Authenticity

Sometimes I don’t like to blog because I know that not as many people will read it unless it’s accompanied by the perfect graphic or if the layout of my blog doesn’t scream “Jackie.” I get so bogged down by the design aspects, of which I am good but not great nor do I have the right programs. I get so bogged down by my blog not being pretty enough that I forget that my words can be pretty. Because I am not a cutesy, artsy person who always chooses the right instagram filter. I am not always wearing the latest designer or fashion trend because I like what I like whether it’s popular or not. Wanting to dress in your own style and not just what’s popular can be REALLY tough. But I do it. There are many fads that I never participated in simply because I didn’t like it for myself. There were ones that I did participate in because I like it. I own and often wear a pair of Chacos. I like them, they’re comfortable and they work well for my flat feet.I know it seems like I’m rambling but my rambling has a point.

It is SO important to be authentic. To be genuine. People want to see the real you. They don’t want to see the perfectly polished version you put forth on social media. There’s a reason people like celebs like Zooey Deschanel, Jennifer Lawrence and Taylor Swift. When you see them in magazines, tv, social media, etc. you get the feeling that you could be friends with them. We feel that way about them and other celebrities, because they are genuine. They are real.

Wanna know something fun? Nobody likes it when you or I are disingenuous (aka insincere or fake for the friends that I know who get irritated at me for using big words in conversations).

People want to see the real, raw, messy you. This is me giving you permission to share with others that you’re not that great sometimes. This is me telling one of my favorite youth Sunday School teachers that the job search is really hard and it’s really frustrating instead of my stock answer of “it’s going good.”

This is not me giving you permission to only complain though. Celebrate the wins when you have wins. Celebrate the little wins as well as the big ones. Yesterday, I texted my sister telling her how excited I was that I finally made it through a barre pilates class without starting to black out. That’s a victory. That’s progress. It’s small but small things are important to you. Sometimes the highlight of your day is getting a good parking spot or getting in a short line at Walmart. And that’s okay. That’s more than okay. That’s awesome. Celebrate it. Own it.

I’m learning lately to be okay with who I am, strengths AND weaknesses. They all make up who I am. They all offer me room for growth and ways to glorify God. A few months ago I wrote in my journal how I wanted to be like a couple of famous writers who are known for their words. I wanted to be big. And I just had this overwhelming assurance from God that he didn’t need me to be big. He needed me to be small. He reminded me that my role models were small before they were big and that now was my time to be small. So here I am. Living in a small state, in a small town, in a small bedroom learning to be okay with being small.

I don’t know if this makes much sense to anyone but myself but I think it’s important to share what’s on my heart sometimes and this is on my heart. In the spirit of authenticity, I am sharing this without a picture and I am letting you know that I had trouble spelling authenticity because I am a HORRIBLE speller. Seriously, I would have had a lot more trouble in English classes had I been born prior laptops and spellcheck becoming the standard practice.

Is anyone else going through a season of life that seems counter intuitive to culture? Let me know!

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Value.

Have you ever noticed how when you’re closer to God, you literally see the world thru a different lens? It’s one of those things you forget both when haven’t been close to God in a while and when you’ve been faithful for a while. You’re only aware of the lenses in that twilight space.

I am in that twilight space and it’s kind of astounding me.

One of my favorite tv shows is called Community. It’s this quirky tv show that’s occasionally self aware and is constantly talking about other movies and tv shows. It also takes place at a community college that somehow gives out four year degrees… Don’t question it! It’s perfect for someone like me who enjoys consuming media. However, it’s not the cleanest show. In fact, it can be offensive and irreverent, though, always in a clever way.

I started rewatching it this week because it felt like a good ending to college.

In the first scene of the show, main character Jeff is having a conversation with Abed. It ends like this:
Jeff: “Now I see your value, Abed.”
Abed (as Jeff walks out of hearing distance):That’s the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me.

And it hit me. At our core, that’s what we’re all looking for. We look for it in every interaction and every relationship. We’re secretly, subconsciously waiting for someone, anyone, everyone to say: I see your value. You have value and I have noticed it.

But the thing is others aren’t here to give us value. If they were, we’d be in a sad state. Think about it. You’re more concerned with others affirming you than you are about affirming others. With a few exceptions, everyone else is doing the same thing. We get so wrapped up in our heads that we quit worrying about others.

As a christian, you should seek to find your value affirmed in Jesus, the one who said I value you, you so much I am going to subject myself to torment so that you can avoid it.

Your value is in Christ and nothing else. You are valuable because he loves you and saved you and gives you value.

Your value doesn’t rely on your talents or how smart or how pretty or how strong you are. Your value doesn’t lie in your ability to make friends or your relationship status. Those things are good but they do not give you value. And when we choose to find value in these things, we cheapen Christ’s sacrifice and give away some of our real value.

You have value. It is given to you by Christ. Acknowledge it. Revel in it.

And while I don’t think we should find value from others, maybe we should start acknowledging the value we see in others.

Tell her she is clever. Tell him he is passionate. Point out the good things you see in people. People are often blind to their own strengths and weaknesses, be their mirror. See value in people. See value in everyone.

Maybe Some Questions Don’t Have to Be Answered

Last semester, I had an existential crisis of sorts. A religious one. It was ignited by lots of factors. A philosophy class that raised the “Question of Evil,” coming down from the mountain post summer missions, not having a small group/mentor/ spiritual community I felt comfortable being open with in Starkville to name a few.

In addition to the question of evil, I wondered if God really existed and if he does, does he matter and care, and furthermore, why am I studying PR at a college in the Bible Belt. Basically I was questioning what’s the point of all this.

So I did what any good christian would do in our “hide your scars” and “walk it off” culture. I shut myself off. To God. To the Bible. To Church. To other Christians. I became “too busy” for BSU.

Until one day I had a conversation with a friend whose beliefs differ greatly from mine. Suddenly I realized that even through my dark place of seperation and doubt, I could not completely stop loving or believing in Christ and his salvation. And I found that I agree with most of what the Baptists believe. So much so that to hear someone down Christ or Christians hurts and saddens me.

Then I realized, I needed to tuck my tail between my legs and go to church and pray and read my Bible. EVEN WHEN I DON’T FEEL LIKE IT. Read more about what C.S Lewis has to say about that here.

I still don’t have the answers and I probably never will. I am not a great theologian who can convince you to become a christian like me. Even if I was a theologian, only Christ can do that. I realize that I could just be a crazy, superstitious person but when I pray, stuff happens and if you want examples, just ask.

I don’t believe in believing in God just because I’d rather be wrong and go nowhere when I die than not believe and be wrong and go to hell. That’s not what true Christianity is about. It is about believing something crazy. It’s called faith for a reason. I will probably always have doubts but thru it all I love Christ and am overwhelmed by his love for me.

All I know for sure is if our world doesn’t have a creator and savior, then I’d rather be crazy and happy than sane and miserable.

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky[a] proclaims the work of His hands.Day after day they pour out speech;
night after night they communicate knowledge.There is no speech; there are no words; their voice is not heard.Their message has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world. Psalm 19:1-4Image