuals with a true heart. I say this because I have read their personal story and/or testimony (including “meetingintheclouds”). I don’t doubt their Christian walk for a second. However, I know in my heart that if I properly explain what I know to be true (“psychobabble mumbo-jumbo” or not), most people would say “Oh, I get it!”, and would not ever see life the same (including you believe it or not).

      You have identified my major weakness; I sometimes lack the practical terminology to explain what would normally stick out like a sore thumb if properly identified. As time permits, I will address each of your points of critique and post it back to this site for further review.

      Finally, thank you for not only showing me where I lose my audience but also where I hit the mark. I appreciate the time and effort you put into answering my request; I will not forget your kindness. Sure, critique stings sometimes but isn’t that what truth is about, showing us a better way?

      Once again, thank you!

      Todd

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      • Lance Ponder says:

        You’re very kind to accept my remarks this way. I genuinely did mean it to be helpful. Thank you. Tough skin is a wonderful blessing, don’t you think? 😉

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        • Todd Beal says:

          Absolutely. But again, even though I am thankful for this long-awaited information, the critique hurts; I am human just like you. But with that said, I would rather hear truth that hurts than a lie that feels good. Joyfully accepting truth is our only option if truth is our only goal. I choose truth.

          Thanks again Lance.

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  6. Lance Ponder says:

    PS – I welcome constructive criticism of my posts as well. You’re always welcome to tell me I’m all washed up, whether in regard to grammar, style, or content. ~_*

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