CULTURE OF AUTHENTICITY
In the fall of 2018, there was a two-week period where I did not go to work. Not due to some virus or a death in the family, but because I was dealing with anxiety and depression. I am at my best when I am surrounded by people – people I am entrusted to love, encourage, and build with. In fact, the hallmark of my life has been my ability to give with great capacity. To create, stretch, adapt and pour out. I had nothing left to pour. Not only did I feel like I was letting others down, but I fundamentally didn’t feel able to live up to who I knew myself to be and who I believed God had called me to be. So I took the time.
I took the two weeks to nurture my soul. I read. I prayed. I worshiped. I took walks. I visited friends and we even celebrated this “sabbatical” of sorts. However, I didn’t take a moment to let others into what led to this moment of sustained rest in the first place. Moving from Cincinnati, Ohio to New York City four years ago presented many challenges, many of which I tried to solve in my own strength. One of those challenges was meeting new friends the “old fashioned” way. And by “old fashioned” I mean, trekking from Crown Heights to West Harlem searching for the best happy hour deals, and looking at pictures on Yelp to determine the “vibe”, hoping to be in the right place at the right time. Yes, for friends.
Dinner Party was an answered prayer for both friends and community. As I’ve grown deeper in my relationship with God and those around me, it has not only been the place of cultivating soul-enriching friendship, but leaning into bare-boned authenticity. I’ve challenged myself to not only create a space where others feel comfortable to heal and be challenged, but to lead with transparency alongside that same group of people. A couple of weeks ago, I found myself starting to feel like I couldn’t get out of bed again. Instead of waiting until I reached my point of no return, I set up a groupchat with those I knew who would not only pray for me, but intentionally continue to check in. I explained all that I was carrying and what I needed in order to be supported.
Living a culture of authenticity starts with the cross. I am free to share my seasons of anxiety, depression, insecurity, shame, loneliness, or jealousy because I know that’s not the identity that Jesus died on the cross for me to carry. I know that despite what season I may endure, I am not bound to any of those identities or the feelings that stem from them. Matthew 5:14 says that we are the light of the world. Darkness deserves to have light brought to it. Our unapologetic authenticity around the good, the bad, and the ugly is what will ultimately set the next person free.
— Jerrica White