I’m good at faking it.
I used to sit in groups of women laughing and discussing life—like I too, didn’t have any more to worry about than the latest breakup stories or how to shop organic on a budget. I was funny, charming, confident, engaging—everything I was ‘supposed’ to be. My greatest fear sitting in those rooms, restaurants, and church gatherings was coming undone. I felt if someone poked me with a tiny needle all the hurt and pain and fear and confusion would come oozing out of my fragile heart. So I made a vow to do a damn good job of faking happiness.
I faked it all through high school. I was your typical driven, high achiever who took every A.P. class offered (as long as it didn’t involve molecules) and volunteered for everything. I wasn’t the best athlete, but I ran suicides over Christmas break and put in long hours in order to make the basketball team. I would sit in Bible studies and share prayer requests about good performance at school and getting into college, when all I really wanted to do was scream about the turmoil in my heart. I started FCA with my best friend and talked about reaching the campus for Jesus. I walked across the stage at graduation as “Ruthie Harper—Vanderbilt," but the real Ruthie behind the fabricated happiness sometimes just wanted to disappear.
I went to China as a missionary and, until this happened, I did nothing but strive to keep my image intact. I smiled, said and did all the right things, and went through the motions when oftentimes I just wanted to be far, far away. It’s exhausting cutting our hearts off and trying to pretend, isn’t it? I used all the lingo and told hundreds of students about Jesus. But I look back on these years and see someone as trying to fake it with God. Someone trying to fake happiness, trying to erect this beautiful wall, so no one saw the ruins of my heart.
We have the message of the Bible all wrong when we think we have to pretend our lives have a perfect bow wrapped around them, when Jesus calls us to tell the world that despite heartache, addictions, broken families, and all the tragic circumstances, that we have hope. We don’t hope in happiness, but we place our hope in joy.
And as Larry Crabb says, “People who insist on happiness never find joy.”
So what does that mean for you and me? God doesn’t want us to fake it. He wants to hear you’re having a terrible day, if not year, that you hate seeing little girls with their dads because it reminds you of pain from your absent father. It took me the longest to learn that God especially doesn’t want us to fake it with Christians because then those around us will only want to build their walls higher to hide the messiness of life.
God doesn’t want you to fake it. Ask questions, cry, scream, yell, but don’t deaden your heart to desire. All He wants is for you to tell him how you really feel and allow others to see that it’s OK not to have all the answers.
Do you fake it with God? What do you think about the quote, “People who insist on happiness never find joy?”
CC Image • Mayselgrove on Flickr