What does it really mean to be authentic? And why is that beautiful? My favorite definition for that which is authentic is made to be or look just like an original.
So I am a woman; a human being. If I am authentic I am made to be and to look like an original. Who was I made to look like? I believe I was made in the likeness of God. My body, soul, mind, emotions, life, art, Facebook posts all have the capacity to look like the original.
This belief informs my truth that my body is a temple. It is priceless. It was designed to be alive for a set of years and to live out a wildly beautiful purpose. It is to be cherished, nurtured and invested in. It is worth a lot because of its unique design and the contents inside it. It is valuable because of the specific purpose it has, for the years it will walk this earth.
This understanding informs how I choose to spend my time, money and energy. And for me that means;
Spending thousands of dollars over the last 10 years on organic, local and seasonal whole foods.
Spending hours looking at tags to see if an item is ethically made in the USA.
Spending 3 years volunteering my creative and professional skills to launch a Health & Wellness start up.
Spending thousands of dollars on essential oils and non-toxic body & beauty products.
Spending hours meeting with spiritual directors and wise counsel.
Spending hours fostering relationships
Spending hours working out, dancing, running and stretching.
Spending my creative energy toward making the world around me more whole, more peaceful, and more like its original design.
It also means having weekly sabbaths, going on seasonal retreats, and taking yearly sabbaticals.
It has also meant
Letting go of friendships that have become toxic.
Having raw, honest, vulnerable conversations.
Speaking my truth and being rejected.
Forgiving those who break my heart.
Owning my addictions and the consequences of my choices.
All of this is authentic for me because I’m getting to know more of my original designer. I’ve been getting to know God as my Father. My relationship with Him defines everything about me. I would be lost without Him and would not have the energy to do the work that I do without His love and mercy.
So how do you actually live out Authenticity?
Spend your money on what you value. If you make over 30k a year you are already in the worlds top 1% wealthy! Use your wealth to vote towards brands, products, systems and people you value.
Spend your time on what you value. How you spend your time may look different than your friends or peers. That is okay, that usually means it’s authentic to you.
Invest in people who challenge you. Friends or family who simply let you exist are not real relationships. Their kindness should lead you to repentance and their truthful words should always bring freedom.
Expect to ruffle some feathers. When we are more true to who we are designed to be, it shifts the people, places and processes around us. Trust the tension and learn to embrace the mystery. Trust that what is best for you is really best for those around you.
Seek to understand mercy. We really don’t know how to truly love on our own. Self-love is part of the journey, but I don’t think it’s the whole picture. The whole picture involves us surrendering. Who are you surrendering too, and why?
Receive & give nurturance. The ability to provide emotional and physical care is powerful. When you learn to receive it from God more openly, you can more graciously give it. That may look like exploring new emotions for the first time. Or deciding to spend an extra hour each week preparing your food so you know what is going in your body. If you’re in the flow, and your emotional and physical needs are taken care of, you can nurture others.
Sarah Shreves is a lifestyle photographer for conscious brands. She works with companies and publications who realize that their product, their marketing and even how they fill their office space tells a story. Sarah is honored to be a part of the large cultural shift towards what is sustainable and thoughtful, and creates contemporary images that are rooted in timeless truths.