Some days I feel a battle raging inside as I hold my tongue for fear that I will say or do the wrong thing. I wonder if I’m being true to myself. Is this authenticity? I believe in the good work behind personal development and striving to become the best versions of ourselves, but every now and again, I need a reminder that the PAUSE is the moment to ask myself some questions and lean into the One who longs to teach me how to be me.
There is an old story of the great Hasidic Rabbi Zusya (Rabbi Zusya of Hanipol). On his deathbed, he began to cry uncontrollably and his students and disciples tried hard to comfort him. They asked him, “Rabbi, why do you weep? You are almost as wise as Moses, you are almost as hospitable as Abraham, and surely heaven will judge you favorably.”
And he told them about his vision; “I learned the question that the angels will one day ask me about my life.”
The followers were puzzled. “Zusya, you are pious. You are scholarly and humble. You have helped so many of us. What question about your life could be so terrifying that you would be frightened to answer it?”
Zusya replied; “I have learned that the angels will not ask me, ‘Why weren’t you a Moses, leading your people out of slavery?’ and that the angels will not ask me, ‘Why weren’t you a Joshua, leading your people into the promised land?” ‘Zusya sighed;
“They will say to me, ‘Zusya, why weren’t you Zusya?'”
To lean into the wisdom and love of the Father taps me into the beauty of who I was created to be by the Creator of life itself. We perfect ourselves by learning and growing through the relationships we establish with others. Our behaviors adjust to the circumstances that we are in and we respond accordingly. As children, we want to please our parents, teachers, and peers, so we act accordingly for a positive experience. Those patterns develop and if not examined through the eyes of faith, can leave us always doubting and questioning ourselves.
At some point, over the course of our life, we see our responses shift, and in our search to become the best version of ourselves, we pivot and make changes. I’ve found that over the years this process has left me questioning who that true, authentic self really is. However, I’m beginning to realize that authenticity is fluid, it moves and shifts as our eyes and spirit draw closer to God. When we begin to see with His eyes and hear with His ears, we begin to realize that not everything in life can be answered. Not everything is black and white. Perspective changes the circumstances. The rain in one part of the country brings needed relief to the farmer yet is flooding the homes on the other side of the country.
Tapping into the strength, love, and understanding of God in our experiences, our brokeness, and our healing helps us to grow into the very people we were created to be so that our very lives, our very works glorify Him. That, to me, is authenticity.