The Problem with Fake It ‘Til You Make It

The Problem with Fake It ‘Til You Make It

The Problem with Fake It ‘Til You Make It

“Fake it ‘til you make it’ is a common phrase in today’s culture, which implies you should just do it—whatever it is—whether you feel like it or not, and let your feelings jump on board later. While this might be a decent work ethic in theory, the question remains—is it ethical? And more importantly, is it Biblical?

The definition of the word “fake” literally means “counterfeit.” Inauthentic. When you invest time into pretending to be someone you’re not, or feeling something you don’t feel, you’re using up any available mental and emotional space that could be used for authentic, genuine connections instead. It doesn’t seem like a smart trade. So, when you “fake it ‘til you make it,” you’re essentially relying on your own confidence and self-esteem to sustain you, rather than your identity in Christ.

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Called to Be Real, Yet Conforming to His Image

Called to Be Real, Yet Conforming to His Image

On the other hand, there's certainly some truth to the concept of acting now, and letting your feelings catch up later. This is an impasse I’ve been praying through for a while and is a topic a friend and I have been discussing at length lately. We both feel the same way—convicted about the whole concept of "fake it 'til you make it." We're both genuine people, and the dynamic of faking it—for however good a cause—feels wrong to us, even bordering on lying. Yet, we know there’s a certain tension between doing the right thing, regardless of our feelings, when it comes to obeying the Lord.

We have to be careful, because the other end of this spectrum thinks “Well, I don’t genuinely feel this way about X, so I won’t even try to feel otherwise.” Maybe you don’t “feel like” forgiving someone that hurt you, or “feel like” loving that difficult-to-love person, so you attempt to justify disobedience. That’s edging dangerously close toward the concept of obtaining a license to sin, which Paul specifically forbids in “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?” (Romans 6:1-2 ESV) You’re never excused from obeying the commands of the Bible because you don’t feel like it. 

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True Strength Comes from God, Not an Illusion

True Strength Comes from God, Not an Illusion

But the real meaning of the phrase “fake it ‘til you make it” isn’t usually in regard to lying, or even directly going against the Word of God—rather, it’s founded in the attempt to force something by our own means and effort. Whether that “something” is fame, status, respect, love, forgiveness, or confidence, it’s steeped in striving in our own power—and that effort will fail us every time. We’re not perfect, and we never will be this side of heaven.

Yet, it goes against our flesh to admit weakness. Our society thrives on the illusion of having it all together, but that’s not reality. It’s a distorted mirror, one that reflects the inner brokenness of our spirit in need of Christ. True strength is found in recognizing the Strong One, and giving Him glory.

“Even youths shall faint and be weary,and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:30-11 ESV)

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Uncover Your True Motivations

Uncover Your True Motivations

When you’re tempted to “fake it ‘til you make it,” what is your heart’s motivation? Are you trying to become more successful? Boost your own confidence? Climb the corporate ladder? Impress a man? If you’re feeling pressure or the urge to fake it, then odds are, you aren’t motivated to grow closer to the Lord and be further sanctified in Him at the same time.

Odds are, instead, you’re acting out of fear, insecurity, or doubt—which is acting out of the flesh. Resist the temptation to do so and walk in the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is authentic, and according to His word, He won’t lead us astray. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25 ESV).

Stay close to Him and His Word, and you will put to death the desire to make much of yourself. He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30 ESV).This command isn’t just to exalt God—it’s also for our good.

As sinful humans, we’re not meant to bear the weight of glory. When we strive to further ourselves, be it at work, in relationships, or even in ministry, we typically end up only hurting ourselves. We get stuck in the same exhausting pattern of effort, failure, defeat, shame… effort, failure, defeat, shame…We fall for the lie that we can “fake it” and eventually “make it” or “mean it” or “feel it.” When that feeling never comes, we blame ourselves, and maybe try a littler harder. But it still won’t work. Why? It’s not supposed to. We’re not meant to be self-reliant.

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Lean into the Blessing of Weakness

Lean into the Blessing of Weakness

We do, however, live in a world that applauds self-sufficiency. I can’t help but think that perhaps some of our struggles—some of the areas in which we feel less than and incapable—are actually gifts from the Lord. “Thorns,” as they were, to remind us of our need for Christ. If we were Super Mom or Wife of the Year or Employee Extraordinaire all the time, we wouldn’t cry out for the Lord to change us. To fix us. To mold us and conform us to His image.

No, instead, we would be relying on ourselves and bragging on our own ability, rather than clinging to and boasting in the Lord alone. Maybe “that Thing” you keep wishing your feelings would change about is a blessing in disguise—a blessing to guide you into deeper communion with the Lord and dependence on the Gospel to overcome what you can’t change.

“So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Corinthians 12:7-9 ESV)

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Truth Shines in a World of Fake

Truth Shines in a World of Fake

Not only do we live in a world that applauds self-sufficiency, we live in a world that celebrates fake—fake images on Instagram, fake body enhancements, fake smiles and fake laughs and fake self-image. Why would we, as believers in Christ, continue the charade? Why not instead shine the true, authentic, genuine love of Christ on those around us, and onto our problems?

Maybe our feelings toward That Thing won’t change overnight, but if they do, we know it’ll be the grace of God conforming us further to His image. We’ll give Him glory for the work He’s done, rather than pat ourselves on the backs for “grinning and bearing it” one more day. We’ll praise Him for His provision and mercy rather than stress-drink or stress-soak in a bubble bath. We’ll give Him the honor where honor is due, with all humility.

So don’t worry about “faking it ‘til you make it,” sweet sister. Being fake isn’t your goal. Making it isn’t your end game. Living freely and authentically in Christ as He finishes what He started in you, is. “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6 ESV).

Betsy_headshotBetsy St. Amant Haddox is the author of fourteen inspirational romance novels and novellas. She resides in north Louisiana with her newlywed hubby, two story-telling young daughters, a collection of Austen novels, and an impressive stash of Pickle Pringles. Betsy has a B.A. in Communications and a deep-rooted passion for seeing women restored in Christ. When she's not composing her next book or trying to prove unicorns are real, Betsy can usually be found somewhere in the vicinity of a white-chocolate mocha. Look for her latest novel with HarperCollins, LOVE ARRIVES IN PIECES, and POCKET PRAYERS FOR FRIENDS with Max Lucado. Visit her at http://www.betsystamant.com./

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