I recently posted a video entitled “My Authentic Self” on my tiny YouTube channel. The video was “inspired” by the recent influx of tearful and emotional coming out/update videos posted by various YouTube stars. In these videos the common theme, apart from the obvious, seemed to be “just be yourself” and “don’t be ashamed of who you are.” So I thought, “Ok, big YouTuber, I’m going to post my own “coming out” video of sorts and show everyone my “authentic self.” Not long after posting the video; however, I removed it from my public feed. At this point you may, or may not, be asking yourself why. Well, this is your lucky day (?) as I intend to explain myself.
Initially, I chose to post an “authentic self” video because I suspected the “just be yourself” mantra espoused by these particular YouTubers was not always a two way street. I wondered how they would respond if one their young viewers, while finding their channel entertaining, perhaps did not subscribe to their liberal views or support their lifestyle choices. Would they really be ok with a more conservative viewer just being themselves? I have witnessed one YouTuber’s video response to such a situation (and the viewer was NOT disrespectful) and it wasn’t pretty. So, although none of these people would ever see my video, I thought I might feel better, personally, if I created my own authentic/be true to yourself/just do you/be proud of who you are type of concoction and if people didn’t like it, fine, at least I was being “authentic.”
In my video, I laid it all on the line. I shared my declarations of Christianity – my belief in God, my belief that Jesus is the only way to salvation, and my belief in the Bible as it is written not in the watered down version we have created to justify some of our more unfortunate life choices. After sharing what I considered crucial information, I then took the next step and determinedly hit the “publish” button.
However, later that same night, just as I was trying to get some sleep, some disturbing thoughts began seeping into my brain. I kept thinking about the video’s content. I was struck by how I talked about being a Christian, how I talked about my beliefs, and how I talked about the accepted mockery directed at Christianity in today’s society. I realized I had been doing an awful lot of talking which lead me to an even more disturbing question – is that all I am – talk? Am I the proverbial loud gong or clanging symbol? All I could hear was myself saying “I believe this…I believe that…I believe so and so” and then I thought, “but what am I actually DOING?” Would my friends and family watch this video and think, “Huh, I never knew she was a Christian.” Unfortunately, I feared the answer to that question would be, yes, most of them would be surprised to hear my professions of faith. Talk about a punch to the gut! This all lead to a slightly panicky moment, involving quite a bit of cold sweat, and I promptly removed the video from my public feed.
It has been over a week since this particular video fail but it has not been a total loss. As is so often the case, my intentions for making this video – to defend the faith and share my personal Christian manifesto – took a back seat as greater lessons began to emerge.
First, God doesn’t need me to defend him. He is God. He can manage that on his own. Does this mean I stand by and listen to blasphemous talk? No, it does not, but he is big enough and powerful enough to handle his own defense. Second, God wants me to put HIM first and He doesn’t always want me to simply talk about him, He wants me TO DO SOMETHING. Perhaps doing something begins with spending more time reading the Bible or in prayer; it may begin with showing more compassion for my family and friends. It may mean venturing out of the hermitage and seeking opportunities to serve him through serving others in my community. It could mean I start giving him more credit for pulling me out of the pit of hopelessness and despair.
The overwhelming message I seem to be getting lately, please forgive the cliche, is it’s not enough to talk the talk, you must also walk the walk. Regardless of how many posts and videos I create about Christianity, if I am not LIVING as the authentic person God wants me to be, then all my talk is meaningless.