Just Be You
As we traveled the country doing research for Lies Young Women Believe, we discovered an interesting trend. The girls we talked to said that they could only be themselves around their friends. In fact, a whopping 84 percent agreed with the statement "I can only be myself around people who are like me, such as friends my own age." Everywhere from L.A. to Chicago girls told us that they could only be their true selves with pals their own age and that it was no big deal to act like someone else entirely around their parents, siblings, youth pastor, or church friends.
It may feel normal to be different versions of yourself around different people. But there's a virtue that needs addressed here-authenticity.
Webster's defines authenticity this way:
- conforming to an original
- not false or imitation
- true to one's own personality, spirit, or character
I am afraid that if I were to compare who many young women are around their friends with who they are at home, at church, or online, they simply wouldn't fit this definition. So many young women take no issue with changing how they talk, what they'll watch or listen to, how they dress, and how they act depending on who they are with.
I get that at this stage in life you feel most comfortable around your friends. I understand that to a teenager the unique set of challenges and circumstances you're facing seem far removed from anything the adults in your life are facing (it doesn't help that our culture is constantly telling you that adults are stupid and clueless). I also understand that fitting in can be such a challenge that becoming a personality chameleon can seem necessary for survival. But none of that adds up to a free pass to be one person at home, another at school, someone else at church, and yet another version of yourself online. Regardless of your circumstances, you should just be you at all times.
Beyond being authentic, being the real you all the time is necessary to live your life with the integrity God calls us to. Do you know what the opposite of authenticity is? Hypocrisy. And we don't have to look long to find plenty of warnings against that in God's Word.
Matthew 23:28 says, "In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness."
In Luke 12:1 Jesus calls hypocrisy yeast, referring to its tendency to spread.
1 Peter 2:1 says, "Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind."
Changing who you are to fit with who you're with may not feel like hypocrisy. You may have been doing it so long that it feels normal. But trust me, it's a nasty habit that can have serious consequences. And while letting your true colors shine through all the time may seem scary, living authentically is far more freeing than you can imagine.
This is especially true for those of us who love Jesus.
As Christians, we need to live out our faith, transparently, in all circumstances. Our language, clothing, attitude, and choices should reflect our faith no matter who we're with.
If you have great friends with whom you can be totally yourself, that's great. But my challenge to you is to be yourself at all times no matter whom you're with or what you're doing. Practice authenticity. I promise, you are an original worth conforming to.
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