Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Smile Like You Mean It

Pretend you're happy when you're blue

It isn't very hard to do

And you'll find happiness without an end

Whenever you pretend…

Remember anyone can dream

And nothing's bad as it may seem

Every morning, I listen to music when I get ready for work. My iPod is usually on shuffle. (I’m a risk-taker like that.) The other day, Nat King Cole’s song, ‘Pretend,’ came on. Some of the lyrics are above.

I was appalled.

Pretend you’re happy when you’re blue? Why on earth would I do that?
You'll find happiness without an end whenever you pretend? Seriously?

Lies, Nat. Lies.

Let’s face it and own up to a fact that every single one of us knows: Sometimes life’s circumstances suck.

Are we supposed to just pull a Pollyanna and pretend everything’s hunky dory like Nat suggests? As Christians, aren’t we supposed to be cheerful and happy all the time? Should we just swallow trite responses to our pain, confusion, and hurt...seemingly helpful responses like “Just trust God” or “Rejoice in all things”? (Those are good words of advice, by the way, but often not timely advice. When we’re in pain, we need comfort and compassion, not an easy fix or overly optimistic clichĂ©.)

Yes, it’s true that Paul found the secret to finding joy in all circumstances, but I don’t think that meant he was fake with his emotions. And I don’t think God wants us to be fake, either.

I wish I was more complicated and mysterious (kind of like Spock in the new Star Trek movie), but the reality is that I wear my feelings on my sleeve. People who don’t even see very often always know when something’s bothering me. Sometimes I hate that my emotions are so transparent. Sometimes I don’t want you to know what I’m feeling.

Why is that? Is it uncool to be transparent? Is it really that dangerous to be real? Doesn’t everyone want to be known and understood? So, why do we make it so difficult on ourselves?

Be real with your emotions. Our God is an emotional God who has experienced anger, pleasure, and everything in between. And he made us in his image, which is why we experience emotions. God cares about our emotions as well. Psalm 34:18 reads, “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Wow! Pouring out our feelings to God is a healthy thing and helps us rely on his power and make room for him to heal us.

Sometimes I get frustrated that I can’t hide my feelings better. But then I wonder why I’d even waste my time trying to do that in the first place. I want to be authentic and understood. And that means being real.

No more pretending, Nat...

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