Cultivate the Authentic You

Roy Cochran, Monty Kelso and I just returned from three relaxing days away in the Big Bear mountains for a Grove Getaway with a fun group of worship leaders. Over long conversations in front of a blazing fire (and a few incredible new songs) , we explored and wrestled with the question of identity, "Who are you?"

A BIG question, I know.

In light of our roles and responsibilities at work, the art we produce, the childhoods we came from we, whether we are a husband or wife, mom or dad, the friendships we have, the expectations of others and the cultures in which we're immersed, we discovered that the question of identity was well worth our best time and attention.

Some of us, too many of us, don't take time to consider who we really are and what's needed to cultivate an authentic sense of self.

Ultimately, we explored this question in light of God's love and His relentless pursuit of us. Elizabeth Hunnicut mentioned that there is so much talk of "Us pursuing God..." But the truth is, she said, that God is always the one pursuing us.

And so, if God always pursuing us, we also explored our part in allowing this wild Lover to actually catch us. How might we cultivate a life and authentic sense of self that might allow for this Lover's embrace?

In juxtaposition to the wondrous reality of God pursuing us, we also talked about the weight of what works against this transforming truth; arcane ideas, misplaced myths, outright lies, and unhelpful spiritualized pablum still rampant in the Church. Silly, stupid notions like...

  • It's not about you! (True to extent, but God created Adam & Eve on purpose for a purpose...it was all about God AND Adam AND Eve.
     
  • Don't get too prideful. Ya know, Satan used to be a worship leader. Puh-leez! (Thank you pastor-elder-Church Lady for parenting me.)
     
  • He must increase and I must decrease. Was John the Baptist really saying, "Poof! I must dissipate and disappear!"? Much more attractive is Jesus' choice to choose and spend time with his friends.

As our time away came to end, we wondered how we could best cultivate what is life-giving. That is, the life of God already in us and the promise of who we are becoming.

When you are authentically you (that is, who you are as a beloved son or daughter of God), in that place, people will find you to be a safe person, a loving person, a wholly present person.

Here are some of the thoughts and ideas gleaned from the Getaway -- how we might cultivate who we are in Christ living in the light of God's love as sons and daughters -- and the creative work that just might flow from that authentic place.

I hope you're encouraged in some good way.

  • Being with one another to be fruitful: Most fruit trees are placed in orchards to cross-pollinate one another.
  • Take notice of the things that give you energy and cultivate THAT.
  • Community: Who are the 3-4 people who know you well... we're talking real and raw.
  • Nature: How does the beauty of nature cultivate what is beautiful in your life?
  • Heart-felt conversations.
  • Identify what is absolutely essential in your life. Be ruthless and eliminate the non-essentials.
  • Ask yourself, "How do I live wholeheartedly?"
  • Enjoying what I know God enjoys me doing. Watching a movie. Being with friends. Reading a book.
  • Sleep.
  • Prayer.
  • Exercise.
  • Sabbath.
  • Don't focus on the product or final outcome. People, process, product... in that order.

A final thought stirred in me as we talked about the things, practices and disciplines that we find life-giving, "When you are authentically YOU (that is, who you are as a beloved son or daughter of God), in that place, people will find you to be a safe person, a loving person, a present person."

Cultivating the authentic you is a field you will tend for the rest of your life. Whatever you find life-giving in the love of God today, pursue that in the intimate knowledge that God is pursuing you.

Question: What are your thoughts on how to cultivate the authentic you? What is life-giving to you?

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