Freedom to be Yourself

Have you ever found yourself being politically correct, when deep down inside you wished you could share the truth? I’m not suggesting that you desired to insult someone, or boldly make an eye-popping statement, but you just wanted tell a simple unadulterated truth without pretense or accessories.

Years ago I was shooting a wedding and found the groom to be less than the bride deserved. The people in my proximity were in agreement, but nobody dared to say a word. They were all being politically correct because no one wanted to ruin a “perfect” wedding. Before I could put the proof books together, I was contacted by the Chicago Police who confiscated the photos. It turned out that the couple was in a terrible divorce battle and the pictures became evidence.

I heard bits and pieces of the story when they wanted to use me as a witness. Having shot numerous weddings in my day, I knew they weren’t going to ask about how I accidentally snapped the father of the bride picking his nose. I was confident they wanted me to get on the stand and talk about the picture I happened to take of the groom inappropriately touching the maid of honor during the reception.

I’ve always been amazed at how much can take place between the time you compose a great shot and the split second your finger finishes clicking off the picture. You know, that moment when you think no one is paying attention. The moment when you let down your guard and act like the real person you are.

Being who we are is easy for some. For instance, a bad groom who takes a wonderful woman off the market for a mere four weeks can be very comfortable in his own skin, while a well behaved wholesome man might feel uncomfortable as he struggles to be more Christ like. Then again, a person who has walked for years with Christ through numerous situations might find that he is comfortable in all circumstances due to his confidence that Christ is with him.

I’m suggesting a freedom that doesn’t require any politics, game playing, or pretense. I’m speaking of a freedom that allows me to be me, whether you accept me or not. A freedom that says it’s okay for me to be who I was made to be, regardless of my temporary shortcomings that I’ll work on throughout life.

In order to have freedom to be ourselves, we must take off our masks and live a sincere and authentic life regardless of what others think, say, or do to us. We must take the steps of freedom before we feel it, or are able to embrace it. We must take that step of faith that suggests our creator made us the way we are for a purpose and it’s a good purpose. Oh, I’m not suggesting that acting-out in sin is okay, it’s not. I’m merely suggesting that being ourselves is honest.

I’m a creative type who has many thoughts and feelings deep inside that need a venue for release, or everything comes out when I least expect it in an uncontrollable tacky fashion – Not a pretty sight. The good news is that in a controllable environment the information can be useful and helpful to others, which can only be accomplished when I’m being me and not pretending to be someone I’m not.

To live with this freedom in a healthy fashion, I needed to take note of when I pretended to be someone I’m not. Years back, I was at a Fortune 100 party that served beer and wine. The people mingled and told stories that should have been left alone. While some might have thought the loose lips were due to the alcohol, I realized it was due to the pressure that most experienced as they tried to earn brownie points from their boss. There was hesitancy on every face. Each person had a goal of being their boss’s buddy, instead of being themselves.

It was the type of “low pressured” party where if you said the right “inappropriate” thing at the right time, everyone laughed and knew you were headed up the ladder. If you made the wrong comment at the wrong time, most gambled on when you would get the boot. And, if you said the right thing at the right time, everyone thought you were bucking for brownie points and would soon be blocked from any potential future by your peers.

So there I was making what came across as a taboo righteous comment and not being heard by anyone. Being goal minded, I was about to give it another attempt when I realized staying quiet might be in my best interest. But being a proactive person, silence would not do. Instead, I decided to join in and be someone I wasn’t.

Having given up who I was, it didn’t take long to realize that I put on a mask to “fit in.” The moment of insight came from a comment I made to the one I was supposed to be impressing. I was making an excuse for why I wasn’t drinking – An excuse, of all things. Why does a person who doesn’t drink have to be embarrassed that they aren’t drinking?

My confidence in being a non-drinker was shattered. I found myself trying to placate someone, while I was pretending to be something I wasn’t. I found myself in emotional bondage, trapped in a corner wondering if I should start drinking to feel better or excuse myself from the party because I didn’t fit in.

All of this from a person who typically lights up a party and brings fun and laughter to all, regardless of the amount of alcohol being served. When I’m me, I don’t have to worry about what others think, but when I’m being someone else, I worry about their every thought.  It was obvious that the more I was concerned about what others thought, the less I was experiencing the freedom of being me.

While the disrespectful groom treated the bride with contempt, he was being honest in who he was, which eventually led him to realize that his behavior was atrocious. He apologized to the bride and her family, married the maid of honor, and saw a psychologist for a couple years to learn how to care about others. His freedom to be who he was led him to become who he was meant to be. He became a good man because he always lived honestly, regardless of the behaviors he exhibited.

He now has two daughters talking about marriage and seeking their dad’s insights on whether or not their fiancées are sincere and honest. And, the bad groom has become an excellent father of the brides because he decided to live out his life based on who he was, which led to him changing his bad behaviors.

Are you ready to be you and see how great you turn out?

Copyright © 2011 By CJ Powers
© Photo_Ma – Fotolia.com
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