Fake It ‘Till You Make It

God loves you unconditionally, as you are and not as you should be, because nobody is as they should be. ~Brennan Manning

Fake it ’till you make is a popular catchphrase in successful sales programs and some good recovery programs. It hasn’t, however, worked well for me as a spiritual practice.

I took a special math test in 7th grade. I scored high enough to be in the small group that were ‘fast-tracked’. That meant skipping 8th grade math and going straight to Algebra. I was a good student. It would have been great except I really didn’t get math.

From Algebra all the way through Calculus, I was completely lost so I faked it. It’s tricky, faking math. There aren’t any subjective Blue Book exams. There was a right answer, period.

Mr Huth, who sang at weddings and taught all of the advanced math classes, had only one struggling student (me) and one solution. I’d ask a question after class (not during because everyone else got it) and he’d send me home with his Teacher’s Guide. We did that same dance for 5 years.

I had the problem. I had the solution. I had no idea how to get from one to the other so I memorized everything. I memorized pages and pages of sample work and applied it well enough to maintain a B. I tried. I listened. I took notes that I didn’t understand and I faked it.

The same+ b = c  happened to me when I was on the spiritual ‘fast track’. I’d have (a) problems and (c) The Answer Book. I tried so hard. I listened. I took notes. I memorized Scripture. Still, I often didn’t (b) know how to make real life equations work.

Everyone else seemed to be getting straight A’s so I faked it. I didn’t fake my faith – that was real. But I substituted what I truly thought and felt for how I thought I should think and feel. I gave all the right answers until I was numb.

We long to know the grace and mercy of God in our lives but we find ourselves tripped up by failure, by temptation, by ambivalence. Fearing disappointing others and the ensuing pep talk (usually a scriptural exhortation) and the have more faith talk. Or worse, that internal voice that says you (and you alone) aren’t getting it right, compelling us to continue to fake it ’til we make it.

The message of grace shatters our fake facade. Grace says:

(aGod loves us as we are  + (b) not as we should be  = (c) because no one is as they should be

Grace frees us to love each other as the Father loves us. We can weep with those who weep because real people weep. We can rejoice with those who rejoice because we’re freed from self-obsession.

No grades, just grace.

Author: Debbie

A former counselor and public speaker, I'm grateful for many, many things - God's grace most of all!

48 thoughts on “Fake It ‘Till You Make It”

  1. Oh wow, I love that! “No grades, just grace.” Sweet! Because I’m taking college courses again, it’s like my life revolves around my grades right now. I need to get those As and take advantage of increased knowledge!, I tell myself. But my “me-mind” says, “I can’t hack it! Enough! My brain’s burnt to a crisp now! No more information!” Which is where grace is most definitely needed. Grace sure comes along with a whole relieving amount of peace.

    1. Hello sf and thank you so much for ‘gracing’ us with your thoughts here.
      I can remember well the days (years) of my life that seemed to revolve around grades and papers and finals! At the time, I thought that once I was out of college, life will be so much easier. I couldn’t wait to not have that feeling of always having something ‘hanging over my head’.
      I had no concept of grace back then – or peace, for that matter.
      You’re so much further down the road already! Good for you.
      May God’s grace engulf you and draw your weary brain into His rest.
      Thank you again for sharing a bit of your life with us.

  2. Thanks for sharing, Dearest Debbie

    “Grace frees us to love each other as the Father loves us.”
    And if we really get that, then it is hard not to love as He loves, isn’t it? … [Sometimes I think I get it, at other times, I’m not so sure.]

    Thankful that He does not hold my faults against me.

    I seem to suddently hear Evie or Sandi Patty in my head singing ‘My Tribute’… To God be the glory, indeed!


  3. I’ve always preferred the phrase, “ACT IN THE FACT” If I act in the truth that doesn’t seem true, instead of the lie that seems true; then by investing treasure in the truth, my heart will follow and slowly the truth will not only be true but seem true as well.
    Like what? I am immortal, of infinite worth, tied into infinite power, caught up in unlosable love, dead to sin, alive to God. etc

    1. Hello Sammy and welcome to TMG!
      Brennan is one of my favorites, too.
      We seem to have a tendency to make grace into something esoteric while Brennan dedicated his ministry to showing just how accessible it is. 😀

  4. The last ten days have been frustrating, to say the least. Out on the patio this morning I had just finished up my first cup of coffee while enjoying the beauty of nature and the glory of God. I started off praising but soon began to scrutinize everything that has been said and done. Satan was beginning to win the day. As I came to make that second cup I was impressed to simply check my e-mail. So glad I did !! Thank you for the Brennan Manning quote. I needed to be reminded. I needed someone to grab me by the shirt collar and yank me back before I fell into the pit.
    Grace. It is so beautiful. No need to pretend that we have it all together and know all the answers. Freedom to be myself…… a child of God on a journey toward home.
    you have a gift precious sister. My our Heavenly Father bless you today and always.

    1. Leslie –
      You have no idea what a gift you’ve given me!
      Thank you for your kind words.
      Brennan had a glimpses of grace few ever get, it seems. I’m so grateful that he shared those with us!

  5. Oh YAY! I’m so glad I finally got the cobwebs off my “reading” eyeballs to catch up with you. I have missed your gentle, kind and wise words EVER-SO-MUCH. Thanks to the longer days, I was able to get up at 5:00 and start RE-fixing a shirt for Don. I rue the day I decided to shorten his sleeves from the cap. NOTE: Always be sure you know the best result before you CUT FABRIC! That’s one area where you can’t really “put stuff back” or “fake it”. Once you’ve cut the fabric … “it gone”. Argh.

    However, at least you kept going (with faith/hope/religion) and MATH. Funny, I started out getting math also, and at the almost exact time I decided I liked to curl my hair and hang out with my girlfriends and boyfriends rather than study and believe in God. Neither one of these topics proved to be loving. Both started punishing me.

    I’ve heard it said that “should” is a nasty word. For me, “should” = “guilt”. There is a lot of stuff I should and/or shouldn’t do that only saps my joy.

    I SO MUCH want to be joyous with the joyful (losing self-obsession and recriminations) and I know I’ve mastered empathy and can be a strong advocate with the helpless. Actually, I “but in” where I see meanness and cruelty which gets me in trouble.

    So, the goal is to not get pissed off at people who seem joyful. I will TRY to cheer for the cheerful even if I AM NOT … and even if their zippy personalities irritate me. I will try not to judge people who can “fake: OK”.

    I have always appreciated people who can tell me the down and dirty. Maybe just because i can relate. HOLY COW, what a rant!

    OK, so the challenge: Be happy for people who “act” happy? Or are trying to be happy? Do any of use truly have joy? I’m REALLY asking, Debbie? Love you so much.

    Tell me what months you’re going to Oregon. My Uncle Owen who lived in Gold Beach, OR all his live (50+ years) died 3 months after his sister, my mom. My Aunt Cleo still lives there (I think). I will come to see you, Heidi Ho, Henry and Jen. I’m already planning and CANNOT wait. We should take a mini-trip to Bend as well.

    Again, much love, Melissa

    1. Mel –
      Whew! Good questions!
      I don’t think I can do justice to all of these but I’ll take a stab at a couple.

      “Should” is post-worthy. I may write about that some more later. Many (I fell deeply into this category) have too often been guided by the Holy Should instead of the Holy Spirit.
      I don’t mean to be offensive and I hope this comment isn’t, but I believe it’s all too easy to replace the promptings of the Spirit with the pressure of peers (friends, family, work, church etc…).

      As for being happy with the happy, I say, ya – go for it.
      Whether the person is genuinely happy for feigning happiness isn’t really for our business.
      There are people who seem a little too-too chippy, 😀
      but I can’t see any value in tamping that down.

      I know you’re a true champion of the down-and-out. I love that about you! Weeping with those who weep is strangely easier than rejoicing with those who rejoice sometimes, isn’t it?

      As for true joy – yes, I believe some do have it. True joy, yes,
      But not perpetual happiness which is an entirely unattainable state if we are even remotely engaged in our own life and the lives of others.

      Now, I’ve written a response longer than my post. 😀
      Thanks for keeping me on my toes!
      Love and grace to you, dear Mel!

      1. Sorry to make you write much more than you planned to, or wanted to. I’m probably not as miserable as I claim, but to tell you the truth, I don’t take my temperature much anymore. Joy … i’m going to work on it. I think too much. Ask Heidi Ho! I’m convinced that I freaked her out good and proper yesterday. We may have a parade today that keeps me from seeing Angela, which wouldn’t be too great. How ’bout those Blackhawks?!

  6. Thank You!! That was wonderful as usual. I still spend a lot of time faking it, but know God loves me as I am. His grace is awesome.

    1. Dearest Sister of mine –
      Well, yes, you and I took the Master Class in Faking It, didn’t we? But how sweet that we both finally know that He loves us just as we are!
      (and I love you, too, by the way!)

  7. Standing up and applauding (can you see me?), shouting AMEN because everything you say is good and true. But the song playing in my head is Smokey Robinson’s hit, “Tears of a Clown”. God bless you BIG–love, sis Cj

    1. dearest Cj –
      So that was what all that ruckus was last night!!! 😀

      Of course, now you have Smokey Robinson spinning a sad tale in my jukebox brain. You’re right, the lyrics fit…

      “Now if there’s a smile on my face
      It’s only there trying to fool the public…

      Now if I appear to be carefree
      It’s only to camouflage my sadness…

      Just like Pagliacci did
      I try to keep my surface hid
      Smiling in the public eye
      But in my lonely room I cry
      The tears of a clown

      We do try to keep our “surface hid” (or whatever lies below), don’t we, friend, with all that smiling?

  8. Wonderful, you “get” the faith answers now I’m thinking. Your inspired writing touches many while revealing your own not so easy journey…making your thoughts that much more valid.
    Thanks for being a great tour guide and cheering section, for all those needing a little of this, and a little of that.

    God bless sister

    1. Lori – thank you.
      Stories are the way I learn (or at least retain) the best.
      If I can associate a principle with an emotion, I’m so much more likely to remember it. I appreciate straight teaching but most often I’m quick to forget the point.
      Based on the comments I get here, I seem to sometimes sidetrack people with my stories.
      I’m so glad you’re tracking with me! 😀

      1. I personally love the story comparisons and metaphors. I’ve read many “how to” books with instructions and lost interest in those after a while. They got boring. I find a story/metaphor inspires me more. IOW, yes, I do track with you and appreciate it too.

  9. I never understood algebra. My teacher, full of grace, Miss Gwyn, gave me red E-minuses. That means I failed, Only by the grace of Gwyn did I pass. I didn’t even try math in college. I took a survey course of great mathematicians just to get the 5 credits I needed to graduate. I have seen so much of God’s grace in my life I wouldn’t be able to journal it all if I lived another hundred years. Thank you for sharing. BTW, I think the correct answer to your math problem in your illustration is: pie are squared. That’s my best guess. God bless.

    1. Well hello my Sabbatical Friend!
      I can’t believe you tried to (and possible succeeded in) solving my math problem! 😀
      My Algebra is so weak that I had to Google math problems to even come up with a plausible equation for those who might look at it with some knowledge.
      I love the idea of your journals filled with grace upon grace.
      It’s a lovely thing to picture!

  10. I loved this, gracious one . .. no grades, just grace. 😀 You always know what we need .. .grace! So good to read a post from you again! love you and God bless you!

  11. loved this. absolutely loved this. but sad for all the years you were on stage….but nothing is wasted in God’s timing. love you. gg

    1. oh sweet gaye –
      I love your tender heart. No one forced me to perform – that was all my doing. I honestly didn’t know how much I was intimating and emulating what I “thought” I saw instead of initiating and engaging with the Father’s heart.
      All is grace! 😀

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