Awareness, Attitude, Authenticity


Awareness, Attitude, Authenticity

The topic of authenticity seems to be coming up a lot lately. In an age where it feels like everyone is under a certain amount of scrutiny, being able to say that one is (or is not) authentically ‘something’ seems to have taken on a bit of weight.  “She’s an authentic expert on Covid vaccines.” “He’s not an authentic Conservative.” “Our company is authentically Canadian!”

But that leads to a few questions. What does it really mean to be authentic? More importantly, what does it mean to be an authentic Christian?

Authenticity is the degree to which our actions agree with our values, despite external pressures to social conformity.  If we extend this concept a bit further, authentic Christianity means that what we do is congruent with our desire to grow closer to Christ and to bring others to him, even if the people around us don’t necessarily appear to be doing the same.

How can we foster this sense of authenticity in ourselves and, by example, in others? I suggest that one way that we can work toward achieving this is with a simple equation. (It has to be simple. Because I authentically hate math.)

A + A = A     Awareness + Attitude = Authenticity

The Samaritan in Sunday’s Gospel (Luke 17:11-19) shows us how it’s done. It begins with an awareness of the fact that he’s just been healed by Jesus. Follow that with an attitude change – from sadness or hopelessness to gratitude. And that then leads to an authentic action: despite the fact that no one else around him is doing it, he makes a point of praising and thanking God for the incredible gift he’s just received. Doubtless, it changed his life for good. (In every sense of the term.) And that gift allows him to live, more authentically, the life God meant for him: a life of joy, purpose, and praise, which not only draws him closer to Christ, but encourages others to draw near as well.

So, how do we incorporate this handy little equation in our own lives?

Start with awareness. Everything in creation is designed to lead us to God. Where in your life, today, have you been gifted with something wonderful? It could be something as momentous as a raise, the news of an illness in remission, or a new baby. But it could also be as simple as a sunrise, a compliment from a stranger, or a perfectly buttered piece of toast. (Admit it. It’s a thing of beauty.) Signs of God’s love are all around us, and one critical step toward living an authentic discipleship is seeing and recognizing these signs everywhere, and in every moment. (While you’re at it, take a moment to appreciate the awesome wonder and joy of spelling “sacramentality” on a triple word score.)

Then add attitude. An attitude of gratitude. Get into the habit of saying “thank you” for each beautiful thing that blesses you in a day. Thank God for the profound gift of comfort in sad times, for deep healing in painful moments, for radical forgiveness when you least deserve it, for unfettered joy in times of celebration. And while you’re at it, thank God for warm socks, purring cats, green lights, chai lattes, and Shreddies with brown sugar. (The ultimate comfort food. Don’t bother disagreeing with me.)

And here’s the most beautiful part: the more you are thankful for, the more you’ll notice. The more you notice, the more you’ll be thankful for. And this amazing little cycle of attitude feeding awareness, and awareness feeding attitude, is where authenticity lies: when every fibre of our authentic being – the very essence what God had in mind for us when he created us – is oriented toward God. When we recognize the gift of God’s outrageous love in every moment of our lives, we can’t help but shout “thank you!!!!”  in the midst of a group of people who might not (yet) be doing the same.

Like the Samaritan, rush back in thanksgiving, day after day, and praise God loudly enough to make people wonder what the fuss is about. They’ll come looking.

And when they do… show them how to do some authentic math.

By Darcie Lich
Vocation Team – Oblate Associate
(306) 220-0527