I literally started this conversation with myself six months ago, and it’s just now making meaning in my head.
It all started with genuine. That simple word.
Words have always been a fascination of mine, so when the word “genuine” got stuck in my head, it took writing and talking it to death until I could put it to rest.
I didn’t know for a while, but for some reason it stuck.
It was a great conversation starter, that’s for sure. I would just ask people what they thought of when they heard the word genuine. I got lots of awesome answers, even though I had no idea where those answers were leading.
A lot of my search pointed to genuineness being a character trait that is refined in us, like wisdom. We don’t just wake up one day and we’re wise, but it’s a process.
Think of it like gold. Gold is precious, but it must be purified in order to increase in value and in purity. So gold undergoes something called refining. It must be melted completely down to liquid so that the impurities can rise to the top and be scraped off.
God does something very similar for us. He sees when it’s time for our character to be purified, and he breaks us down, melts us, allows for heat and pressure to bring impurities to the surface. It’s humiliating really, when our sin can’t be hidden anymore. But it’s a good thing, because once we’re broken and our sins are brought forth it lets God scrape them away, purifying His gold, His prized possession, making us more and more like Him, making us more and more genuine.
I see that God is breaking me down, and I shouldn’t be surprised. I prayed for it. But I’m just now seeing that my desire to be broken came from my desire a few months ago to be genuine.
There was a reason for genuine, and even though I saw those two pieces of the puzzle come together, I know there’s still so much more.
Is it really possible to possess Christ-like genuineness without first dying to yourself, without being broken first?
If genuine truly means “possessing a claimed character; authentic; without hypocrisy; not counterfeit; real”, then our genuineness comes from denying our hearts of wrath and truly possessing the identity and authenticity of Christ.
Genuine doesn't look like waking up tomorrow and just deciding to be genuine so people will like me or tell all their friends, “Man, Elizabeth is such a genuine person!” Nope, that’s not it. A truly genuine person has a transparency that lets people see the messiness of the battle--the complete train wreck days that we have because we're humans trying to develop the character of Christ. Most days we just completely forget that we can’t do it on our own.
So genuine is not being perfect; it’s forgetting often to let God do the fighting; it’s being humbled when we realize our mistakes; it’s confessing to one another in order to build the thick bond of community; and it’s accepting the offensive gift of grace that is so overwhelming sometimes it doesn’t feel like the Love that it truly is.
So to be genuine doesn’t mean trying to be genuine at all. I believe it comes with living the really hard parts and the really good parts of life side by side, and not trying to hide either one. I believe it’s looking at God all the time, with eyebrows raised in awe and with eyebrows furrowed in confusion, trying to make sense of this Person who is so much more than our hypothetical eyebrows can express. It really is letting the messiness of living for Christ come to life and come together. It’s not pretending to have it all together, or even somewhat together. It’s not being just vulnerable enough to placate those the Lord has called you to live in community with, but baring it all.
And the hardest part about that for me is being vulnerable with myself.
So write, talk, think, pray about the things you’ve been too scared or humiliated to think about before. God wants to refine it all. He will carry on that good work, and He will complete it.