When I was little I was taught to react to every gift with extreme exuberance—whether it was a cat t-shirt with fringe tassels on the bottom or heirloom sapphire earrings mattered not and required the same level of hysterical and profuse excitement. Every gift was to be accepted with wild, often manufactured, abandon. I could show you some home videos that would have you rolling on the floor laughing.
But at some point that became extremely exhausting.
And it leaked into other areas of my life as well, including my relationship with God. That pattern left me believing it was unacceptable to tell him how I really felt about something because I needed to “show my appreciation,” even if it was manufactured and insincere.
The phrase “Fake it ’til you make it” became my mantra for life and faith.
I don’t know about you, but that actually seems like pretty bad advice to me.
At best it can cause you to tackle an uncomfortable but necessary task, but at its worst it’s soul-crushing and deceitful. However, through the years I’ve often felt like it was expected, even (and sometimes especially) in my relationship with God. Because it didn’t feel safe to admit that at various times in my life I didn’t always feel like the words I read in the Bible were true, or I didn’t want to do what they said.
I recently dusted off an old devotional that was buried in a basket by the side of my bed and read these words:
“Meditate on the following prayer from the Book of Common Prayer (1979): ‘The Lord is full of compassion and mercy: O come, let us adore him.’ Notice what your response is. If there is something you need to repent of today, go to God and receive his mercy. If you want to adore him for his compassion, spend time doing so. If you don’t want to adore God, take time to open yourself to the reality that he is praiseworthy. Don’t force yourself to feel things you don’t feel or to say things you don’t mean, but do consider the reality acknowledged in the prayer.” (Solo, Eugene H. Peterson pg. 44–emphasis mine)
When I read that I stopped cold. So many times I’ve thought I had to feel a certain way or say certain things to God—whether I truly felt it or not. Those words that day were a gentle reminder that God wants my honest heart, not my fake, manufactured devotion, because he can’t deal with my misguided feelings if I never come clean about how I really feel. He’s not impressed with my acting skills—even though they’re pretty stellar from all those years of practice!
If you’re looking to dig down and peel back the layers of “fakin’ it” I’d highly recommend the devotional that I mentioned (You can find it on Amazon here—this is an affiliate link which just means that you pay the exact same amount you usually would for the book but Amazon pays me a small commission). The style in which it’s laid out encourages you to deal honestly with your actual feelings and emotions—not an expected veneer or practiced responses. Refreshing, right?
I hope you find, as I have, that as you grow in honesty and become more aware of any “fake” tendencies the more your relationship with God will flourish.
Here’s to flourishing and growing in truth!
Tell me what you think about this blog. I want to hear from you! What’s been your experiences with “fakin’ it”? How has that worked or not worked for you?
P.S. Some of you may have heard about the recent controversy surrounding Eugene Peterson. Scott Sauls wrote a very thoughtful article on the subject here. I’d encourage you to read it. I appreciate Scott’s willingness to cling to the truth of the Bible while simultaneously holding fast to its primary teaching—love.