Last week, I posted a blog about a movement towards authenticity, towards being real and showing your true self – the self God created you to be.  There has been an amazing response; women have reached out and told me about what they’ve been going through, about how they cover up and why they cover up.  I’ve been told to continue spreading the word and encouraging.  But today, I want to talk about why it matters.  Authenticity is a very broad term.  It can mean being genuine.  It can mean being brave enough to show your makeup-less face when you really struggle with the raw picture.  It can mean admitting to a friend what you have been going through.  It can mean telling another about the battles you’ve faced to help get them through their battle as well.  And that’s the part I want to focus on.

Women empowering other women stems not only from encouragement and being a cheerleader, but also from getting down to the nitty-gritty and saying “hey, that eating disorder you’re facing, I’ve been through that.  I understand.  And I’m here.”  It’s staying up late with a boutique owner because they’re this close to quitting not only on their job, but their dream.  It’s letting people see your flaws in all aspects because that makes you human.  It’s admitting mistakes and honestly asking for forgiveness.  Women have the power to be so influential, so caring, so understanding, and so incredible together, but first we have to be authentic.

I was a completely different person a little over two years ago.  Plagued with trials of circumstance, my soul felt heavy.  It became panic attacks on the train or randomly at the bar.  It became needing a drink (or five) right when I got home.  It became angry and uncontrollable outbursts towards family members that didn’t do anything wrong and were simply trying to give me grace.  It became starving myself.  It became depression.  It became hating everything and everyone I came across.  And I had no idea how to fight it.  It was a nasty, multi-faceted beast that would come back to haunt me in the fall and winter.  I couldn’t even identify where it came from.  I didn’t know why it was happening or why I was like this; I only knew the pain.  Oh no, I didn’t share any of this at the time with anyone out of my inner circle.  There were too many demons and I had an image to uphold.  I was the farthest thing from authentic.

But what if I had shared sooner?  What if I had reached out and been real about my pain.  Maybe I wouldn’t have suffered for a year and a half.  Maybe I could’ve found help sooner.  Eventually, I realized I wasn’t being myself and I sought therapy and seriously sought God.  The therapy helped my pinpoint where my pain was coming from and helped me to control my thoughts.  My God restored my soul and set me free from my pain…and the idea that I was alone and had to hide.

When women send me messages about what they have been going through, it is a truly courageous step in reaching out.  Those women are why authenticity matters.  Women struggling with addiction, insecurities, perfectionism, mental illness, poor marriages, eating disorders, the not-enoughs, terminal diseases, and everything in between.  Anything that isn’t in alignment with what God says about you, it is why authenticity matters.  Because if you realize that you are the way you are for a reason, but you aren’t celebrating the way God made you, then something isn’t lining up.  You can have the confidence to ask for help.  You can take those steps, as big or as little as you need, toward resolution and healing.

Authenticity is called brave because it’s rare, but it should be normal.  It should be celebrated and encouraged.  It’s not only about leaving behind the compulsion to dress up, Photoshop images, and presenting an image online; it’s being authentic in person and relationships too.  Authenticity is a destroyer of shame.  And anyone who has experienced shame knows that it’s about time to kick it in the teeth.  As we continue to encourage genuineness, realness, and rawness – to ourselves and others – remember the why behind it.  Remember that motivation has to be authentic.  Reach out – and be available to be reached out to.