Every Monday, I’ll post about discovering genuine hope and authentic answers for living a healthy life.

Today, I’m taking the day off and giving this space to an excellent, must-read piece from my friend and colleague, Randy Thomas. This post was on his personal blog last week and I knew I wanted you to read it as soon as I read it.

I was going to pull out some of his statements to put here at the beginning to encourage you to read the whole post, but I can’t. There are too many great statements and the choice is too hard.

Randy writes about the need for and value of authentic relationships. This goes right along with the belonging need I often blog about here. Many of Randy’s statements also fit our Celebrate Kids concept of levels of friendship – choosing to share only certain parts of ourselves with certain people because they’ve earned our trust.

When we’re not honest, everyone loses. Read on….

If you are “authentic” you will attract bunch of good-looking smiley people with great teeth … maybe.
If you are “authentic” you will attract bunch of good-looking smiley people with great teeth … maybe.

Is Authentic Relationship Simply a Nice Ideal To Talk About? by Randy Thomas

If someone is proclaiming they are “keeping it real…” why do they feel the need to qualify that? I mean if you are being honest and authentic wouldn’t that be evident? And sometimes, it would seem, that people use “keeping it real” as an excuse to just be rude regarding social observations or in speaking into someone else’s life.

Actually, the “keeping it real” slogan is very 2007. It’s dated. And when it squirms around in the dust it should be stomped on vigorously. I also hope the rhetorical flourish of … “Really? I mean … Really?” will quickly end up running for its life in a similar manner. Most of the time, the person asking the “Really?” isn’t “really” wondering if you “really” mean it.

Stop fake asking “really?” already. Life is full of incredulity sometimes.

So, what is authentic? I have learned that just because a person knows how to cuss and tell really funny but really crass jokes doesn’t make them transparent and honest. Even telling their war stories from the past, or present, may seem like they are being vulnerable but … what if they have told that story a million times and aren’t telling you their current battles? … weaknesses? … joys? … hopes? … fears? Sometimes people tell the salacious bits from the past, or present, to distract us from the current state of their heart.

Not that I have *ever* done that … ::: trying to look genuine through my fake mask of innocence :::

I want to know how the events of a person’s life brought me the good fortune of meeting the person in front of me. I am hoping we can learn to know each other in the true context of right now.

Authenticity can start now by a personal commitment to transparency. In fact God calls us to live an authentic and transparent life. But deeper levels of authenticity/transparency are built over time. Being authentic takes trust. It takes investment.

Our transparency with a stranger is only going to go so far, and rightfully so. That said, I can be authentic with a stranger because my God has my trust.  He has invested in me.

Healthy transparency (guarding against dependent manipulation) with a friend is naturally going to go deeper over time as the investment and shared history grows.  Authentic friendship and community is one of the most satisfying and safe places to be. These types of relationships become invaluable and a treasure.  We honor God when we honor each other with honesty, humility, oriented toward sacrificial service, and giving hearts.

That said, being authentic means you have to deal with the crap too.  And no, I didn’t say “crap” to distract you or try to appear more hip and authentic. I used the word  crap because every friendship, situation and community will go through some crappy times.  Being authentic almost guarantees that those times will happen.  We can’t throw out a commitment to authenticity when someone lets us down or disappoints us.  Authenticity has to be intentional in order for relationships and community to last over time.  It has to be intentional in order to survive the tough times.

So, it is not enough to talk about how important being “authentic” is … we actually have to live it out before God and the people around us. I don’t think we can “make” it happen anywhere except in our own hearts submitted to God and then that outflows to the people He has placed around us.