There are countless women who live as though their lives are a silent movie playing on a screen, but without a message that can be heard because they have hidden their unique voice, and therefore, have masked their authentic selves. Some men may fall into this category as well because they, too, have allowed others to speak on their behalf and make decisions for them rather than taking the reins to control their own life and choose for themselves. Many young people fall prey to peer pressure and are in the same situation of following instead of leading, sometimes being bullied by others to fit in with the crowd rather than choosing to boldly stand up and stand out in the midst of the crowd. There are adults who are still succumbing to that kind of pressure, albeit on a more advanced scale.
Rather than shrinking back or blending in with the masses just to fit in, it is time to embrace the reality of who we really are, particularly as women whose added value, voices, emotional intelligence and areas of expertise are desperately needed in every arena of life. Embracing the freedom of authenticity begins with recognizing these 4 important lessons learned from Jeremiah 1:5-8 and 29:11-13:
1. Every creation of God exists to fulfill a particular purpose. No birth was or is a mistake, no matter how horrendous the circumstances were or are. We all feel inadequate at times, but that should not be used as an excuse for refusing to move forward. Low self-esteem and a poor self-image does not serve us well. Embracing the freedom of authenticity begins when we choose to see ourselves as the beautiful inner spirit and outer masterpiece that God originally designed with all of our tailor-made quirky idiosyncrasies and unique personalities. (See Jeremiah 1:5-7.)
2. Fear must take a backseat to our destiny. We need not fear the disapproving looks, thoughts, or comments of others, or the disparaging opinions that we have of ourselves. Faith in God and confidence in the gifts and abilities He has given us will remove fear from the driver’s seat and place it behind us where it belongs. That is not to say that we will never be fearful in the future. In fact, fear can serve as a reminder that our sufficiency and dependency is to be in God rather than in our human abilities alone. (See Jeremiah 1:8.)
3. God is thinking about and desires the best for us. We need to accept that God knows us better than we know ourselves. That’s why it is imperative that we take time to know God and His plans for us (rather than just our own). The events and experiences of our past, present, and future can be used by God for a greater purpose to promote peace, health, wholeness and hope for ourselves and others. (See Jeremiah 29:11.)
4. Communicating with God connects us to the source of all wisdom and strength. A religious experience is encountering God based on what others mandate—perhaps the observance of learned behavior or a set of rules, regulations and rites of passage that are required. On the contrary, a relationship is the mutual exchange of authentic, honest communication between ourselves and God so that prayer is not just an observance during a particular time, but becomes a conversation that is not just verbal, but intellectual and emotional throughout the day as both the mind and the heart are engaged with and connected to the One who has all of the answers to the vicissitudes of life. Prayer, then, is a life-giving force that maintains and sustains us while we embrace the freedom of authenticity while pursuing purpose. (See Jeremiah 29:12-13.)