Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Fake It Til You Break It

Even with all the reality shows, the constant catch phrases, and advice to be real and 2-legit-2-quit, do you ever get the feeling that people are faking it? On Facebook, Twitter, and especially TV. So many seem to have these happy little lives, and they claim to be proud of so much. But I can't help but wonder—I think they might be faking it.

We live in a world of great actors. Illusionists even. People that might have even become so good at selling lies that they start to believe the false reality themselves. There are some people I know that I straight just do not trust. And for good reason. (No one reading this right now I'm sure.) And maybe you don't trust me. That's fine. Don't tell me though.

I know some people that I could be standing in the middle of a thunderstorm with, and they could tell me it is raining, and I trust them so little that my present logic would have to conclude that it was in fact not raining as my clothes get soaked wet.

On Facebook, we only post our best pictures and the coolest events we go to. It's basically a big pile of half truth. It is anything but reality.

Maybe you can call me cynical, and I wouldn’t be able to argue much. I could say, “Well, mama didn’t raise no fool.” And you could say, “That’s improper grammar.” You could also label me as someone who doesn’t have a lot of hope in people. I wish I could say that I’m willing to be in everyone’s corner and that universal supportiveness is something that I have down, but if I’m being honest with you, I don’t think I’m always the best cheerleader. Have you seen me in a skirt? Gross.

But if I could ask you to disregard your opinion of what some of my self-issues are for a bit, you’ve got to admit that most of us are pretty good at disguising things. It’s like we’re all in a game of hide-and-go-seek, and we’ve found the perfect spot to hide. (Which if you don’t know, that spot is under the sink in the cupboards.) Even though some of us can’t say two words of Shakespeare on a stage, it doesn’t mean we’re not good actors.

Why do we feel the need to wear masks and promote false reality? Why the constant pressure to add up to society’s standards? We all face it, and we all feel it. In an America that constantly preaches to “Be yourself,” we figure our best self is the self that looks like all the other selves.

The people that say “I don’t care what people think of me” most likely care what you think of them enough to tell you that they don’t care what you think. (You may have to read that last sentence twice, but trust me it makes sense.) We care. And we want to keep up.

But why do we want to?

Perhaps it is the thrill of a Facebook status change. The excitement of being included. The same way it felt in elementary school when you weren't picked last for dodgeball. There is a rush. There is a high. There is joy in similarity. There is comfort in commonality. It’s the feeling you get when you’re in a movie theater laughing at the same joke with 150 other people that you don’t know, but it feels good that you all have the same sense of humor, even if it’s just for a moment.

I'm not going to act like I haven't done it. Not too long ago when I was unemployed, I had people asking me all the time the dreaded question of “How are things going?” In many, many moments my honest answer would have been “Bad. Horrible. I hate life right now. I’m very jealous of other people. I think God is laughing at me.” But who wants to hear that? I didn’t want to hear myself say the truth. So I would pick at any inkling of hope I could pull out of the weeds and act like it was something better than it was.

I wasn’t lying, but I was trying my hardest to keep up with who I thought people wanted me to be, and worse, who I thought I should be. I was embarrassed. Ashamed that I couldn’t pull off the American Dream. I didn’t want people to know that you could suck at life so badly while trying so hard. Yeah, embarrassing.

I’m not the only one to do that, though. We present the world a false reality, and unfortunately many times we think it looks like a good place to be, and we subconsciously start living in that new world. (It’s taking everything in me right now to not allude to “Inception.”)

We wear the masks. We shine our shoes. We look the part. We practice our speeches about how everything is just as it should be. And by doing so, the places we should be most real become the places where we hide the most. The ones we need to be the most real with become the ones that we skew the truth to the most. But make no mistake, fake personalities and fake realities will produce fake relationships.

I’m not against positive thinking and relentless optimism; I’m actually 100% for it. What I am against is lying to ourselves. I am against being ashamed of the very trials that are defining moments in our lives. I am against the thought that if you face any sort of conflict or struggle then you are doing something wrong in life. I am against hiding the wounds we were never meant to hide. I am against keeping in the pain that someone else going through the same situation needs to see so they know they are not alone.

If you’ve read this far, I thank you. If you haven’t then you are not reading this. But for those that are not Christians, I am telling you now I am about to start talking about Jesus. Deal with it. I have to read all of your statuses about politics and equality. If you shut out my views right now you are doing exactly what you say you are against. (Ahhhh yeaaahhhh. That’s a mother-in-law quality guilt trip right there.)

When did having it all together become the goal of life? When did weakness become embarrassing? In fact, the Apostle Paul even went so far as to boast in his weakness. (2 Corinthians 11:30) I used to hear that God doesn’t want you to be embarrassed, but I’ve since concluded that that is bad doctrine. In fact, if my life is any form of proof, I feel I can say that God will allow you to be embarrassed quite a bit, because nothing will kill your pride faster than a nice fall on your face.

If you think humility is for chumps then you are dead wrong. Constant success never changes a man for the good. How many arrogant people do we have to see fall and fail before we realize that chasing after the same image will bring about the same results?

Broken people need broken people.
How do I know?

Isaiah 53:2-3
“He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.”

It’s amazing that we have a God who exchanged majesty for suffering, a King who was rejected by the ones he loved, and a Savior who knows the deepest of sorrows. He not only rescues us, he relates with us.

It actually takes a lot of strength to show your weakness.

2 Corinthians 12:9
But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’”