When I first started teaching Lifeonaire, my goal was to help everyone to develop a Lifeonaire vision for their life.

While walking alongside people, deep down inside I’ve always known that what everybody really wants is connection. All the things that they might put in their vision and all the things that they desire to have—whether it’s more money or it’s big houses or it’s boats or whatever it might be—all of those things are in hopes of experiencing relationships or connection. 

If you’ve been around Lifeonaire for at least a few months, you’ve probably noticed our use of the word “connection”. We’ve recently started using it to refer to our Connect groups and our Connect calls, which aim to bring Lifeonaires together all over the world both virtually and in person.

Considering this word “connection”, there are a couple of things that I want to address. First of all, there’s authentic connection and there’s fake connection. And the authentic connection is what we really desire to have.

In fact, that’s going to be my word for 2022. Authenticity. 

What is Fake Connection?

Fake connection is the unfortunate result of pursuing anything that might fill that desire in us for something real. This is where addiction, brokenness, and departure from reality comes from.

You see, addiction is sadly a common result from trying to connect to someTHING because we’re lacking authentic connection somewhere else. Whether it is through work, drugs, pornography, money, or significance of the wrong kind, we keep feeling like something is missing or that we need to do or have more.

People will work more.

People will begin to compromise their values to make more money.

People will start drinking to have this false sense of connection, or consuming drugs or pornography because their needs are being met momentarily through it.

But it’s all fake. None of it’s real. It’s not authentic. 

Authentic Connect Solves the Problem

Through authentic connection, we can be vulnerable. We can be known for our real selves, and I think that’s when we experience real connection: when we’re known for who we truly are. That’s when that need we have is finally met, and we no longer have to keep searching for more.

This is one of the things many people have said that Lifeonaire has helped provide for them. Many have said ‘I can come into Lifeonaire, be vulnerable, and tell people who I really am, and they’ll still love me. They won’t judge me. They’ll come alongside me and walk through life with me.’ That transparency and vulnerability in a trusting environment allows for that authentic connection to emerge. 

Through authentic connection, there’s freedom. We’re not faking who we are. We’re not trying to be somebody we’re not. People even begin to love us for how we stand out in our ability to show who we truly are.

It contrasts the trap the world often pulls us into, where we puff our chests and boast about all the things we’ve done. We’ll go on social media and pump ourselves up about ‘what a great person, great business owner, great parent, or great everything’ we are.

Many of this might be true. But if you’ve done this (and most of us have at least once), you’ve probably found that even though people might admire you for your accomplishments, deep down inside, you feel like it’s all a lie.

The bottom line is when connection is fake, we need more and more and more of it. We know that the praise that people are giving us is also fake praise, because they aren’t praising us. They’re praising the narrative we put out there. And then we’re trapped in this prison of having to keep living up to the lie in hopes that they don’t find out who we really are.

See how addiction can set in here?

So, the solution to breaking many of our addictions to the things of this world—our desire for more money, more significance in the eyes of the world, more drugs, more alcohol, more sex, and all these negative things that are really tearing us apart—is to be authentic.

Start here:

Now, if you’re struggling with authentic connection, I have a suggestion of which relationship to start with trying to improve.

If you’re putting out a fake version of yourself, it likely stems from not feeling like who you are is good enough. You don’t love yourself. And if you don’t love yourself, it’s hard to love others. It’s hard to love God.

Jesus said the greatest commandment of all is to love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength. And when we can love Jesus, then we begin to have that authentic relationship with Him, we can be real with Him, we can tell Him, “hey Jesus, I fall short, here is who I am.” And He loves you anyway. 

Yet the second commandment, love your neighbor as yourself. Considering this, how can we love others if we don’t love ourselves?

If we can look at ourselves and see that we’ve been redeemed, then we can truly start to love ourselves. Then we are able to love all our neighbors in the same way.

And so to be authentic is where we get to experience real connection. We can love ourselves, love others, and love God in a way that fills that deep desire in us.

So, authenticity is the word for 2022. I hope that this speaks to all of you in a meaningful way, and that you’ll pursue authenticity with God and with others. May you find real joy and real peace in it in 2022.

Steve Cook

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