Stop pretending: Part 1 - Hope 103.2

Stop pretending: Part 1

Morning Devotions is for those curious about the Christian faith and who want to explore Christian issues that relate to their daily life.

By Chris WittsFriday 11 Apr 2014Morning Devotions with Chris WittsFaithReading Time: 0 minutes


Back in 1980 I remember seeing the movie Ordinary People,that captured the attention of moviegoers and critics alike. It was quite an interesting film starring Mary Tyler Moore and Don Sutherland and was directed by Robert Redford.  It was the story of a “typical” family living in the suburbs of Chicago.  The film begins after the older of two sons had been killed in a drowning accident that was caused by his own foolishness.  The younger son is racked by guilt,so that increasingly he finds that he is unable to cope with life.  The mother is domineering.  The father is weak.  In the end,the younger son attempts suicide and the father leaves home. It was a sad movie,if not a tragic story of what goes wrong in a family,where mistakes are made. I guess all families have their share of bad news,even secrets they’re not prepared to talk about .. there is some level of dysfunctional  behaviour  in every family,no matter how together they seem to be.

Some families will do anything to pretend everything is fine,when in fact the opposite is true. Why do we so often play a game of make believe by pretending “everything’s fine” when it’s really not. Many of us don’t want others to think our lives (or members of our family) are in a mess. Very often we hide what’s inside our lives,and we want everyone to think we have “it all together”. We want to look good,like everything is all right. So,we put on a mask.

One of our standard greetings to each other is,”How are you doing?” and we’ve come to expect everyone to answer with,”I’m okay.” Rarely does someone tell you more than that. In fact,it startles us when someone does; when they actually stop to tell you details,especially if they tell you how they really are. We go to great lengths to protect and preserve our good images. The rich and famous hire image managers and attorneys to hide their messes. The rest of us have to manage it on our own. We learn early in life how to put our best foot forward,how to write resumes that highlight our successes and hide our failures. No-one wants to admit they are a failure .. so all too often we pretend.

Even in the church & Christian community,we play a game of pretence. Our desire to maintain our image,to be self-sufficient is strong. Being independent and self-reliant is a quality we value. We teach it to our children. Remember the children’s book  The Little Engine that Could. Facing a huge mountain with a heavy load to deliver,the little engine just kept repeating to himself,”I think I can,I think I can,I think I can,” and sure enough he made it over. We like to think no mountain is too high for us,that with the right amount of effort we can conquer anything on our own. And if we fail,we pretend everything’s fine. But of course it’s not.

I think we should take seriously what the Psalmist David  said in Psalm 51:6 in his own prayer to God. I think we should make it our own prayer each day “But You want complete honesty,so teach me true wisdom”. God wants us to be honest with Him and with each other,and to stop pretending. Most Ministers know that  the most effective ways to get a person in crisis to open up was to ask that standard question I mentioned earlier,”How are you doing?” And when they said,” Okay,” and if they knew very well they were far from okay,the Pastor would  ask them another question,” Yes,but would you tell me if you weren’t?” Often this was all that was needed for that person to open up and tell the true story of  what was happening on the inside,what was in their heart. The world wants to know that someone cares about them .. that they are not alone in their worries,problems or sins.

Why not start praying to God .. because in prayer  we’re able to come to God just as we are,the masks we wear for the world can all come off,there’s no need to worry about protecting our image,God knows everything anyway,he knows our hearts. In prayer we can let our guard down and be who we really are before the one who loves us unconditionally. In those moments of openness and stillness He says ” Why are you running from this? Let me share this pain with you. Let me take this burden.”

There’s a verse in the New Testament from  I Corinthians 10.13. The loose translation that is this ..  “God doesn’t give us any more than we can handle.” it seems to me that lots of people get more in life than they can handle. I think the real issue isn’t the size of the problem but the means through which the problem’s solved. The fact that there are burdens we find difficult to face doesn’t mean these burdens are too much for us,it just means we’re relying only on “me.” instead of allowing Jesus Christ to enter our inner being. He brings inner healing and restoration as we face up to what is really going on.

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