Be careful what you wish for: it has to be authentic

Authentic sometimes doesn’t look like our plan.

There is no doubt that “authentic” is the new buzzword these days. You see it as an advertising adjective everywhere you turn, and in ministry world we’ve been recreating “authentic” experiences and longing for “authentic” interactions with community. I even noticed today in shopping for a new messenger bag for my computer that I wanted it to be have an authentic, vintage appeal. Wherever this consumer-oriented, technology-laden generation turns, it now wants to be and feel authentic.

Be careful what you wish for!

Authentic comes with a price tag. Consider, for example, the Santa Barbara Starbucks where we began our day this morning versus the Java Joint, an authentic local coffee shop here in town. Both served amazing coffee. We enjoyed our time in each. But I noticed something about Java Joint: the distressed brick walls showed different colors of brick reflecting its previous lives in retail. It’s bathroom was carved out of a store room, and had rickety fixtures original to the building. The people who wandered in from the street were often just that: street people. At Starbucks the air-conditioning was running well, the bathroom smelled clean and the colors harmonized.

When you search for authentic, you may be surprised by what you find. Be prepared in ministry, design and life, to greet the flaws in “authentic” with gratitude at their originality and acceptance of their character. And when striving to be authentic, remember that the cracks in the facade aren’t scars to be hidden, they are the life God has given.

By Marla Saunders

I am passionately devoted to living my life in the places God has given me. Over the years those places have changed: from homeschooler to businesswoman, from consumer to storyteller. These days I'm focusing on building a new business and figuring out what it means to do everything with integrity and informed by faith.