Authenticity Fail

I have been thinking about ways I can be more authentic and more honest with who I am and less afraid of what others might be thinking (since I have no control over that). I want to show up to the world completely true to who I am, not hiding or cowering from my truth.

This takes some courage and practice. It also takes some finesse and grace.

My first conscious attempt at this taught me an unforgettable lesson. My visiting teachers came to visit and one of them brought me a package of cookies. It was very thoughtful of her. The cookies were from Australia (where her husband had served a mission), and they were special to her family. I accepted the gift and invited them into my home to sit down together. I opened the package of cookies to share. I took a cookie and the one who brought them also took one; my other visiting teacher declined. I typically don’t buy or eat store-bought cookies, but I wanted to accept the gift graciously and share them as we visited.

Neither of us took seconds, although I encouraged her to. As delicious as they were, I knew I wouldn’t be eating any more of them and it was very likely that my family wouldn’t either. I anticipated the package sitting in my pantry for weeks and months, only to end up eventually in the trash. I didn’t like that mental prognosis, so I decided to try out some authenticity and offer a different option.

It went something like this:

“Hey, I know these cookies are special to your family and to be honest, my family probably won’t eat them. I would hate to have them sit in my cupboard indefinitely and wind up stale and thrown out. Would you like to take them home to your family instead?”

I’m sure whatever came out of my mouth was much more awkward than the composed version above. The impression I got from her reaction was a combination of confusion, shock, and maybe a little offense. She was very sweet and I really don’t know how she felt about it, but this is what I learned:

When someone wants to give, let them be a giver. Always receive graciously.

My “authentic” self at that time was more concerned with sharing my truth about the fate the cookies rather than acknowledging the generosity of the giver. My “truth” was more important than her offering. Now I see that my truly authentic self values others for their gifts (no matter what it is) more than whatever my thoughts might be about the gift.

How I receive says more about me than what I receive.

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