What is fake? I struggle with the idea of people being perceived as fake, especially in the church. This has been on my heart for some time now and I had this whole thing typed and ready to post when I hesitated. It sparked a long conversation between a good friend and I. But I held on to my words thinking I did not need to share…until last night’s Bible study. We are doing a study by Angela Thomas called “Living Life as a Beautiful Offering” and what did she talk about this week? The fake smile. Yup. How we have all gotten so good at it. How we go through the motions and put it on so no one sees our truth. Our brokenness. Our hardships. Our hurts. We want so much for someone to see past that smile and just scoop us up and know what’s on our hearts but we bury our struggles for whatever reason. Pride, shame, or for some, just not wanting to be a burden on others. The point is, we don’t know what’s behind that smile. We don’t know the driver behind why they hide their struggles. Only God knows their pain and hardships and he wants them to come to him with it. He wants to cut right through that fake smile and into their soul and comfort them.
So when I see that smile, I know it all too well. Yes I smile a lot. Heck I’ve got a lot to smile about. I’m very blessed. But I smile just as much because I’m pushing down a hardship too. A hurt. Brokenness.
So what is fake? Is it fake when you turn on a smile and take a deep breath and walk in a public place…anywhere, much less a church? I say no. Why? Well because I don’t see a fake smile. I see struggles. I see real as real can be. I see reality because at any given point I have been or may be right there in those shoes, with that same forced smile. I see the single mother struggling to get homework done, supper cooked, baths taken, ball games, dance practices and bed times met, I see the father without work trying to figure out how he is gonna make ends meet for his family this week, I see the woman writhing in pain over a disease that has taken over her young body, I see the addict that is struggling to overcome an addiction so he smiles as to not draw attention as he prays to God to take this from him, I see an embarrassed mother dealing with a toddler in the middle of a tantrum, I see men and women leaving their own families week after week to reach out to do ministries for other people’s children and other men & women just to try to make an impact and effect change in the lives of others despite illness and pain that is going on at home. And all the while, I see smiles on these people’s faces…every.single.one. Why? Not because there is not hardships in their lives. Because they are happy in Christ. They have chosen to press forward. To cast their burdens on him. To not carry them on their own. To not burden others with them. To be a light to the world. If that is fake, sign me up. In my discussion with my friend they brought up a valid point, what about those that appear to be one in one environment (at church for example) and another way somewhere else (like at work)? Well to that I say perhaps they are being who they strive to be, the best version of themselves at church or in the positive environment they are comfortable in and then when they are not in an environment where they feel supported they don’t feel as strong. They want to be but they are just not there yet…it doesn't mean they don’t want to or that they aren’t trying…maybe they just aren’t there yet. We are all on our journey. We all struggle.