Authenticity is a gigantic buzzword these days. We are all trying to be authentic all the time, and we are all judging everyone else for how well they are doing at it. For some of us, authenticity comes naturally. For others, it is a learned skill, and one that we struggle to put into practice.
It is a worthwhile pursuit. Authenticity holds hands with vulnerability and walks us down the path towards our true selves.
But I wonder if it is enough.
We treat authenticity like we are pirates on a quest for treasure. Like the pursuit of finding it and spending it is ultimate purpose of our personhood.
I am coming to believe that authenticity is only one a portion of our longing. It is not the treasure, but the map. It is the thing that can lead us to what we are really searching for, deep down in the pit of our souls.
There’s an important distinction between authenticity and intimacy. Authenticity is about me. Intimacy is about us.
They are connected, to be sure. True intimacy cannot come without authenticity. But intimacy also requires more than that.
Intimacy asks not only that I trust you with my authentic self, but that I provide space for you to trust me with your authentic self. Which means I will sometimes be the one put my stuff out for you to see, and other times, I will put out empty hands so I can hold onto your offering.
Intimacy requires not only authenticity, but also humility, love, and sacrifice.
Intimacy does not come easily. It is cultivated by energy over a long period of time. It involves failures and frustration as we engage in the messiness of life together.
Yet isn’t intimacy what love looks like? To know and be known? To lay down our lives for each other? To push away fear with compassion? To be truly with one another? To trust and forgive and encourage, over and over and over again?
People will fail us and we will get hurt. The cultivation of intimacy will not be easy. But let’s have the courage to try.