Do you ever struggle with authenticity? I find that to be authentic, I need to experience grace. In other words, if I reveal my true self to you, but feel judged and condemned, then it is unlikely I will let my guard down again anytime soon. If, however, we are “real” with one another and still accept each other, then authenticity can increase.
The Control Cycle
So, then, here’s what I’m thinking about today. Maybe authenticity is really important to spiritual growth, especially to gaining victory over sin. If I’m not authentic, then I probably am going to try to control and hide my sin, which will likely perpetuate its impact on me. Lynch, McNicol, and Thrall in The Cure describe a despair-inducing “control cycle” we participate in with our sin like this: building defenses, thinking unhealthy self-thoughts (shame-driven lies), being tempted, trying to resist sin, hiding secrets, acting out, withdrawing from others, justifying behavior, blaming people and circumstances, feeling shame, and losing hope. Unfortunately, when I think I’m in control of my sin, it’s probably in control of me.
Is there hope to break the cycle of sin in our lives? Yes! James 5:16 says, “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” What if there’s power to break sin’s control in the telling? Look, God loves you and already knows your flaws. So, don’t hesitate to confess your sin to Him. In fact, we ought to tell Him what we’re struggling with before we sin. Why wouldn’t we? Is He going to reject us? No!
Now, what if you could tell someone else about your sin before you commit it? What if you could learn to confess the sin you intend or want to commit rather than just confessing the sin you’ve already carried out, with all the consequences it brings? That would be (maybe painfully) authentic. But, The Cure authors suggest it will break the power of the sin in your life. Tell someone in the first moment you recognize your vulnerability. The authors write:
“Now, here’s the incredible beauty: We can only be loved when another is allowed to meet our needs. God created us with limitations so we can be loved by others. Instead of pretending we’re ‘doing fine,’ we can give others an opportunity to love us. We experience their love as we learn to tell each other we’re vulnerable.”
Let’s Work on Authenticity
So, let’s start coming out of hiding and work on authenticity. We might have to be more gracious with one another in the short run, but we might also find that in the long run we are better people for it. I’m not suggesting you go around confessing all your evil inclinations to everyone, but I do hope you will start by finding a safe person or two you can confide in to help you break the cycle of sin in your life. And I hope you will be a safe, gracious person for others to confide in. If that happens, we will all be able to enjoy greater authenticity and experience more victory over sin. That sounds authentically awesome!