• Dana L. Butler

Lizard Skillz: Part 3 [Some Practicals, and How to Be Authentic Without Sharing Everything]

It is impossible to offer genuine presence to others if I am simply an assortment of roles.  Often we wear our personas like masks, each for the correct occasion.  The performance is so well-rehearsed that we fail to be aware that it is a performance.  But it is. -David Benner, Sacred Companions

Hey friends, today I just wanted to offer a few brief practicals on this whole subject of dropping the chameleon super powers and laying down our masks.  If you missed parts 1 and 2 of this mini-series, here ya go: I Have Lizard Skills: Part 1 [On Authenticity and Heart-Safety in Jesus] I Have Lizard Skillz: Part 2 [How to Give the Greatest Gift Possible] So, in the spirit of practicality, here are some ways that I feel the Lord has given me to “check myself” when I’m in any kind of a social situation where I might be tempted to whip out my ol’ stand-by chameleon super powers.  These may or may not be applicable to you, so please just take them as examples.

  1. I’m smiling right now.  Is it genuine?  Fake?  Forced?

  2. I’m nodding my head, maybe saying, “Uh-huh” as this person is talking to me. Am I present?  Engaged?  Or is my brain somewhere else?  Am I going through the motions, or genuinely listening?

  3. Am I sharing my authentic, honest heart with this person?  Or holding back because I want to be seen as “having it all together?”

  4. Am I secure in this moment?  Confident in who I am in Jesus?  Or am I looking for ways to prove myself as I’m in conversation with others?

  5. Am I acting out of obligation?  Or out of security and genuine love toward those around me?

  6. Am I comparing myself to those around me?  Or confidently okay with being exactly who I am?

Again, your personal “chameleon warning signs” may differ from mine.  The key here is to ask the Lord to highlight to you your own symptoms that you’ve donned a mask, to be aware of what the red flags look like for you, and then continue to ask Him to heighten your awareness, in the moment, of when you start to slip into chameleon mode as you’re in conversation with others.

When in-authenticity creeps up on me in the midst of a social situation and I become aware of it, I find myself needing to hit my mental reset button: I need to remind myself of who I am, and Whose opinion of me really matters, anyway. I often mentally withdraw from a conversation for a few seconds, or even take a couple of minutes and get into a corner (or bathroom!) by myself to re-center my heart on the truth, to ask Jesus to help me settle back down inside, into Him and into my true self.  He’s faithful in those moments to step in and bring a peace and settled-ness to my heart, like a breath of fresh air that enables me to confidently, peacefully, and authentically reengage in whatever conversation or situation I had previously been involved in (in which I’d previously been involved?  Weird.)

When I walk into a situation where I know I’m going to be tempted to don my mask(s) (a.k.a. any situation where I feel insecure or out of my comfort zone), I often pray beforehand, something like this:

Father, help me to deeply abide in You in as I navigate this [meeting, event, social gathering, church service…. you fill in the blank].  Make me aware of moments that I slip into not fully being myself, being some other version of me.  Continually whisper to my heart, reminding me that You have accepted me and called me Your own, that I don’t need to be anyone other than myself because I need no one’s approval but Yours.  God, expand Yourself inside of me even now.  I want to fully surrender to You, to being who You created me to be, in this moment, in these interactions with others.  I want to be settled in You and comfortable in my own skin.  Teach me, Father.  
Help me rest in You, and help me love those that you put before me not out of a place of needing approval, but out of a place of confidence and security in my identity in You.

On a slightly different subject, I’ve struggled in the past (and still do at times) with not knowing how to be authentic and drop the lizard skillz, while at the same time using discretion in exactly what personal information is shared, and with whom.  And I just want to say this to you all:

Being genuine and sharing the gift of your honest heart, your true self, with those around you does not equate to never withholding any information, or sharing everything that’s happening in your personal life or your heart.

We should feel completely free to use discretion and discernment in what information we share, and with whom. I absolutely love how David Benner explains this truth:

“Being genuinely me means being genuine.  This means that what I say, I mean and believe.  It also means that what I show, I feel.  It means not pretending.  Being genuine does not mean communicating everything I feel or think.  But it does mean that what I do communicate, I genuinely feel, believe, and think.”  [From Sacred Companions; emphasis added.]

We can trust Jesus to guide us in learning how to be our genuine selves, how to give the gift of our honest heart at all times, while using discretion in when we totally bare our souls, and when we don’t. He is the ultimate Protector of our hearts, and I just have to say it again –it is He who holds our hearts gently and puts our broken pieces back together when we share our authentic selves and our hearts are not handled well by our human, fallible brothers and sisters.

He is trustworthy, and our true identity is wrapped up in Him.  And it’s out of this place of knowing who we are in Him, and trusting Him as our source of true heart-safety, that we can live free, wildly alive, and one hundred per cent engaged and real with those He puts before us.  We can only live well, and love well, when we live from this place of freedom. And, like I said before, this is a journey.  Not somewhere we can arrive, but a continual process of surrender and transformation.  I am so committed to this adventure with Him, and the incredible thing is that He’s more committed to this process inside of me than I am! And I can lean back and rest in His commitment to me, knowing that I don’t have to figure myself out or make transformation happen in my own strength.  He who began a good work in me will absolutely be faithful to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.  (Philippians 1:6) I get to put one foot in front of the other, hand-in-hand with Him, and partner with Him as I learn to lay down my chameleon super powers.  There is nothing more freeing than learning to live this way! Be blessed, friends, to know Jesus intimately as your Source of heart-safety, to be deeply rooted in your identity in Him, and to live free and love confidently out of that place in Him.   AND, on this Good Friday, may you find your worth, your value, in the blood of Jesus, shed for you, that is continually speaking a better word over you (Heb.12:24) .  You are His, bought with a price.  And we who once were far away have been brought near.  praise Him!! (Eph. 2:13) Thank you, friends, for your trust and your presence here.  They bless my heart.


As always, any thoughts you’d like to share are more than welcome!  

What insights is the Lord giving you into your own masks and chameleon super powers?  

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