What is real? Really?
It was a question that presented itself after I realized I had watched an entire sermon from Max Lucado without realizing he wasn’t actually there. He was on video. How in the world did I not know he was only two-dimensional?
REAL: Actually existing – not imagined or supposed
It got me thinking, I am really here, but am I being real here?
REAL: Not imitation or artificial; genuine.
Is it possible to be real, yet not be really real? Possibly.
To my defense, I can be entirely clueless when it comes to things such as technology. I blame it on the 80’s. I received a public education during a time of higher shoulders (as in shoulder pads) and not necessarily higher education. It was a time when the metric system inundated schools to replace the standard measurement. Made sense since 10 is easier to calculate than 12, but America stood firm on the principle of laziness.
Around this time I took my first and only computer-programming course. The monitor was the size of a large microwave with black screen and green letters. All I remember is the teacher giving us sequences and codes for something I have not a clue. Could be he was also clueless.
To this day, my biggest computer success is in the form of copy and paste. Still I am grateful. No longer would we ever need carbon paper and typewriters again.
It is suggested the precursor to the computer curser was invented years earlier–during WW2 at the hands of a mathematical genius. At least, according to the movie, ‘Imitation Game, whose tagline was: Behind every code is an enigma
ENIGMA: a person or thing that is mysterious, puzzling, or difficult to understand.
Based on events of a dark time in our world’s history, when an enemy attempted to exterminate an entire race of people, this story delves into the behind-the-scenes mission to build a device to break the unbreakable Nazi codes, and win the war. They say the war concluded a few years earlier because of this invention.
I’m still clueless.
Maybe I’m too focused on breaking the code to myself. Would the real Josie Barone please stand up? In this self-seeking quest, I’ve been known to take one too many personality tests to break down my identity, and solve the war of understanding me.
Usually the questions reveal a strong percentage toward certain characteristics. Yet, one still eludes an accurate assessment no matter how many times I take a version of the test. Am I an ‘E’ or an ‘I’: an extrovert or an introvert?
Could be the problem lies in an authentic answer to be accurate.
- People can rarely upset you
- You are often envious of others
- You rarely worry about how your actions affect other people
- You feel superior to other people
Which answer is not entirely true? I am certainly not telling you.
It is said the genius behind the device in ‘Imitation Game’ was a man who had some secrets of his own. Unfortunately, a spoiler alert, as the ending credits roll, we see his own hand ends his life.
So, how does a man who had so much potential end up in such a pitiful condition?
I would suggest the man in the movie attempted to keep the code to his true character under wraps, as it was detrimental to his livelihood; but his covert portrayal was detrimental to his life.
AUTHENTICITY: Genuine. Real. Not fake or copied.
Where do we imitate a persona at the expense of authenticity?
Saul skewed his initial authenticity test, and it was detrimental to his livelihood:
Read: 1 Samuel 10:22-24
Before carbon paper and typewriters there was the scribe. This copier penned a few sentences in 1 Samuel 8, which may have led to Saul’s hidden condition: the people demanded a KING.
Instead of God being their ruler, they desired a copy similar to the world around them. And, God gave them what they wanted.
So here is Saul, a male of high stature on the exterior: a head taller than the rest, who was catapulted to top ranking of Israel in one quick swoop. Interestingly enough though, he went missing at his inaugural ceremony held up in baggage claim.
On the outside was the specimen of perfection the people thought would be the answer to all that ailed. Yet, underneath this remarkable DNA was a contradiction to his character.
Perhaps his internal baggage held inadequacy, insecurity, and ‘Poise’ pads to relieve the incontinence brought on by extreme fear. Not fear from enemy attack, but more from his inferior interior.
And, actually his initial knee-bent reaction was an authentic representation to his true heart condition.
Perhaps his thought scenario in the moment went something like this:
Run! Wait, I have nowhere to go. Hide! Where? Oh, here, behind the big Louie Vuitton. I don’t think I can do this King thing. I am not worthy of such a responsibility. I am scared. What if they realize I am not as good as I look? I have no idea what I am doing. I am a pitiful mess.
What if he hid because did not feel good enough? I cannot be entirely sure, but he could have.
We do know when he’s found in this low state, instead of admitting inadequacy, we see him standing up front and center.
May I suggest he compromised his authenticity to uphold his reputation by stuffing his issues down deep? And, authenticity was replaced with image when he chose to imitate a persona of “all together”.
What happens when our own insecurity and vulnerability collide? We either lean in toward authenticity, or we accessorize with an appearance.
It’s ego which keeps us from bending in desperation.
It is a dangerous to go from, “I’m not good enough”, to, “It’s all good” without delving into the reality of honesty. Sometimes the term ‘fake it til you make it’ creates a bigger phony of oneself.
I love Brene Brown’s description of authenticity:
Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It is about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.
When I realized I was attempting to keep myself under-wraps, it was not baggage, but sunglasses that called me out. It was a moment when I was offered a position at a church to be their children’s minister:
Me: “We can’t hide in a small church.”
Hubby: “Well I’ll wear sunglasses.”
Why in the world did I say what I said? Was I really hiding? At the time, I was at my most visual, yet my insecurities were deep, and I would share only bits and pieces of myself to settle the instability within.
If I were completely honest, I felt insecure–inadequate for such a responsibility. Afraid to fail, yet embarrassed to admit my frailties. Deeper still, issues of unworthiness kept others externally close, but inwardly at arms length—out of fear my baggage would be shown.
This maneuver didn’t work for Saul. Unfortunately, he became an actor bent on appearance with a tragic Hollywood-type ending. Sadly, his trajectory could have been entirely different had he just been real with God.
I wonder, had he exposed his deep-seated heart issues instead of hiding behind baggage, sacrifices, manipulation—I wonder if his tumultuous emotions of rage, manipulation and jealousy would have diminished as his heart aligned with God?
I can only wonder.
For me, two years after the sunglass incident, after leaving my position in a pitiful mess, I spent months in my closet on the floor. Stripped of all pretenses, I poured out my heart to God. I remember saying at one point, “I am tired of being good.” Tired of trying. Tired of the fragmented façade of fine and good and okay.
I’m not entirely sure, but I think I felt His breath escape into a deep sigh of relief as he wrapped His arms gently around me, saying, “Good, now come here my child.”
Authenticity begins with a heart that is all-in with God.