Bri Johns – Student Ministries Pastor
Fake it ’til you make it. This common expression has been around for years. Basically, it means that you’ve got to imitate confidence until it eventually generates into real confidence. I read this phrase in a book over the summer while I was on maternity leave with my second child, Deacan (now 8 months). It was a snarky “how-to-be-an-awesome-working-mom” type book with tips and tricks on surviving and juggling two full-time jobs – one occupational, one calling. The authors of the book (a collection of working moms in all types of vocations) shared ideas from grocery shopping with an ice chest in the car on your lunch hour, to pumping (ladies you know what I’m referring to here) in between meetings and not messing up your shirt. At the very end of the book I was left with one golden nugget, “If all else fails, fake it ‘til you make it. And for goodness sake, never cry!”
I re-entered work with this mantra, “Fake it ‘til you make it.” “Don’t cry.” I woke up every morning and got ready for my day – shower, hair, makeup, pump, both babies up (my other child, Brody, is 2 years old), diapers, bottles, Sesame Street, notes for the babysitter, chop up veggies and meat for the crockpot, throw together something that resembles breakfast for myself, or skip, pray no one poops or vomits before we get into the car, drive to the sitter’s, drop the babies off and pray for no separation anxiety, get back in the car, drive to work, pray there’s no traffic so I’m not late and look unprofessional, run into my first meeting feeling like I already ran a marathon, pump after, work the entire day, pick up the kids, screaming all the way home, run into the house to desperately throw food together for everyone so the screaming can stop (please make it stop), pump/nurse, hang with the kiddos and hubby for an hour, bath time, bedtime, pump, hang with the hubby, and hopefully sleep, unless I’m being foolish and squandering my precious me-time on Pinterest or Facebook or TV or even online banking. This never ends well because the babies will always wake up, oh yes, they will. Wake up (hopefully with no midnight interruptions and at least five hours of solid rest) and do it all over again.
I would run into the amazing people I get to work with at Central every day who all would have the same caring and sincere question for me, “So, how are you doing???” Without hesitation I would reply, “I’m doing great!” I really wanted to show that I could handle all of this life stuff. But as time went on, I grew tired, irritable, depressed, and lonely. Deep down I wanted to scream, “Someone rescue me!” Faking it left me feeling isolated, alone, exhausted, and disconnected. And man, I wanted to cry! And did. I couldn’t keep my game face on for very long. The dark circles and sunken-in eyes were a dead giveaway. My emotions were raw. A month after trying to keep up this “faking it” nonsense and I eventually cracked. And sobbed. My incredible co-workers and friends were right there to scoop me back up, buy me a Red Bull, share their common stories, and cheer for me to not give up. I knew my circumstances weren’t going to change much, but finally opening up gave me the freedom to be myself, to be loved and supported.
Ladies, why do we feel like we need to do it all on our own and mask how we’re really feeling? Are we afraid of being perceived as failures? Are we afraid of being judged? Are we trying too hard to be like the perfect mom, wife, friend or businesswoman we see on Facebook (my friends, we are ALL so fake online) that we end up killing ourselves? Are we afraid we might crack and lose it? Are we scared to reach out and feel even more alone?
I’m not going to get all preachy here because I know how hard we already are on ourselves. But if I was to sit on a couch with you over coffee, I would want to encourage you by saying, “Be your strong, courageous self, and do all of the work that you’ve got to do, but don’t neglect the fact that you are human and you need help.” The most amazing part about being a woman is that we can multitask, nurture, create, find purpose and passion in almost anything, run a home like a business, inspire our friends, and encourage our husband and children. But we can’t do ANY of that without embracing exactly who we are and where we are, and we cannot do it alone. Our confidence comes not from “faking it,” but from embracing struggles and having the courage to say, “This is me. All of me.” and letting others love, encourage, and support us in that.
I am so blessed to have amazing friends in my life who let me be me (initials here: LV, BG, DS, CM, LW, LJ, RD; you know who you are). They love and support me without getting anything in return (because I have nothing to give). They bring over a meal. Bring me Starbucks. Take a child (or two) for an hour to give me a break. Watch the babies so Jake and I can have a date night. Tell me, “Hey, I get you.” They take the edge off a hard day, or month. They text me a Scripture or note. They make me a better person, pastor, wife, and mother because they hold my hands up and tell me not to give up. These awesome friends are the Aaron and Hur in my life, two men highlighted in Exodus 17 for helping Moses keep his hands in the air so that the Israelites could beat the Amalekites. Such a cool story. When the Amalekites attacked the Israelites, as long as Moses’ hands were in the air (a sign of prayer), the Israelites were winning. But once his hands grew tired and lowered, the Amalekites were winning. Eventually, Aaron (Moses’ brother) and Hur stayed up on a hill holding Moses’ hands up all the way until sunset, and the Israelites overcame the Amalekites.
Who are you allowing to hold up your hands in life? Do you need to ask for help? Do you need to stop pretending like you have it all together? We have amazing Life Groups and Bible studies in our church for just that (Stepping Stones, Iron Man for you guys, Parenting and Marriage Workshops). Please don’t neglect this support we’d love to give you as a church family.
If you’re not in this season of crazy, maybe you’ve already been through it, who do you need to be an Aaron and Hur to? There are girls out there like me who are desperate for it. You could be an incredible blessing to someone just by saying, “Hey, I get you.”
And let US consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another-and all the more as you see the Day approaching.