Fake it ‘til you make it.
I’d heard it so much throughout my lifetime, especially in church, that I adopted it as my mantra and faithfully lived by it in my everyday life.
Now, I have such a love-hate relationship with that phrase. On one hand, I get it. There are times when you have to piece it together even when it’s all really falling apart, or act like you’re making it when you’re honestly not. I mean, you can’t acceptably just be out here an emotional wreck, spilling your issues everywhere you go, right? On the other hand, faking it teaches you to suppress things, cover them up, or, in a sense, slap a band-aid on your wounds that really need surgery and keep it moving. Well, that only works temporarily and ultimately makes things worse.
I know it all too well.
I was the queen of faking it. I had mastered putting on a good face when all kinds of hell was breaking loose in my life and in my mind. Even though I wanted to assume the fetal position, pull the covers over my head, and cry and throw all types of tantrums in the dark all day, every day I showed up looking as if my life was perfect and ideal. I pretended for so long that I started to believe my own façade. I became numb to the pain I felt inside because of the pretense I’d made my norm. I just didn’t want anyone to see my pain and judge my life.
I’d almost succeeded at convincing myself that I was okay, until all of the issues that I’d suppressed rose up and nearly choked the life out of me. Then, I had no choice but to stop faking it and really face my problems. At that point, what anyone would think of me was irrelevant, because when pain becomes unbearable it doesn’t matter who sees how much you’re hurting, all you want is whatever it takes to heal.
The thing about suppression is that you’re only hiding the problem, and hidden things almost always show back up. Think about it – putting a bandage on a cut doesn’t stop it from bleeding, it just stops the bleeding from spilling all over the place. The bandage works for a little while, but if you leave it on too long, the wound will likely become infected because you never uncovered it to clean it or air it out, which is necessary for it to heal.
See where I’m going with this?
Sis, it's time for you to heal for real. For long enough, you have painted on this happy face to look good for people who probably couldn't care less about your happiness. You've pretended enough for those who aren't even real with you.
In your mind…
You can't let them see you sweat.
You don't want them to think you don't have your stuff together.
You don't want them to judge you.
You can't let them think you need help and treat you like a charity case.
You refuse to be caught with your face not beat, your hair not slayed, and your outfit not looking like it came straight off the runway.
You give looking the part so much effort, but you have breakdowns in the shower and you cry yourself to sleep every night, if you sleep at all, because underneath all of that faking it, you're hurting and broken. You're unhappy and emotionally unhealthy.
You're cute and all (And I’m not insinuating that you should be in these streets looking a whole wreck!), but, friend, there’s nothing really cute about masquerading as whole when you’re shattered inside.
What you're hiding beneath that pretense needs to be uncovered so that the true essence of who you are can be recovered. As I mentioned before, putting bandages on top of wounds so no one else will see them or to pretend they don’t exist does not make them go away. No matter how much you dress it up, sex it up, shop it up, party it up, over-achieve it up, or however you cover it up, until you reveal it, you will never heal and the pain will only grow deeper and stronger.
Jesus didn’t die for you to live this way. The abundant life He came to give you, mentioned in John 10:10b, is not one that is full of pain, dysfunction, and brokenness.
One of the most beautiful things about God is noted in Hebrews 4:15. It says, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses…” Your pain is a weakness, and God understands. It’s okay to reveal it to Him, because Hebrews 4:16 assures us in this way, “So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” You don’t have to hide anything from Him. You can go before Him and bare it all, and right there in all of your messiness and brokenness, His mercy and grace will wrap you like the comfort of your favorite blanket.
God heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds (Psalm 147:3), and He will restore you to health (Jeremiah 30:17).
See a therapist.
Seek Christian counsel.
Reach out to a trusted confidant.
Uncover it so that you can begin to recover from it. You can’t fake it forever. It’s time to get real with how you feel so that you can heal.
And let’s throw that whole term away, because the truth of the matter is that if you keep faking it, you will not make it. Don’t just look the part; do the work necessary to actually make it your reality.