A Godly alternative to “fake it till you make it!”
Walks please me because as the peace and wind wash over me, I get to observe my surroundings and people. Whenever I pass by people, I ask questions like, “what is their life story? Are they okay right now? What are they up to? Are they running to something or from something?”
Last Sunday morning, I alighted at the usual bus stop to walk for fifteen minutes to church. I began striding and a few paces ahead, I saw a group of three gentlemen. One sat on a street bench holding a DSLR camera. He seemed to be giving camera-pose instructions. The other two stood at the next bench with their backs to everyone, hunching over it like two people that were hiding something.
That piqued my interest so I ‘casually’ threw glances in their direction. Once I caught up to them, I saw what they were doing; I nearly laughed and felt sad simultaneously. Of the two hunchbacks, one held a black liquor bottle…and not just any bottle…a Belaire Rose bottle. The other one held a transparent water bottle in his right hand. Mr. Belaire held his bottle below Mr.Water-bottle and Mr.Water-bottle filled the black bottle with water as they kept scanning behind their backs to check if anyone was watching.
“If only people knew what is in that liquor bottle!”
I briskly passed them, stifling my laughter but a few moments later, the sadness I felt earlier rushed back. Those guys were probably shooting a music video or taking professional photographs to eventually share with their ‘world’. I am a teetotaler so I know nearly zip about alcohol but the reason that the black bottle stood out to me was because in my past, I used to drink and watch Hip-hop/Rap music videos. In many of those videos, Belaire Rose was one of the expensive liquor bottles that many popular rappers flaunted.
Those guys would probably share photographs or videos of themselves ‘flexing’ with that expensive black bottle. Perhaps their audience would be attracted by how rich they appeared in that moment. I cannot speak to their intentions but perhaps they wanted to project “hype”? After all, if you can afford Luc Belaire, you are probably the clique to party with at the club right? If you can afford Luc Belaire, your music videos are probably the ones we should be watching right?
One person pretends to be rich, yet has nothing; another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth. — Proverbs 13:7 (NIV)
I know, I know…everyone has their own life to live and I should probably just let them be. However, that game of pretending to be something you are not began long ago. King Solomon observed it in his time on earth and he wrote the above proverb about it. However, in this world we live in, the format to ‘making it’ has become projecting anything even though it is all a facade. But, at what expense?
In many ways, the water bottle represents the real you. The clear water inside of it represents the essence of who you truly are…the life God graciously gave you when He created you. The expensive-looking Luc Belaire bottle represents the flamboyant persona many of us create by sheer force of will or imitation for the world to admire. Trust me, once you look at Luc Belaire’s website, those colorful, flamboyant bottles will stun you into admiration.
God created the real you, He breathed life into you and He is the one who sustains the real you. However, as I and many others have done many times before, if you decide to create another persona, you breathe a semblance of life into it, and you have to be the one that sustains it. You cannot create that persona and then ask God to sustain it. God cannot be mocked because both you and Him know that the persona is just a counterfeit…and God does not do counterfeits.
Since you cannot ask God to sustain the persona, you turn on yourself. Just as those guys poured the water into the expensive bottle, you start to pour everything you have into the facade you now need to maintain. By this time, you probably acknowledge that you are deceiving yourself by doing the most to become something you are not. You know this because you constantly look over your shoulder to see if anyone can pick apart your deception. To ignore any of those insecurities, you pour more of yourself into that persona because you desperately need others to believe it is the real you. You need to believe it is the real you. You do whatever it takes, even if it means living a lie.
When a bottle becomes empty, we throw it away because it likely serves no other purpose. As you pour more of your God-given life into the persona, it becomes you and you throw away the real you because you have emptied out who God created you to be. You probably will not remember where you threw yourself along the way, but eventually, as it always happens in this life, you will be reminded that there is something important missing.
It might be a brush with death that reminds you what really matters. You might lose the persona along with everything related to it in an instant. Something or someone will pull back the veil and you will find the real you: it will resemble a skeleton and the sight will horrify you. In that moment, you will feel broken but you will also feel a hollowness that will mock you because you will realize that you are responsible for where you are.
This time, you will desperately want to be the real you. It will not matter what everyone else thinks but you will want to feel alive again. You are not dead but you will label the feeling as death because of how dark it seems. With the persona gone, you will not be able to breathe life into the real you that is on life support. Frustrated, you will slip into a mental comatose. You cannot breathe life into the dying you because you are not the one that created you to begin with. It might become very easy to reach for the darkness because life will cease to have meaning. Into the downward spiral you might go.
May I submit to you that instead of reaching for the darkness, reach out to God. Whoever you are, call out to God. He is not blind that He cannot see what situation you are in. He is omnipresent and omniscient which means that he was there when you left the life He gave you to make your own. He was there when it all went away and He is there when you have to decide whether you will give up to the darkness or you will reach out to Him. He is also omnipotent which means that He can resurrect what you almost certainly believe is on its way to the grave.
All you have to do are two things:
1. Confess your sins and faults to God (which will need humility and take all your guts) by admitting that your game of pretending failed.
2. Ask God to take over and breathe life into you again.
God is a faithful God…and even though we may be disloyal to Him, He is faithful to show up for us when we call out to Him. That is what any loving Father does and even if you believe it or not, God loves you more than you know and there is nothing truthfully good He would not do for you. Moreover, God has always been and will always be willing to take you back when you have lost your way or you have fallen short, as all us humans do.
Once God takes you back, you will humbly admit that you do not know how to be yourself…but that’s okay. If you let Him, God will show you how to be the real you…the best version of yourself. Some days will be tougher than others but you will hold on to God and resist the urge to wear another veil. You will doubt if it will work out this time but that is okay too. The same God who will sustain your real life is the same God you can ask for the faith to believe in Him. You will take that faith seriously because this time, life will be too precious to discard like an empty bottle.
You will have faced and conquered the rock bottom of rock bottom and after graciously receiving another chance at life from God, you would rather die trying to be truly alive instead of pretentiously living your way to death.
If you think you are okay with sustaining the persona you create, you can keep at it, but remember that all along, God will be asking you to give up your way and give His Way a chance. It may go ‘alright’ with you for a while but what will happen when it all comes crashing down and it is too late for you to get another chance?
You and I only get one life. This is not a video game where you get to restart a level when you mess up. You could either play the game of pretending or you could ask God to show you how to be the person He created you to be. Remember, He made you, so He is definitely responsible for teaching you how to live that life He gave you.
Choose life, if you are willing.
God cannot bless where you pretend to be. — Pastor Michael Todd