I’m learning to let go of what keeps me from being authentically me.
How do I know what or who is the “authentic” Mark Smeby? I have one answer which says I have been created in the image of God. I have another answer which says that my authenticity is best displayed when I am expressing love, living in peace, and grounded in faith.
I love Galatians 5:22-23 which says, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”
Take a listen to me reading Galatians 5:22-24 from The Message translation…
These beautiful characteristics are a sign of holiness…or whole-ness, which to me, is the core of authenticity. I want to be a whole person, not a divided person. That which divides me—my soul, my heart, my mind—that’s what I call sin. Shame and fear divide me, but the biggest culprit is selfishness—ego, greed, manipulation, striving.
I think about the fruit of the Spirit a lot, and hope that people are able to say that I exhibit these things. I also think about this list when I see religious people not exhibiting any of these. I’ve known too many “professional” Christians over the years who made it really difficult to see any of these qualities in them.
Here are the challenging parts for me from The Message reading: “not needing to force our way in life” and “everything connected with getting our own way is killed off.” When I am trying to force my way in life, working (i.e., scheming) to get what I want, I am hindering that good fruit from being seen in my life.
This is where I’m sitting today—in a place of wanting to surrender my desire to make sure I get everything I want out of this life. And it’s not so I can make sure I’m displaying good fruit for everyone to see, it’s so I can experience my life as God intended it—an authentic life filled with love and peace…and all the rest.
Unfortunately, I’ve become super good at forcing my way in life, and getting my own way. Even still, setting goals and working to bring them to life has brought about many good things. Good can still come out of selfish motives.
I want to live with an open-handed curiosity of what God might want to bring my way, rather than constantly working for what I want to come my way. This is the life of faith.
Up until now, I have been motivated by a thought process that says “I’ll do ________ with the hopes of getting ___________.” My therapist called this “transactional living” and it’s exhausting. The chase for something more, something else, someone else…only leads to feeling more empty when the chase is over—regardless of the outcome.
I’ve gotten my way to work enough times to know there are usually moments of satisfaction that occur, but they don’t last long. It’s like a hit of adrenaline that spikes your brain, then fades away, leaving a yearning for the next hit.
If I quit striving, I can fall in love with where I’m at now…with what I have now. I can appreciate what I’ve done, rather than judging it as not being good enough to get me where I have “wanted to go” or get me what I have “wanted to get.”
I want to cherish the peace found in the non-adrenalized places of life. It’s in these places where contentment and gratitude can thrive.
Let go of how you think it all should go, in order to receive the gift of what is.
I find beauty and guidance in this quote from Thomas Merton,
“Do not depend on the hope of results. You may have to face the fact that your work will be apparently worthless and even achieve no result at all, if not perhaps results opposite to what you expect. As you get used to this idea, you start more and more to concentrate not on the results, but on the value, the rightness, the truth of the work itself. You gradually struggle less and less for an idea and more and more for specific people. In the end, it is the reality of personal relationship that saves everything.”
Thanks so much for reading this today. These are things I want to remember, things I want to be challenged by, things I want to learn better. I write so I can understand, and hopefully in turn, help you to see your own story, your own desired journey, more clearly. That’s my hope.
I actually wrote a book about this whole idea a couple years ago called Losing Control: Finding Freedom By Letting Go. You can find it on Amazon or on my website. There’s also an e-book and an audiobook. But I’m feeling like I might need to revisit it myself…maybe even dive in a bit deeper into the topic and update what I’ve written. Might be a fun challenge.
Is surrendering control something you struggle with, as well? What are some ways that you’ve found to surrender? I hope to hear some of your thoughts!
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Great post, Mark. “Surrendering” has almost always had a negative connotation in my mind.. like I’m giving up. Now I try to thing of surrendering more like acceptance. Just accepting what IS in the now and releasing the need to change it, even it’s if it hard, or sad. That doesn’t mean I don’t take action when I see injustice in my world. But the acceptance is geared more toward myself these days, which actually feels nice.
God provides, always