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Inspiration for Today’s Devotional: “Fake It ‘Til You Make It”
Fluttershy finds herself in another situation where she’s jarred out of her comfort zone in this episode; namely being asked to run Rarity’s own bustling and highbrow boutique in Manehattan. Being naturally shy and with no retail experience, Fluttershy elects to handle running the store by “faking it”–pretending to be a series of alternate personas that appear to be more confident and knowledgeable in the field.
Disaster soon resulted when Fluttershy took her fake personas too far and ended up embodying all of their negative characteristics while simultaneously not knowing when it was time to “drop the act”.
A rather crazy example, but still drawing attention to the fallacy of trying to be a fake person.
All of us probably have met at least one person in our lives who we saw was “fake”. On the outside they may have appeared to be any number of things: nice, empathetic, generous, fair-minded, or even a devout Christian. In phone conversations, in public, and on the Internet they might have painted themselves as a model citizen, a certified genius, or a fantastic friend. Yet all we needed to do is be with them at home or in private for fifteen minutes and we started seeing what kind of person they really were. Less patient, more argumentative, possessing greater self-centeredness, or showing off any of a host of biases and prejudices. These individuals can often be frustrating because, similar to Fluttershy in this episode, they have put up this fake front of being this different person for so long that they’ve ended up fooling themselves. They’ll insist on their own virtues or qualities, and as a result never confront reality about their own character flaws and need to change.
That is not, however, to say that these individuals are necessarily narcissistic egomaniacs or suffer from delusions of grandeur. If you’re at all socially awkward (like me), chances are at some point in your life you tried to get through a conversation by “faking it ’til you made it”. Perhaps you pretended to be a sports’ enthusiast when you knew nothing of a sport but were surrounded by fans, that you were knowledgeable about this or that TV show when you had only heard a few reviews and didn’t want to be left out of a conversation, or even tried to pretend to be more cheerful and talkative than you really were to fit in with an odd crowd.
For me personally, however, the biggest time I ever “faked it” was early in my college years–namely when trying to be “more Christian”.
At the time, I constantly heard stories of great men and women for Christ as well as tales of martyrs and miracles all over the world that took place due to the power of their faith. I was also reading the “heavier” parts of the Bible that mentioned the demands of keeping the Law and of being holy before God. I eventually got to the point where I was feeling seriously inadequate compared to “real” Christians…and more than a little envious. I concluded that I would have to be like a saint or foreign missionary in my level of action and commitment if I wanted to call myself a real Christian, but hearing of their great acts, self-sacrifice, as well as everything they gave up for their respective ministries left me feeling nervous and ashamed because I knew I could never match those things. So, instead, for a time, I tried getting into whatever I could in terms of service and ministry and then decided I would “fake it” by saying all the right things a good Christian would say and espousing the Gospel while acting good-natured and like I was everyone’s friend until it came more naturally to me.
It was a disaster. As I mentioned in earlier devotionals, my true nature came through and what attempts I did make to “be Christian” were either incredibly weak or obviously fake, especially when authentic Christians came in and showed me up big time. I came off more as a crazy person with nowhere to go. It became very clear very quickly to everyone that I didn’t want to be in those situations, that doing so was making me overwhelmingly uncomfortable, and that I wasn’t being very Christ-like to anyone. I eventually learned a good lesson from all that: when it comes to being Christian, there’s no way to fake it ’til you make it. Sooner or later your true nature will come out, and at best you’ll just embarrass yourself while at worst you’ll embarrass the Body of Christ as well.
The Bible warns against trying to “fake your way” through being a Christian. “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” (Romans 12:9-10) “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3). For years, however, I didn’t pay attention to these, because I thought the alternative was doing nothing and loving no one. I figured it would be better to be a fake yet upstanding Christian than a real yet uncaring one.
But my problem was I was focusing on the wrong issue. Christians don’t love God because they do good things. They do good things because they love God. I needed to focus on strengthening my relationship with God and loving him more and wanting to understand him more, and, by doing so, learn to love other people as he does. If you love God and other people, you no longer have to compel yourself to be good, kind, generous, or compassionate toward them, because you already do those things out of that love. “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” (Luke 6:45). You may still need to push yourself out of your comfort zone from time to time, but it’s important that you do so for the right reasons and with the purer motive.
A bit cliche but still true…God created you to be you, not anyone else. He designed you to do what you can do…again, not what anyone else can do. When tempted to be “fake” for the sake of pleasing God, my suggestion is this. Don’t try to be as good or a better Christian than “him” or “her”. Focus on being a better Christian than the you from yesterday.
Suggested Prayer: “Lord God, thank you for making me the way I am; unique in my own way and not quite the same as anyone else in history. Grant that I will appreciate how you made me and help me to better develop my talents and “good parts” for serving you and others. When I’m feeling inadequate or envious of others and desire to be more like them to make up for my own faults, help me to remember that I am your unique creation, to focus more on improving my deficiencies rather than trying to mask them, and to consider how I, [your name], am best suited for and can best further the Kingdom of God. Please confront me if I am guilty of lying to myself and others about who I am, and, if so, forgive me and help me to be more authentic to all people and especially to you. Gratefully in Jesus’ Name, Amen.”