3. Project authenticity.
Last week I was preparing for the first meting of a playgroup and brunch my husband and I host for new and expecting parents. I was frantically cleaning, working hard to put my best foot forward, and, if I’m honest, to create the impression that I have it all together—even if it only at the eleventh hour. My sister, however, reminded me that the goal of this group was to create a space where we could come together and share our real lives, not to provide a platform for my perfectly cleaned home. That gentle correction was what I needed to recall that true community doesn’t judge, it commiserates.
As I’m writing this at a local coffee shop, a large group of mothers with their babies have gathered to talk and offer each other support. I can overhear them talking about their struggles, their joy in their little one’s latest achievement, and admitting to being weary and needing help. Their transparency is met by an understanding round of “me too” at each turn. They’ve provided another well-timed reminder of the power of authentic community and the gift of knowing you’re not alone. Instead of projecting an unrealistic (and untrue) standard, my authenticity can be a gift. It can be the perfect opening for someone else to finally be able to sigh with relief while saying, “me too.” I want my community to be able to push me to better things, but this cannot happen if I’m unwilling to admit perfection has eluded me. As leaders, we have an opportunity to let authenticity to remind others they’re not alone.
My husband frequently reminds me that nobody is as critical of me as I am of myself. I’m striving to remember that, although I’ve never needed God’s grace more, he still has more than enough to get me through. In a weird way, maybe this life season filled with under eye concealer and the song “We are the Dinosaurs” competing for limited brain space is a gift. It’s not only forcing me to come face to face with the fact that I can’t do it on my own, but it’s providing (many, many) opportunities for me to share that with others. I’m a walking billboard for God’s strength and power, because goodness knows that’s the only thing getting me through. And coffee. Lots of coffee.