We have a call to be authentic. Everyone’s heard the saying, “Don’t just talk the talk; walk the walk.” It’s a call to follow through with what you say and to be the same person on paper as you are in person. This past Thursday on our weekly Leadershift call, Mike Davidson stated this concept in a fresh way: “Right outward talking with wrong inward thinking doesn’t create good results. Continual growth and lasting success are the results of aligning the inside and the outside of our lives.”
Ah, alignment. I’m no car expert, but I know that it’s important that my car’s wheels are properly aligned; otherwise, my tires could wear very quickly and my steering wheel might pull more to the left or right. If the alignment is off, my car is going to work harder on the tires than it needs to. Essentially, proper alignment will help with the longevity of my tires, give me the best gas mileage, and it will give me a smooth ride.
If it’s important to have a car properly aligned, how much more important is it to make sure our lives are aligned the way they need to be? Going back to Mike’s point, are the inside and the outside of my life in alignment? It’s easy to put on a façade in order to escape authenticity and vulnerability.
I used to live a double life. From approximately 2014-2018 I was the person who was at church every Sunday, in a community group, a women’s theology group, and a women’s Bible study every single week. From the outside, it seemed like I had my life together and was doing great, but what most people didn’t see, and what I did well with hiding from most people, was that I was deeply struggling. I was numb, I felt broken and defeated, and I was lost in the world of alcohol and flippant relationships. I wasn’t ready to give up this double life I was leading though. During this period in my life, I was so misaligned that there was no room for any type of positive growth or success. I would say one thing and then go do another, and I was convinced that everyone around me was none the wiser. Because of this misalignment, because outward talking didn’t match my inward thinking, I was deteriorating.
Sometimes we don’t even realize we are doing it. My example is extreme, but misalignment can happen every day, all around us. One of the most basic ways is perhaps through the common question, “How are you?” It seems like the cordial thing to ask pretty much anyone! And what’s the normal response? “I’m fine!” or “Doing good!” are probably the two most common responses I get from this question. But what happens on a day when absolutely everything is going wrong and it feels like the world is falling apart around you? “I’m fine” is probably still going to be the automatic answer that escapes someone’s lips when they are asked that question.
I believe the problem with this lies both with the one asking the question, and the one answering. “How are you?” is something we’re told to ask in Basic Conversations 101. Do we ask out of care, curiosity, or habit? And what about the stereotypical answers thrown out without any honesty or authenticity to back them up?
We need to stop asking the questions we don’t want honest answers to.
I believe that when we allow the space for facades and don’t challenge those around us to be honest with their words and actions, we aren’t doing anyone a favor.
Right outward talking with wrong inward thinking doesn’t create good results. We are either making deposits or withdrawals in the lives of other people. Every interaction and communication we have with another does one of the two.
When we deposit, we give.
When we withdraw, we take.
Here’s a secret though: when you make a deposit in others, you both gain something. When I spend time serving someone in my life, I always have a refreshed spirit and a grateful heart. That’s not to say the act of service isn’t difficult or physically draining, but my soul is lighter when I joyfully make deposits into other’s lives. It’s certainly not wrong to make withdrawals depending on the situation. Sometimes relationships are designed that way. For example, meeting with a therapist. All relationships are give and take, but it’s important to recognize how much we are taking from another, and what we are bringing to the table.
In healthy relationships and friendships, the pair takes turns making deposits and withdrawals. The other day I got coffee with two ladies from church. Before we knew it, almost 4 hours had passed, and we were still caught up in conversation. Each of us shared what was going on in our lives, different things we were struggling with, ideas we had, etc. I deposited my input, knowledge, and encouragement, and I withdrew wisdom and refreshment.
If we were to start paying more attention to the interactions we have with others, both with acquaintances and those nearest and dearest to us, I think we would begin to be more intentional with the ways we interact and invest in people. As we practice having authentic relationships where we both deposit and withdraw, the inside and the outside of our lives begins to align.
Alignment happens when we start being honest with ourselves and those around us. When we don’t just talk the talk but walk the walk, our steps become lighter and the growth and success we are searching for begins to take root.
Speaking of alignment, my car has been pulling to the right lately…guess I need to have that looked at.
So here’s to growth. Our growth.