SIDE NOTE: Apologies for the hiatus – the semester has been hectic and manic. Thanks for sticking around and feel free to browse the archives for what you may have missed. Happy reading! 🙂
I have to admit, until recently, I was a big believer of the idea to ‘fake it till you make it’ in life. If you knew me a couple of years ago, back when my speech was crass and methodology unrefined, you will know that I have no qualms in arguing without necessarily holding an opinion; bickering just so I could have the last word. After all, how would the world know your presence if you refused to exert yourself? And how can you exert yourself without the relevant confidence? Realistically, you can’t know everything, and that’s where the ‘faking it’ part comes in. Carry yourself in your personal charisma, confidence and contentment. Play with words and expressions to favour your own argument. Sneaky, I know. Sorry.
There’s something stimulating about entering into a particular topic of conversation you may not be entirely familiar with, but testing to see if you can hold it out, even win over the audience. Call it a social experimentation, or a white lie, but I have tried multiple times to see if I can pull off going into something using what little I know, and come out of it ‘succeeding’ according to my own vague parameters. Maybe I was looking to convince my listener. Maybe I was trying to impress myself. Maybe I was genuinely curious and doing it for the noble pursuit of knowledge.
I think if you fast-forward to this day, it is slightly more apparent (to myself at least) that there is an underlying sense of dissatisfaction with myself and where I currently stand, no matter where that may be. There is a deep yearning to always gain the approval of those I mix with; the revered nod of someone more highly-accomplished; the thoughtful contemplation of a learned fellow. And I think if we examine ourselves, we will find this chasm that exists within us, a gaping hole that is not filled by the flowery compliments or even the high-calibre, intellectual sparring of words with those we admire. A gap so numb that we often dissuade ourselves to think that it isn’t there. But a drunken night, a moment of solitude, or a quiet moment of non-activity will easily resurface this. A brush with death will remind us of our mortality and the futility of what we do. What is the approval of man if it exists as dust, to be gone in the next phase of our lives?
And so, my motto has been twinged slightly ever since. It’s more than a play in semantics. There’s now a growing awareness in myself that faking it will end up breaking me. There is an acute perception that continuing these practices will wear me down. Constantly basing something so precious such as the worth of my life on something so temporal as my human calibre is the biggest contradiction I cannot seem to reconcile. Like fitting a circular block into a square hole. There’s a gnawing realisation that this gaping hole cannot be filled with fluff – the empty praises of man, it needs a substantial replacement. Something that will stand the tests of time, mortality and relativity.
And I guess that’s where my understanding of Jesus Christ comes in. And I know some will roll your eyes and say of course, a cop out answer. Turning to a religious figure or religion in order to sooth the stings of reality. But, is it really a cop out? I believe that everyone’s walk is highly personal, each one’s value system a cumulative effect of our personal experience. However, if we are indeed searching for truth (or at least a semblance of it), perhaps it’s time to (re)investigate the truth claims of a historical figure (if we’re not ready to believe Jesus to be God, at least), and see if there are merits in his teachings. What does he know about morality? What does he know about spirituality? And did he really, physically rise from the dead? (A deal-breaker for a lot of things.)
So, in the process of understanding Christianity and all of its teachings, its founder and its implications, I realise that all along I have been trying to find truth. A holistic truth that is able to transcend all the sub-par truths and half-lies I’ve been telling, both to myself and to others. I have also been in the quest for finding approval, both of myself and of others. In Christianity, if Jesus’ claims match up, I find both truth and approval. Truth that there is a God who cared, is caring and still cares for the world; and approval from this God that is demonstrated by His son Jesus Christ who has forgiven my wickedness and moral failures. If I believe in the truth claims of Jesus, I will have Him forever, to enjoy and worship.
And this has changed me quite radically, and quite fundamentally. Do I catch myself pursuing the approval of others? Sometimes. Do I feel inferior in the presence of certain groups or individuals? Yes, highly so. But do I need to fake it? The urge is slowly weaning from within me in certain circumstances. I’ve given up conjuring what I don’t have. And I no longer feel the need to do that, because in my hands and heart are a greater belief and firmer assurance of the truth and approval of a God who transcends the temporal, forgetful approval of man; and of a God who encompasses the truth that we may be seeking – the truth of our brokenness and rebellion, and His waiting forgiveness.