• Dana L. Butler

What Authenticity Looks Like {for me} Today

I wake up this morning, fill a couple of too-finely-ruled pages in my notebook. Out spill disorganized thoughts and heart cries, followed by infant-stage ideas for a future blog post that feels more opinionated {and therefore scarier} than my norm.

I listen to Psalm 139 a couple times through on my audio Bible, contemplating how intimately my Father knows my every interior cavern. How He sees every undiscovered place, every hidden motive. How trustworthy is His love; how tender is His leadership of my heart.

I shower, pull on holey jeans and an old tee-shirt, because today is a day for laying low with my littles and catching up on laundry.

By the time the kids and I have made it through breakfast, I’m sneezing uncontrollably, and I’m realizing these symptoms are more than just allergies. I cut myself some slack, let the kids watch a little extra TV while I sneeze and sniffle my way through the day till nap time.

The kids snooze peacefully, so I plant myself on the couch and pick up a book to do some reading, but my thoughts feel scattered.

I allow my mind to wander for a minute as I stare into space.

For months now, I’ve tried to blog once weekly (on average), and sometimes even that feels more than I can handle. So when the desire to write bubbles up to my heart’s surface, I try to wrestle it back down.

What could I say today that would be authentic, anyway? I don’t really have words right now….

But the question won’t leave me alone, so after a few minutes of further contemplation, I open my gmail (because every once in a while I journal my thoughts and email them to myself). In the subject line, I type the question, now pounding louder in my chest:

“What would be authentic for me to say today?”

Confession: sometimes this feels tricky to me, y’all. Friends who’ve read my writing for some time have occasionally given me feedback like, “Sometimes I think you still say what you *think* you should say, instead of writing from your truest heart.”

Authenticity in my writing — writing from the core of who I am — is something I’ll openly admit I’m still growing in. Probably always will be, actually.

I decide I’d better give the question some attention:

What would I say if I were going to honestly articulate the state of my heart today?

That I’m a little afraid to write again after accidentally writing 2 posts in a row that received more-than-normal-for-me amounts of exposure. That I don’t know what to say now, and it’s hard not to aim for those kinds of results again, instead of simply aiming to authentically express my heart.

That I’ve got to remember how it burned inside me a year or so ago when I came home teary-eyed from a writing date with myself — when I told Stan if all I ever do is spiral inward till I’m writing out of my truest self, if I can just make art from that place, just honestly create before the Lord – then that will be success for me.

That’s what I long for more deeply than I want numbers — more than recognition, I told him then — and the desire still burns.

I want to grow in my confidence in Him, create authentically, as an offering to Him. To let Him carve me out inside, deeper and deeper. To keep my gaze on the path ahead and my fingers interlocked with His, blinders on my eyes and a Yes, Jesus in my heart. Ears tuned to the Holy Spirit as He whispers and nudges and tweaks my heart in the places where I still sometimes miss His.

Authenticity. Groundedness in Him. This is success. This is my goal.

And there’s absolutely a place for admitting, “wow, what I wrote is really resonating with people.” A place for looking at my writing and bearing witness to my own growth.

But human affirmation can be heady, and as those “like” and “share” numbers at the bottom of my last blog post went up, I felt deeply sobered by the reality of the battle for my heart’s gaze.

Recognition is encouraging, yes, but it can be distracting too, and toxic at worst. 

Through it, though, the Holy Spirit’s whispers were loud:

“Look up, Dana. Look at Me. Acknowledge your growth and connect with the hearts of those who’re reaching out for connection – but don’t shift the focus of your pursuit from My heart to man’s attention.”

Yes Lord. Help me. Give me grace to remain in touch with my true desires. Steady on.

And, at the risk of redundancy–

Further up. Further in.

–Sharing this post with my friends in Lisha’s community.–

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