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Authenticity - A Wilderness Guide

By Lenora Rousseau

"True belonging is a spiritual practice of believing and belonging to yourself so deeply that you can share your most authentic self with the world and find sacredness in both being a part of something and standing alone in the wilderness." Brene Brown

In every trial that we face, there is always something to be learned, and therefore, something to be gained. Seasons of 'wilderness,' as painful as they are, often tend to be times of growth and illumination. This is precisely why the Desert Fathers and Mothers of old withdrew from ordinary life. Free from the distractions of their every day business, they were able to truly face themselves and let go of faulty ways of thinking and being that did not align with what they discovered to be the truth about themselves, others, and God.

Today, we might not withdraw to the literal 'wilderness,' but people still routinely retreat to places of isolation in order to experience a 'reset,' so to speak, of their truest nature and to connect more deeply with God and themselves; and, when they emerge they are better able to connect with others and the world in ways that align with their created purpose. While most of us would not describe these past couple of months as a 'retreat,' many of us might certainly acknowledge that it has been a time of revelatory 'wilderness.'

As we begin to slowly emerge from this season of withdrawal and exchange our isolation for re-engagement, I have been wondering what wisdom about ourselves we might be able to glean from this experience that we might intentionally carry with us as guides for the future.

For instance, many of us have experienced a revealing of our core values and had our eyes opened to the reality of our 'shared humanity' like never before. As many people have (re)connected with friends and family more intentionally, they have begun to see themselves and others beyond the normal labels and assumptions we often make about who we/they are and how we/they are coping with life.

We have asked, "How are you?"

And, we have waited for the answer... genuinely interested to listen and hear their answer, their story, and to share our own.

In the process, many us have began to see our true ourselves and others in ways that were previously blurred or disguised by our busy routines and misguided assumptions. That level of connection we have felt at our core - that enables us to see and be seen for who we really are - is called authenticity.

And I would go so far as to say that when we practice true authenticity, we are treading on sacred ground because the "Lord is Spirit, and wherever the Spirit is, there is freedom and liberty!" (2 Cor 3:17). Which also means that when are are not living as our most authentic selves, we are, at least in part, standing in God's way to redeem and make all things new.

While the 'reset' button we have all been experiencing was not chosen, nor has it been easy, I do believe that there are some key lessons that we can take with us as we forge our way back into social and economical integration. One of those characteristics is authenticity.

While we may not be able to slow down societies rush to get back to the 'way things were,' we can certainly choose to be agents of change and transformation by allowing authenticity to continue to guide us forward into our new daily lives. Yet, doing so will take intentionality on our part.

Towards that goal, I invite you take a few moments this week to reflect on the following questions as they relate to your experience over the past two months:

What have you learned about yourself - who you are, who your are not?

What unexpected strengths have you discovered about yourself?

What areas of growth have been revealed about yourself?

What have you come to value most?

With what do you want to intentionally re-engage as soon as possible?

What have you learned to let go of that you will intentionally not pick back up?

What impedes your authenticity? What supports it?

How might authenticity help you create sacred space for yourself and others moving forward?

My hope is that we will all find ways to stay connected to our truest selves while re-engaging in society in ways that foster continued authenticity. If you would like to discuss ways to go deeper into your own self-discovery, or if you are finding a need to begin healing from anxiety or trauma that this pandemic has caused, please don't hesitate to reach out!

We are here to support you in your journey with one-on-one Spiritual Direction, Counseling, and Nutrition. Contact us any time at 407-952-2819 or email

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