While I was in New York last week, I had the chance to meet up with a friend from college late one night after I saw a Broadway show. I wasn't sure what to expect from our time together, but it ended up being one of my favorite parts of that trip, all because our conversation was some of the most real stuff I've been a part of in a long time. This was a girl that I hadn't seen or really connected with (apart from mutual likes on Instagram) in over five years, and yet we so easily and freely shared some of the deep, hard stuff in our few hours together. And all I can say is that it all just felt so good and so right.
If there is one thing that I've learned over the last few years, particularly while I've been living in Nashville, it's that true authenticity is absolutely key to the best kind of relationships, and some of my closest friends out here are the ones that I am able to be 100% real with. They know my good parts and they know my crap, they embrace my quirks and my weirdness, and they know too many of the thoughts that I should probably keep to myself... and they love me anyway. Why? Because authenticity breeds authenticity; when one person chooses to be real and show both the good and ugly sides of themselves, the door is then opened for others to do the same. This means less hiding, less feelings of isolation, and a hell of a lot less faking, which is something that needs to be celebrated.
What I keep going back to from my time with that NYC friend is the necessity for vulnerability, honesty, and trust in any close relationship, especially in the face of a world clamoring for the perfect social media post (complete with the ever-ironic #liveauthentic hashtag). This means being true to your story, your feelings, and your heart, and not being afraid of the potential of rejection in sharing those things with the people around you. Life is beautiful and hard, and as fellow human beings -- and especially as followers of Jesus -- we need to be willing to dive into the nitty gritty of life with one another, because it's in that place that we will all flourish. When we make the decision to be honest and vulnerable, we have no idea how our willingness to be real may impact or influence those around us. Authenticity is a domino effect, and I hope that you choose to believe that being true to yourself and your story really does matter.
So let's be real.