Smoke

wall quote

I talked to an acquaintance at a gathering about what he did for a living. He said he liked his job but not the office politics. Then, he started talking about a hiking trip he took and his entire being changed. He stood up straighter, held eye contact and got animated. I wondered what kept him from approaching his work like his hiking trip. I could definitely relate because I’ve held positions where I liked the work I did but not the atmosphere, or my co-workers, or the company culture. Sometimes, I even felt like a fraud because I knew I wasn’t being myself. Often, I was surrounded by frauds just like me.

What does it take to be authentic in all parts of our lives, not just in one place or another? What price do we pay when we’re one person at work, another on Facebook, another at church and yet another at home?

Are you smoking what you’re selling?

I read that line in a book and I started asking myself…

Are you living the way you think other people should live? Do you eat your own cooking? Or do you wish other people would drop their pretenses while you wear a mask? Do you compare and despair? Would you give a stranger the shirt off your back but never show a stranger how desperately you need a shirt of your own? Do you wish other people didn’t make it look easy as you sit back and say nothing about how hard it is? Or do you take a risk and give your opinion in hopes that you’ll encourage others to give theirs? Do you leave a penny in the penny tray? Do you make the first move? Do you say you’re sorry first? Do you make yourself vulnerable? Do you walk the path you ask others to walk? Do you live your truth and seek out the truth of others?

I think most people stay true to themselves in some areas of their lives but struggle in others. We have to set boundaries because not everyone earns the right to know all about us, especially in the workplace. But walls and boundaries are different. For me, not having walls means not judging, not gossiping and being genuinely interested in what others have to say, even if I don’t agree with them. It means respectfully sharing my opinion and not falling for peer pressure regardless of who I’m interacting with. It’s about resisting the urge to be perceived one way when I know in my heart it’s not really me.

I was struck hard today by a sense that life is too short to succumb to the pressure of perceived ridicule. I wasted so much time in situations and jobs where I found excuses to not give my all because I wasn’t confident in my convictions. I wanted to fit in more than I wanted to work for change. We risk a lot when we become the change we want to see but the reward is an authenticity that bridges all parts of our lives.

P.S. The book was Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith by Rob Bell.

11 Comments on “Smoke

  1. I just found your blog and love it! I can totally relate to Elizabeth. I am working very hard on showing the real, true, authentic me and when I am judged it hurts more than it did when I wasn’t quite myself. I know it is worth it in the long run, but not something I was preppared for. I look forward to reading back through all your posts. Thanks!

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    • Thank you Stephanie! When I feel the least authentic, it’s usually when I’m comparing my inside to everyone else’s outside. I don’t know who originally coined that phrase but I think it’s brilliant.

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  2. This is such a powerful post! I have really struggled with this in the past year or so. The more I “smoke what I sell” the more people judge who I am… and it hurts more, because it really is the REAL me they are judging. Still… the knowledge that I am being true to my self and my God trumps all of that.

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  3. Karen, Saving this post! You addressed important questions for me to answer, as my tendency would be to skip over thinking, “I have already dug that thought up.” I love this post because it brings me back to that place of authenticity (as you stated). What am I willing to do today to be authentic? I see I have plenty of growing to do. Beautiful thoughts.

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    • Thank you Lisa! I find that I have to keep these kinds of questions top of mind or else I get lost in “clutter”. We are all works in progress. 🙂

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  4. Good post – I think I wear my heart on my sleeve too much to be anything but what I am…but I do get caught up in gossip and ugliness at times and I’ve struggled to stay away and to not put my foot in my mouth…it’s a constant battle!

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