Thursday, April 9, 2015

Real Life Pretending

When I was little I was always pretending. I was Laura Ingalls in Little House on the Prairie. I was a pirate on a ship at sea. I was fighting off the bad guys that attacked the fort. Always the heroine of course, because who pretends to be the bum on the couch who only plays video games?  No one wants the uninteresting life until they realize how much work an interesting life requires. There are many struggles because the struggles make the story. 

An interesting life involves a lot of learning and sometimes in the least desirable way. An interesting life is uncomfortable. You can't just coast through on what you already know how to do or sit in an easy place emotionally. You will constantly be pushed and pulled out of your comfort zones. You'll carry emotions that you would rather not and you'll learn to keep working while you figure it out instead of putting life on hold until everything is right again. 

Pretending isn't gone once you're an adult. There are bad kinds of pretending. The "pretending I have it all together." No one does. The "pretending I'm in control of my life and what happens." Even you know you're not. Pretending can show up in a bad way that keeps us from being authentic and real and genuine. When we are inauthentic we lose credibility. Instead of someone looking at our lives and seeing the work and the effort and the ache of living they see an unrelatable pretense and it turns them off. We can't teach them anything we should be learning. We can't encourage them where they are. We can't even direct them to other people who can. We have no influence in pretense.

Pretending can be a very good skill to keep cultivating once you are grown. Our words speak life or death into our own lives. What we say becomes part of our reality. That sounds spooky, doesn't it? It works like this: what we say is what we think about. What we think about becomes part of who we are. What do you say to yourself every day? Do you complain about the work your children require? Do you continually sigh that your children will never learn and the effort to teach them might be a waste of time? Do you tell yourself that your life and your work doesn't matter, like you know more than God? If you tell yourself those things you need to try pretending. 

Use pretending to your advantage. If you've never tried this, you're going to write me off as crazy. Don't. Try it for a week and see what happens. And know that the more you do it the better you get and the more it helps you. 

This works for big things that are true even though we don't always see them. And it works for little things that just aren't true even if we believe they are.

Pretend you got enough sleep. (All the mamas laughed!) This means you don't whine about how little you slept. You don't stop and think, "Oh, if only I were sleeping more" or "I can't do that until I'm sleeping more." No, think about what you would do if you were getting enough sleep and then do that. Of course take the practical measures to get more sleep. Grab a nap when the kids are napping. But quit handicapping your thought process. Pretend. 

Pretend that you are a professional writer/artist/musician/whatever you love. How would that change how you approached the work? Would you get up early and write before the kids got up if you were a professional? Would you make time to practice if you were a professional? Would you change how you thought about yourself and your art if you were a professional? You can even take this a step farther in determining how to act. "If I were the best mom that God would have me be, how would I act?" "If I were glorifying God with my words, what would I say here?" It can change your life. 

Pretend that you are doing important work and that lives are depending on you. (Oh wait, you really are!) Pressure isn't always a bad thing. If I'm being operated on, I want my doctor to feel pressure to do his best and do it right. I should feel pressure to lean into God's strength and wisdom to work with this family. I should feel pressure to learn time management so that I can do the things God has called me to do. (Not everything; just God's work for me.)

Pretend that you matter. Because you do. God created you on purpose with a purpose. Don't speak death words about your life not mattering and no one seeing you and how you only have 15 Twitter followers. Don't worry about that. Realize your life is important if you are glorifying God with it. Do your best work. 

What about you? Do you pretend in order to teach yourself truth? 

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