Becoming Authentic

Okay, confession time.

I love clean. When my house is so strongly filled with the fumes of bleach and Pine Sol that my eyes start to burn,  I get a warm, fuzzy feeling. Now, granted, that may be a high from the cleaners...but take my word for it: I really do like a sparkling house. Especially floors.

While I am sure that the men in my life still think I am a little over the top about my obsession with clean floors, I have come a long way from where I used to be. You are reading the ramblings of a woman who used to vacuum every inch of carpet in my house and scrub the kitchen and bathroom floors on my hands and knees every single day. Sometimes more than once. OCD, anyone?

I was raised in an atmosphere that put a lot of emphasis on appearance, but there was all manner of evil hiding beneath the dignified, saintly facade. I learned early on that the ugly stuff is supposed to be hidden, and I became a hard core people pleaser. The result? Someone who internalized a lot of pain and anger. It ate away at me like an insidious cancer, leaving me panicked. So then I ended up doing a lot of things that gave me the illusion of keeping a perfect house. I fell into the clutches of an enslaving lie: If the outside looks good, that makes up for the fact that the core is appallingly rotten. Enter Facade Tracy--the Queen of Cover-Up. And no, I am not referring to make-up.

By the grace of God I met someone who helped bring the pain and anger from my past into His light. For the first time in my life I was real before Him. Not that He hadn't known me before, but I have come to learn that the acknowledgement of who we are is not for His benefit--it's for ours. The discovery of His love for me--just as I was--and of His trustworthy character, changed my life.

This area of authenticity is a place God is continually working on. You would think I would just learn my lesson and be done with it, but apparently I am hard-headed. Who knew? Being honest about my past before Him was wonderful and freeing, but the clutches of the facade are long-reaching, and to this very day, its tentacles are grasping at my heels.

It is hard to be real with myself. Honestly, there are some things about me that just ain't pretty. It would be easier to pretend they don't exist and go bleach something. It is hard to be real with people. Let's face it...people can be very judgmental. We all love a good fingerpointing session. It distracts us from our own faults.

I am sickened when I realize just how much time and energy I have put into efforts that make me feel in control of my life, and worrying about what others think of me. God has been killing Facade Tracy. She is dying a slow, painful death. He is rooting out the motives behind my every action. It has been downright painful.

But I have met an interesting gal: Authentic Tracy.

Facade Tracy wants everything to be perfect at all times because that makes her feel in control. Facade Tracy does not care if her family cannot be comfortable in their own home because they fear messing up her hard work.

Authentic Tracy also likes clean...but she knows that family is more important than things. Authentic Tracy knows that she can't be a good wife, raise cherished children, go to school full-time, and write books while living in a spotless house. Perfect simply isn't on my agenda--I don't have time for it. Something has to give.

That something has turned into a dust bunny behind my fridge that is so large I am thinking about buying it a collar and giving it a name. It can be our new family pet.  

There is not an area of my life that has not come under His scrutiny. Why do I wear the things I wear? Why do I go the places I go? Why do I act and react the way that I do?

This past year has been full of hard-earned lessons. God has been teaching me that I can work till I am blue in the face, but there will always be someone who will find fault with me. And if they can't find a fault, then they will make one up. People cannot be pleased. God has also been teaching me that control is an illusion. There are some things that cannot be dominated. It would be easier to capture the wind.

I don't want to make people happy with me. I want God to be happy with me.

I don't want to be in control. I want God to be in control.

I don't want a fake, plastic life that only looks good from the outside.

I want to be real. 


Jessica said...

Tracy, you have no idea how much I needed to read this. I've been meaning to message you....
I hope and pray that you will continue just like you are now! I, too, am slowly but surely discovering that my ideas of how to please God are very, very different from the manner in which I can truly please Him. And...newsflash, doesn't involve being who certain people think I should be. It's being who HE wants me to be. As freeing as that is, it's also frightening. I'm in unknown territory. But He knows the way, and I'll follow Him.
Anyway, thanks again. God bless!

Ava Pennington said...

Oh, Tracy, how I appreciate your transparency...and the encouragement and conviction your transparency brings to me.
I think of the scene from Voyage of the Dawn Treader, where Eustice tries to scrape off his gnarly dragon hide. His attempts appear successful, but the removed dragon hide only reveals more dragon hide underneath. When he is at the end of himself, he allows Aslan to dig painfully deep until Eustice is once again vulnerable in nothing but soft pink skin.
I know that scene is a picture of salvation, but for me it's also an illustration of how I must surrender to God's daily peeling away so I am vulnerable before Him and others. This authenticity is painful as God digs deep into my facade, and I want to shy away from His sharp claws. But His way is the only way. My puny attempts to do it myself remove one facade only to reveal another. Sigh. That's when God digs deeper and I shed tears for the pain. Then I shed tears for the joy of knowing He knows me better than I know myself.

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