An Internal Crisis
When I re-started this blog, I made a promise to myself and to anyone who reads it: I said that I would always be as authentic as I knew how to be.
I’m only about 2 weeks out from the relaunch, and already, I find myself in a dilemma of whether to put on a good show or just be the real me.
Today, I’m just being real. Just an honest confession in light of a promise made.
When I restarted, the plan was 2 posts a month on faith, family, home, and health. The topic of faith circled around today, and as I sat down to draft, my fingers were dead weight on the keyboard. I had an idea that I had scheduled in – something I had jotted down last summer from one of my devotion times. But when I went to draft it, it just was crickets.
Writing felt clumsy and awkward. Something about it just didn’t feel authentic. Felt hollow. Fake.
I wasn’t sure why because it’s not like I was trying to push something I didn’t believe in or believe was true. But as I pondered it, I realized that it wasn’t true for me. Not that it wasn’t truth, but it wasn’t the reality I was living.
As hard as I tried, I just couldn’t share that from a fake place.
There are some things you can write about or share and it doesn’t necessarily have to be a personal experience. You can chat about a trending topic, do research, write an incredible piece that you’re proud of, even though it wasn’t your personal experience.
It doesn’t work that way with faith. That has to come from the heart, from your guts. From a place where you are either passionately convinced or vulnerably real. But it can’t be detached information you are passing along, like the latest home trends or diet tips.
So instead, I tried to go in another direction, wanting to be authentic. OK, so what has God been saying to me recently?
Well, I came up short on that one, too. It’s not because God hasn’t been a part of my life or God hasn’t been speaking. If I haven’t been hearing Him lately, it’s on me.
Sure, I could give lots of plausible excuses:
“My existence is crazy trying to care for twin toddlers.”
“I only have so much time during naps and after bedtime; when am I supposed to do laundry and make dinner and clean the house?”
“I’m so tired my mind can’t even function sometimes.”
But the truth is (and I hold to it even when it indicts me) that we make time for what’s important to us. Bottom line.
Am I tired? Am I stretched thin? Am I overwhelmed at times? All of the above. But if my relationship with God is important, I will make time for it and put it above other things. And the irony is – and I know this from experience – life works better when I do.
The Decision to Be Fake or Real
So here I was… in this dilemma of having to write about faith but having nothing authentic to say. And the temptation to fake it was looming above me.
So what then?
Well, the choice was there – to fake it or be real.
To put on a good face might help me save face. Temporarily. But it never solves the problem. And the problem isn’t that I have nothing substantial to write about; the real problem is that there’s some kind of disconnect between me and God. There’s a reason I have nothing to say.
And that right there is the issue (well, one of them) with faking it. It never gets to the core of the real problem: that there is something missing and we are just covering it up.
I think if we are honest, we all face that temptation in some way or another. To misrepresent ourselves. To look better than we are – and not just spiritually. I think this is a chronic cultural problem, and if you think I’m exaggerating, just scroll through your Facebook or Instagram feeds.
I don’t think we are trying to be dishonest or deceive people. And I think there is such a thing as oversharing (again, Facebook and Instagram prove my point), so I’m not saying we have to spill our guts to anyone and everyone. But in those moments when we do have to choose between being real and being fake, what is it in us that feels like we can’t just own our weak spots and have to project to others something that we aren’t?
Fear of rejection?
Loss of respect?
It’s different for everyone, but I can tell you this: it’s a slippery slope when we know enough to put on a pretty good show but there’s not much substance behind it. You can only play that game for so long. And chances are, people aren’t as convinced as we think they are.
Any time we put ourselves out there, we are at a crossroads of wanting to impress and put on a good show or just being real people who honestly let our real selves show, good and bad.
And it can feel like a scary cliff to jump off.
How to Handle the Fakery
OK, so we can fake it or be real. Those are our only choices.
Well, if we fake it, we are just building up pile upon pile of falsehoods which will be much harder to come out from. And that’s not mentioning the harm it’s doing us (and others) by not having a real, authentic relationship with God- or others.
Or, we can be real.
I don’t necessarily think being real means a confessional to the whole world. I think it means being real with ourselves and with God and being willing to do something that turns what we are pretending to be into what we actually are.
For me, this started happening in church this week.
My pastor was preaching from Mark 8, the story of Jesus and the disciples crossing the sea after Jesus fed the multitudes. Jesus mentions the leaven of the Pharisees, and the disciples think He’s referring to the fact that they had forgotten to bring the leftover bread with them. Jesus asks them a series of questions, “Do you not perceive….Do you not understand…Do you not remember?”
My pastor then went through a list of things about remembering. (I’m paraphrasing.)
Don’t you remember when you had faith for answered prayers?
Don’t you remember when you used to love spending time in God’s Word?
Don’t you remember how much you loved worshiping and sitting in God’s presence?
I started to remember what my relationship with God was like before I had kids…how much I loved being in worship services and listening to worship music all the time, how I would get up hours before work just so I could study the Bible, how I felt His presence with me everywhere, in everything….
That life seems like a distant memory to me sometimes, but I started to remember. And I missed that. I missed God.
So what do you do, when there’s a temptation to be fake but you want to be real?
You go back to the beginning, when your faith was real, and you start doing those things again.
You go back to your First Love.
First you own it. Then you do something about it.
Right there in service, I pulled out my phone and set my alarm for 6 am, so I wouldn’t have any more excuses. If He was important to me, the most important, it had to show in my actions. I had to be willing to sacrifice precious sleep. I had to be willing to inconvenience myself a little (and really, it’s so little). I had to show Him I wanted Him more than I wanted anything else.
You have to do something to change your pretense into your reality.
The High Stakes of Being Real
So, I’m 4 days in from my decision (I missed yesterday – just keeping it real.), and of course, He’s been there the whole time waiting for me to make my way back to Him. It’s only 4 days, but it’s been so sweet, and I’m sorry I’ve wasted so much time ‘away.’
After only 4 days, I don’t really have a lot to say on the topic of faith (except this, so maybe that’s something). And honestly, I’m not sure when I will or how often I will have something to say. But when there is a post about faith, it will be real and authentic and something God is putting on my heart to share. Nothing fabricated. Nothing trending. No fakery.
My hope is that this would be true for all of us: that we would never fake our faith. That we would never put on a show just because we know how to. That we would be honest enough to own it when our relationship with God is lacking and be brave enough to take steps to do something about it.
And seriously, the last thing the world needs is fake Christians.
On some levels, it’s risky business being real. You have to trust in the basic goodness of people, that they won’t judge you for your failures and offer you grace and compassion.
But even if they don’t, it’s worth. You were brave. You were real. You were honest with yourself and you were honest with God. And that’s something.
Really, that’s everything.