When I was younger I liked to play pretend. I had pretend friends, pretend tea parties and even dressed up as pretend people. I would escape reality and fall into a fun pretend world. I controlled the setting, what my “friends” said and was the author in my pretend story. Unfortunately, as an adult, this pretend world did not end. My childlike activities continued into my adulthood.
Since I was shy, I often found myself alone. I would go over situations in my mind over and over again. Many times it led me wondering what was reality and what was pretend. As a child this was ok. It was innocent, but as an adult it was me not participating in the real world and becoming selfish with my thoughts and fearful of being real.
My family has always had a history of pretending. These pretend games were passed down. I hesitate calling them games as that word is associated with fun. Pretending as an adult isn’t fun. It really is a problem. That problem was being authentic. My family liked to pretend to be perfect, when their home life was anything but. They liked to pretend to be something they were not, by hiding under fur coats and diamonds, while they couldn’t provide food for their family. These things all gave a feeling to others that they had it all together.
I found myself playing that game soon enough. Being real meant being honest and I wasn’t mature enough for the honest game. Playing pretend, left me lying about who I was and kept me very distant from people. The innocent pretending of my childhood became destructive lying in my adult years. I began to see it hurt those I cared and loved for. When I met my now husband it did not stop. I so desperately wanted him to think I was perfect. I put up a front. I lied about things…big things. It eventually ate at me so much I had to tell the truth. And this is so cliché, but the truth really does set you free. When you are honest, people respect that. No pretending. Honesty leads to intimacy. When I began to love the real me and share my real self, others opened up more and shared more with me. I did not feel so alone. I loved better.
This is still a battle. I am still learning to love the real me. I attend a church whose mission statement is to Be Real with Ourselves, God and Others. I have to say this made me very uncomfortable for a while. Everyone was so real and they were making real connections. Something I have not completely conquered yet. I had always judged people who were themselves. I realized I was so uncomfortable because it meant I had to open up and possibly be honest and others would see the real me. That can be scary, but as I said before honesty leds to true intimacy. When we are vulnerable in front of others it creates a bond like no other.
In 1 Samuel 16:7 God tells Samuel He “doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance but the Lord looks at the heart.”
It’s easy to try to distract others by looking like we have it all together, while we are falling apart inside. It can be a reply of “I’m fine”, when someone asks how you are. When really we are stressed beyond belief and not sure how much longer we can keep at this speed. Or maybe we are trying to keep up with our friends and start gathering things. Expensive things. We desperately want to fit in, but we are not able to pay our bills. We are hoping the flashiness of our new things distract from what is really going on. Or maybe we post cute pictures of our spouse and inspirational quotes about marriage while our marriage is close to being over.
Playing pretend. It’s not just a childhood game. We continue the fake, the lies and the hiding into our adult years. Just as we grow out of our childish ways, we should do the same as believers. As I grew in my faith, I realized the sins of my family and myself were foolish.
Ephesians 4:25 So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body.”
Colossians 3:9-10 invites us to “Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him.”
This can be a difficult process, but as a believer and being renewed it is much easier. I admit I still talk to myself. Probably enough to be committed! I still imagine and play pretend. Sometimes it is healthy and other times it is very destructive. I like to come back to these verses and the truth of God’s word. As I grow in knowledge, I see how much freedom there is in being honest with others, God and myself. Playing pretend needs to be saved for games with my son and not in adult relationships. We all are messy, but we are all loved by a God who wants us to take note on who he is. Being real and honest and not playing hide and seek(lets see how many other analogies I can use with childhood games) will allow you to create more deep and meaningful relationships. Which brings me to the end and my topic for next week’s post!