Living Life with Authenticity

Before I start this post, I have something to say of the utmost importance.

If anyone ever tells you that you put too much mayonnaise on your sandwich, don’t be friends with them. You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life.

Being authentic seems to be a popular trend today. But what does it mean to be truly authentic? In a world of impossible expectations and false realities, it can be hard to determine the real from the fake. Click here to learn what living authentically really means.

(Author’s note: I asked my significant other’s younger brother what I should do a post about, and he said that everyone needs to hear that. I promised to oblige him.)

But that’s not what this post is about. (If you’re bored and want to read a brief history of mayonnaise, you can go here.)

I am not an athletic person. In elementary school, I came in last in every single home school track and field meet race I ran (which was way too many, in my opinion). Grade nine gym class was a horrible class which I’m sure I passed because of marks I received for effort. In college, I was playing volleyball with the youth/young adults group from church when my football-and-rugby-playing brother yelled across the court, “Emily, you have the coordination of a jellyfish!” I have always preferred a good book to a game ball.

The problem is, I want to be good at sports. I want to be athletic and strong and fit. And I really want to love running. I just…don’t.

Needless to say, I own five or six pairs of gym shorts, purple running shoes with neon green laces (I love them so much), track pants, yoga pants, leggings, and gym shirts. I own a couple “athletic” hoodies and a large pink-and-grey gym bag that I use as a duffel (I love it also). I can pull off the athlete look pretty well. I like these clothes because they’re comfy, and I am totally a no-fuss, minimal-makeup person when it comes to my wardrobe.

But it sometimes strikes me that when I’m running errands in track pants, runners and a hoodie, I look like an athlete to the average person. I sometimes feel like I’m lying to people about who I am.

But how often do I do that no matter how I’m dressed? How many times do I look like I have it all together, when I really don’t? And how many times do I look at someone else’s Instagram—a place they post their best pictures—and wish I had their life because it’s so perfect?

We need to stop being concerned about how we look and focus on being imitators of Christ. Click To Tweet

Sometimes we are far more concerned about looking good than we are about being imitators of Christ. As Christians, we often get so set on needing to live the proper Christian life that we forget why we’re following Christ in the first place: because we’re broken. I need God’s grace. I need His love. I need His wisdom because I don’t have it all together.

Being genuine doesn’t mean posting no-makeup selfies or using the hashtag #tobehonest. It means not being afraid to admit that we don’t have it all together.

Living authentically is important because it tears down barriers in our relationships. When we are honest with others about our weaknesses, we get to enjoy friendship at a whole new level. You can also encourage others way more when you are being real. Not many people want to be told it’s going to be okay by someone who has never had struggles. Everyone has struggles; it’s just a matter of sharing. When I’m going through something, it is so great to talk to someone who has gone or is going through the same thing. When they share that with me, I am so encouraged. It reminds me of how great God is.

To be a true encouragement to others, you need to live authentically. Click To Tweet

Sharing struggles also glorifies God. When you are dealing with something and relying on God, you can share that with others. You don’t need to have all the answers, but when people see that you aren’t perfect and that you are 100% relying on God to sustain you, that bears witness. It’s saying, “Look, I really don’t know, and I fail in this area all the time. But God’s grace is bigger than me, and He will give me the wisdom and strength I need. He’ll do the same for you.”

Finally, we need to focus on being instead of appearing because that’s how God looks at us. He can see right through us and is not fooled by our appearance in the least bit. (1 Samuel 16:7.) There are so many Bible verses speaking about how God looks at the heart, and you can’t fake that.

Today I want to encourage you to live genuinely. Doing so will bring you closer to others and make you an encouragement to the people around you. God bless!

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Confessions of a Problem-Fixer

As women, we often want to help others. But what about when our help isn't wanted? Is it possible to help someone TOO much? Click here to find out!

I’m the oldest in my family, with two younger brothers. Naturally, this meant I could boss them around. It’s my birthright, just like being a pest in the youngest child’s birthright. I’m not sure what the middle child’s birthright is; though in our family, the middle child has a lot of freedom to just say what he thinks, since no one listens anyway. (Sorry, bro. That’s just the way it is. But we still love you.)

Anyway, since I was the older sister, I always knew best. I was the teacher when we played school, the mom when we played house, and the designer when we played Lego. And when something went wrong, I also knew the best thing to fix the problem. I loved helping—saving people. I was the girl for the job.

But then something weird happened. My brothers didn’t want my help. And not in the “I’m-a-man-now” way, but they just didn’t want help. I could have the most logical solution and eagerly offer it, but they would just tell me to stop talking. (Literally.) I didn’t understand. I was being nice! They didn’t even have to ask me, I just did it because I was trying to help.

I just shrugged it off as them being dumb (and maybe I was a bit bossy in the delivering of that help). But as I got older, I realized that it’s okay if people don’t want your help. It doesn’t always mean that you give bad advice. You could have the best solution and people still want to do it themselves. And that’s okay. (Side note: We need to be careful not to become control freaks, ladies. But that’s not what this post is about.)

While wanting to help others is a good desire (provided your motives are good) is a good thing, it can have its own set of problems. And these problems have very little to do with the other person and a lot to do with you

This is a bit different for guys than girls, but girls are emotional creatures. How many of us have had friends that are always upset about something? You know, the ones who you go to hang out with and end up being their counselor…every time you see them. I mean, we all have difficult seasons of life and just need someone to talk to, but there are some people who are always down about something, from boys to their job to the weather to that bad prof. So, naturally—being girls—we jump right in and help our friends. We listen while they pour out their hearts, offer a solution and talk the issue to death three times over. This is pretty standard female behaviour, and it’s a good thing to listen to and support our friends.

But if we’re not careful, we can take on others’ problems. This can be really dangerous.

I tried it once. I had a friend who talked to me a lot and without meaning to, I took on every one of her day-to-day problems and it drained me. I was emotionally exhausted, stressed, and not myself at all. She became the focus of my life in many ways. I felt emotionally responsible for making sure she was happy.

I even had a Bible verse to back me up:

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. (…) Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load. (Gal. 6:2, 4 & 5)

This was the passage that I turned to. This is why I took on others’ burdens. I did this out of love, which is the crazy part. I wanted to be there for my friend. Some people told me to just stop talking to her, but I just didn’t feel right about that. Aren’t Christians called to show sacrificial love?

My study Bible had an interesting footnote regarding those verses. It says the following:

Burdens. I.e., the excess burdens that we need to share with one another, in contrast to the load (different Greek word) in verse 5, which means the normal amount each must carry for himself. (…)

So basically, as one friend of mine put it, each person has two kinds of burdens. First, there’s the backpack. Everyone has a backpack—daily responsibilities, temptations and issues. Then, in different seasons of our lives, we sometimes have boulders. Boulders are the things we need support for; the things we can’t handle on our own. Things like being diagnosed with cancer or a loved one passing away. It’s a good thing to help each other with the boulders (burdens). It’s not okay to take someone’s backpack (loads).

One night I was doing what I should have done long before my emotional stress got to this point: I prayed about it. Not just for my friend, but also for me. I was just honest with God. “God, I am not benefiting at all from this friendship, which is okay. But it’s more than that. I am completely drained by this friendship and I know it’s not healthy. But I still need to show her love! I want to make her happy. I can’t just stop being her friend because that isn’t love, but I can’t continue on like this.”

Well, God answered. He revealed to me that wanting to make people happy is a good thing. But when you making people happy means that you no longer can make God happy or making God happy takes a back seat to making people happy, there’s an issue.

It’s okay to want to make everyone around you happy, but only when making God happy still comes first.

Make God happy first; making everyone else happy is just a bonus. Click To Tweet

I had been carrying my friend’s backpack when I was only called to be helping her with her boulders. I’m not saying that if people have heavy backpacks we should tell them to get over it and pull themselves up by their bootstraps. We can help without taking their load by praying for them. I tried to help my friend, but the truth is, I can’t help her with her backpack. It’s hers. The only person who can help her with her backpack is God.

When I realized this, it was like all the responsibility had fallen off my shoulders. I was relieved. I gave Christ her backpack and focused on my own—putting Christ back into his place in my life. Once I did this, I was able to enjoy healthier friendships with everyone in my life.

Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ (Matt. 22:37 – 39)

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How to Deal with Emotions in a Healthy Way

As women, we were created to be emotional creatures, and that's not a bad thing. But too often, we handle our emotions badly and hurt others. Click here to read about how to deal with emotions in a healthy, God-honouring way.

Story time. I am by no means from a male-chauvinist family, but men and women definitely have defined gender roles in our house. My brothers cut the grass, I clean bathrooms. We appreciate each others’ differences and the way God made us. We have also had some crazy dinner table conversations. One in particular I’ll never forget.

My next-youngest brother and I were both in high school at the time. I don’t remember what led to this conversation, but my brother just looked at me and very bluntly said, “Em, seriously. Name one good thing about being a girl. There’s nothing. You have to wait for guys to ask you to marry them, make supper every night and give birth.” Thanks James. You are so sensitive. I literally could not think of an answer for him. What’s good about being a girl that a guy would actually agree with? “Yeah, well, you get to wear pretty things!” I eventually volunteered. From the look on his face, that was a weak point.

Enter my father. “I can think about one good thing about being a girl,” he said. My brother started laughing. “Yeah, one good thing.”

“Now, hold on a minute. There is a good thing. Girls are very good at expressing their emotions.” My brother started laughing. I just stared at my dad. “Dad. Being emotional is not a good thing!” I replied, shocked that my father would even propose such an idea. Where does he get this stuff? Girls are made fun of for crying at any commercial involving puppies, overreacting to seemingly harmless comments, and worrying needlessly about relationships—romantic and otherwise.

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