photo by erica burrell

as i talk to student after student this week, one thing becomes clear.  as the term ends and colleagues comment at how the students loved my class, the thought is crystallized.  and as misbehaving students sit one after the other in my office to discuss their decisions, this reality shines through.

we are all afraid of being who we are.  and we long for someone to tell us that who God created us to be is exactly who we need to be, regardless of any other thought, pressure, or understanding.

a great thing about working with college students is that they are right smack dab in the middle of figuring out who on the planet they are.  the beauty of doing this in a Christian environment means i can speak to the core issues without dancing around creation, spiritual fulfillment, and eternal purpose.

the rave reviews of others, of my work, my teaching, my relationships, always causes my head to shake.  the one reality underlying everything i do is this: i have finally accepted who God created me to be, am finally forthcoming and honest about it, and am making life decisions based on that.  and in that, i am comfortable being completely honest–i admit to my students that 6:30am devotions as a campus is not my favorite time of morning, nor is the method we use my natural way of studying the Bible–but i can learn different ways and follow different structures.  i am honest that, though students in conflict with standards is a rich opportunity to help them learn, it is not my favorite thing.  and i am honest with others about the joys and heartaches of the work that we all do.

because of that honesty, i find a steady stream of people dropping in my office every day.  students, staff, faculty.  we laugh, we cry, we made snide remarks and build inside jokes that are eventually shared.  we’re witty, nutty, caring, and heartbroken.  a life of honesty is rich, vibrant, and hard.

living in pure honesty–with self, God, and others–is so hard.  hard because it means being real about your own foibles, struggles, and preferences.  it means being vulnerable.  it means asking for what you want and standing up against wrongs.  at times it feels like living as a live wire, constantly feeling, constantly evaluating.

but with that live wire comes a depth of understanding about this life and the people in it that cannot be found behind masks and images.  when the external is the only consideration, the richness found in each of our internal lives is lost–and we all become some sad photocopy of what we are “supposed” to be rather than the vibrant artistic work of an imaginative, brilliant, incredible God who designed us to be so much more than sad photocopies.

commit yourself to shred the photocopy life.  let go of the self-imposed expectations of others.  root yourself so deeply in the God who created you that a life lived in any other state than pure authenticity repulses you.

we fear that our honesty will drive others away.  instead, the deep, deep longing we all have for that level of authenticity will actually draw others closer.  and as you live in genuine honesty, it will allow others to do the same.

it all begins with you.

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