A few weeks ago my daughter confessed to the blogosphere that she’s a fraud, albeit an unintentional fraud.
Her neighbor wanted to take my granddaughter to Toys R Us with her girls and then out to lunch. She called Alison and apologetically admitted that she was planning to take the girls to McDonald’s.
“I find it amusing that she thinks we’re so health-minded that we wouldn’t dream of feeding our child McDonald’s,” she wrote on her blog, The Neurotic Housewife. “Au contraire. Somehow, through no effort of my own, I’ve managed to dupe my neighbor into thinking I am the epitome of healthy living (although I keep telling her otherwise). Sure, I exercise and drink green smoothies. But I also eat handfuls of chocolate chips with scoops of peanut butter straight from the jar.
“I’m not perfect and don’t have any desire to try and sell myself that way; that would take way too much effort. Besides, I’m a terrible liar. I’d like to pretend my faults away, but that wouldn’t be very real, would it? Every day is a struggle to avoid stuffing my face with snacks,” she wrote.
Alison went on to write about a web of healthy living blogs she reads daily. However, along with their information and inspiration, she also gets a heavy dose of condemnation and condescension, as if anyone who eats JIF peanut butter is sub-human. She wonders if these people are for real.
On a similar note, while cleaning out a stack of newspapers under my desk, one dated Dec. 23, 2004 had a story about those dreaded and dreadful holiday newsletters that serve as glowing boasts of achievements, fab vacations and too-cute-for-words antics of too-good-to-be-true offspring. The basic, pompous “We’re so wonderful, don’tcha want to be like us?” annual tome.
That’s how it is with some churches, or at least some church people. Imperfect people trying to present a perfect front, all in the name of Christianity, which isn’t true Christianity.
I’m not against presenting Christ as perfect or the Bible as the standard of holiness. What I am against is people trying to be something they’re not, which only makes them live under a heaviness of the guilt that comes with being a fraud.
Fraudulent living comes from knowing what we should be and aren’t but set out to “fake it ’til we make it.” The problem is, whenever we’re faking it, that’s what people see.
“I would hate to come off as that kind of person — on this blog or in real life,” my daughter wrote. “On the other hand, I find comfort in reading about the struggles other people face.”
There’s something deliciously satisfying about learning of a health-crazed food police’s secret stash of Kit Kat bars. The truth is, perfect people — aren’t.
That’s the beauty of the Bible. While it’s chock-full of wisdom and laws to follow, it’s also full of examples of people who royally screwed up and yet God continued to redeem them. That means there’s hope for me!
Whenever I’m feeling particularly fraudish, I like to remind myself that throughout the Old Testament God is called the “God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,” and referred to solely as the “God of Jacob” 15 times.
Jacob, although he was the patriarch of the 12 tribes of Israel, he was also a con artist, played favorites with his wives and children, feuded with his brother and got into a wrestling match with the angel of the Lord.
Abraham wasn’t so great either. He lied to Pharaoh, saying his wife was his sister. Isaac, Abraham’s son, also told some men that his wife was his sister.
Another “man after God’s own heart,” King David, was a wife-stealer and a murderer, yet he was chosen by God — and he was honest and authentic in his writings about his own sin and struggles. He never pretended to be anything other than his true self, a fallible man who needed God to save him from his sin.
While no one wants to hear only about a person’s failings and struggles, presenting only one’s achievements and glory moments is insincere. There needs to be a balance.
Maybe the goal of every Christian shouldn’t be perfection, but authenticity.
God perfects us as we live honest, authentic lives before him and before others. When we let others see who we really are, we can never be called a fraud.
It’s only fraudulent if we live any other way.