I love this word.  I love my friends who love this word and what it means for the band of us.   The struggle I have is that many in our society and in the church really do not seem to want this type of interaction between them and their friends.  What is it about us that makes us cower at the thought that someone knows the depth of our very hearts and souls?

I was once (yes, only once, if you can believe it) told that I overshare.  I’ve pondered that admonishment for several months now in self-analysis over the legitimacy of that assertion.  Do I overshare?  What does it mean to overshare?  Who makes the call as to what oversharing even is?

The scenario was essentially a Facebook post in a private group about what was going well for the members in establishing friendships with other men.  My accuser at least addressed me privately for oversharing because I mentioned my struggles with that, particularly locally.  I left the group for a time.  But then I returned.  Why?

Because I share my heart and words as I feel led to do so as a result of where I am on my faith journey.  Not because I have to force self-disclosure or because I think it will help someone.  Sure, I believe it may be beneficial for the one reading or hearing my story.  It is nobody’s place to tell me that I am oversharing as long as I am not inappropriate by way of discussion on sexual matters or gossip or similar.  And if someone else has a problem with me or anyone else oversharing, perhaps he or she should address that discomfort within his or her own life.  I am, I believe, comfortable in my own skin.  What you see is what you get.  However, it forces people to deal with what they see in themselves.  Many do not like that one bit.

My experience, my story, is not meant to be silenced – and neither is yours.  We have story to learn and relate to one another – to learn more about who we are and from where our worldviews originate.  I admit that I need to #BeMindFull and cognizant that my words build others up and do not tear them down (thank you, Ms. Hawks, for this gentle reminder!), and aware of how they further my own spiritual journey rather than cause me to back pedal.  I continue to work on that.  However, I will not stop telling my story because I am told, essentially, it’s irrelevant to the conversation – assuming it actually is relevant.

I am blessed to have a crew of guys that accept the best and worst of me, wanting not to silence me, but to draw me out into the open.  I am not, however, fortunate to have that locally.  I do not think that I am alone in my particular situation.  I would say that this is an epidemic, but it is probably not a terribly recent phenomenon, particularly in the United States.

I will be more aware of my presentation when I speak with others, but will not be sacrificing my authenticity to gain relationship.  Because if I hide that part of me, then is the relationship truly real?

Remember how easy it was to make friendships when we were eight?  It was a common interest in academics or music or athletics or something else.  Or a shared bus ride home from school.  So, now, as adults, we have to work harder and realize that we cannot rely on simple circumstances to bring us together.  This takes work.  Sometimes hard work.

How far are you willing to go to find a friend, and how do you know you’ve given up a part of yourself – your true self – to make that happen?

I think it’s worth it to go all out. As the saying goes, “Go big or go home,” right?  Someone will eventually accept what I offer.  Will you?

This entry was posted in Friendships, Ponderings, Purpose, Reflections. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Authentic

  1. dilemmamike says:

    With two jobs, family and church obligations, it’s hard to find the time to make friends. I struggle with it anyways as a byproduct of being a military kid. Moving around my whole life, friendships stayed pretty superficial. Getting deep happens in life group but that’s about it.

  2. It’s been a hard lesson to learn that some people really can’t handle the truth. Some of the best advice I received is to emphasize the relatable elements of anything I share. It’s taken me a couple years to learn the importance of this, and to mature in this area. I hope I’m making my way up the learning curve. I really don’t want to learn that lesson again, especially because it comes to bite you like a snake in the grass after many months or even years.
    Still, some of my deep friendships come from working alongside others. Children’s church or music ministry or prayer meetings, over time, showing up and doing what comes naturally to me. Usually given time and different experiences together, friendship begins to open.

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