Aug. 28, 1986, pop artist Cyndi Lauper released a ballad titled “True Colors.” The song was written by Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly. We’re all familiar with the lyrics: “I see your true colors shining through. I see your true colors, and that’s why I love you. So don’t be afraid to let them show, your true colors.”
Based on the writers’ pens, true colors are what they see. As well, true colors are one of the subsequent reasons for their love.
True colors. True — "accurate; exact; in accordance with reality" is how the Oxford Dictionary defines the word. However, due to society’s current temperature this word has been skewed. Social media, the Haves (vs. the Have Nots), the latest wave of cultural happenings and even news reports have led to true colors being falsified and filtered by keeping up with the Joneses or the Kardashians.
Isn’t it divinely ironic that no matter how much we try to fake it ‘til we make it, filter and flex for the ‘Gram or floss for the culture, God sees, knows and continually loves our true colors, i.e. who we really are.
As I consider this gracious act of God’s unconditional love, I am reminded of the scripture Exodus 34:29-35. In this text, Moses goes to speak with the Lord. While there, his face changed and shined ever so brightly. Could it be that during his conversation with I AM, that who he pretended to be was removed and who he was predestined to be was revealed? Could that also be the reason why the people were afraid to come near him, once he descended the mountain, because they didn’t know who he was?
Oh yet another irony that we try to put on a show for people, but hide from God — the same God who loves us and our true colors. However, the people we filter, floss and flex for will drop us in a heartbeat. Why not just be who we really are? Why not just let our true colors shine through — boldly, brightly and beautifully? Even if there are those who don’t accept us, we were known by the true and living God before we were ever formed in our mother’s wombs (Jeremiah 1:5). That alone is reason for us to not be afraid to let them show.
Who we are is going to show up at some point in our lives. We can do our part and prepare and welcome our true selves, or we can allow it to happen unexpectedly and shock everyone, including ourselves. Not only will it show up on our faces, but also through our words and actions. Who we are will show up by way of our friendships and through the activities in which we engage.
This is an inevitable fact that can also be also empowering. There is freedom in being who we are. Who has time to keep up a façade? That’s no way to live life. It’s exhausting and unfulfilling. Since Jesus came that we may have life and that more abundantly (John 10:10), we might as well live our best lives as our true selves, even as we continue to develop to be our truest selves.
As we journey through this Lenten season of reflection, let us take time to really look in the mirror and see who we are. If it doesn’t line up with who we are supposed to be, may we take courage in asking God for help so that our true colors can shine through.
Rae Karim is an Indianapolis pastor who serves as chapel director at Christian Theological Seminary. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.