Krista McGee on Faking Emotion (To Be More "Christian")
Let’s get real a moment. Ever hid your true feelings about an event and just put on a happy face? Ever concealed the reality of what was going on in your heart from those around you? Ever faked being happy because that's what Christians are supposed to be?
Today we hear from YA author, Krista McGee on the importance of being completely honest. Because concealing the truth is one way of being dishonest. One way we do that is to conceal what is going on in our hearts.
Too often, this comes out in the Christian’s life when we fake being happy.
I know I’m guilty of it.
So, let’s take a good look at her words and ask the Lord to reveal ways we’re being dishonest, especially when we’ve crafted our dishonesty in such a way as to think it is better than truth. Read more to see what this looks like.
Krista McGee on Being Honest
This, I believe, is the key to our Christian walk.
I can tell you - honestly - that I’m guilty of being dishonest. We recently made a major move - from San Diego, California to Memphis, Tennessee. It wasn’t a move we wanted to make, but because of Covid, it was a move we had to make. When people asked how I was doing, I felt like I “had” to be positive: There are lots of great things about this move! We’ll be closer to family! Thomas, of all my kids, can totally handle switching schools his senior year! I was born in Memphis, it’s like coming full circle!
And while all those things are true, that isn’t the whole truth. In my room, I ranted about leaving a city I loved, cried about uprooting Thomas, mourned the loss of good friends.
And then, I realized, I need to rant to God. And I need to share with my godly friends what I was struggling with. We’re not meant to bear our burdens alone. In fact, when we do, those burdens turn into monster-sized killers that destroy our minds. But when we confess what’s in our hearts, those burdens lighten. It’s not that they disappear - the struggles are still there. But they’re manageable. And, through the power of the Holy Spirit, we can control them, rather than allowing our struggles to control us.
- Krista McGee, author of both YA contemporary and sci-fi novels.
What About Being Content in All Things?
Krista, that was convicting! Thanks for helping us dig deeper into ways we might be living dishonestly.
The biggest problem with this kind of thinking is, as she said, the fact that Christians feel like we are meant to see the upside of everything, even the bad situations in our lives. So we mask our discontent with fake happiness. Fake contentment.
So, how are we to manage bad situations honestly while still joyfully trusting God?
Are Christians allowed to be disappointed, disheartened, or even sad about bad situations?
First of all, consider this: God created us with the capacity to mourn and the capacity to rejoice. In fact, we probably all know there is a time for both (Ecc. 3:4). But just throwing that verse out there isn’t really helpful. How can we know when it’s a time to mourn or a time to dance with joy?
In order to keep a healthy perspective during difficult situations, we’ve got to ask God to help us see the bigger picture. We need to look for ways in which our situation can be for our good, part of a greater plan for God’s glory, or simply part of a trial that is meant to force us to trust God in ways we hoped we wouldn’t have to. This doesn’t mean the situation will suddenly be fun or even good while we’re going through it, but it helps us see that there is good in it, somewhere.
Krista accurately and rightly looked to the positives of her moving situation as ways to be joyful despite not wanting to move. But as we all often do, she used the positives of the situation to bury her sadness. Christian society seems to encourage this kind of thinking. Positive thinking has infiltrated the Christian way of life as a sort of cure-all for whatever we’re dealing with.
But positive thinking isn’t a magic fix. In fact, it conceals the truth.
As Christians, even when we purposefully look for the good in all situations, we still must be honest about what is going on in our hearts. This doesn't mean, however, that we should spew every emotion for all the world to see, just to make sure we're being honest about how we feel. Sometimes, what's in our hearts is not edifying to those around us--but that's not what we're talking about here. We're talking about the emotions we think we should hide, namely sadness or confusion or even possibly some types of anger, the emotions we think Christians shouldn't feel, but do.
Enter prayer and the church. Krista points out that these two avenues are the way we manage our displeasure and discomfort in the midst of trying to be positive.
God gave us the most beautiful avenue for communicating with Himself: prayer. And the wonderful thing about prayer is that God already knows our hearts and every word we’ll say to Him (Psalm 139:2-4). So, we can be honest with God. He expects it. He welcomes it.
I think you’ll find that simply confessing your true emotions to the almighty, sovereign God of the universe helps you face life with greater joy. If I tell God I’m really sad (and even a little mad) about having to do something I don’t want to do, then the weight of that emotion suddenly isn’t on me alone. When we confess the reality of our hearts to God, He can help us manage. He alone is the source of our strength anyway (Psalm 46:1), and when we try to manage our emotions without Him, we’ll most certainly stumble under the weight of them. “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18). We should rejoice in that! Even when we feel crushed in spirit, we have a Savior. God knew we’d need that comforting verse, because we all feel crushed by life sometimes. Take comfort in God’s nearness when you feel crushed by what’s happening around you.
In addition to prayer, we have the church. God wants us to carry each other’s burdens (Gal. 6:2). This means you can be honest with your brothers and sisters in Christ. Be honest about what is weighing you down. The freedom that comes from being honest will lift your spirit. You might be surprised, there could be someone in your church who has gone through a similar struggle and can share words of comfort you never expected (2 Cor 1:4).
This is part of God’s wonderful gift to us. The gift of community. Allow the church to help you. Allow your brothers and sisters in Christ to bear your burdens with you. This doesn’t mean you have to bury your emotions or bury the truth of how you feel. It means you can share this with others and feel the weight lift.
And looking at the flip side of this, think of ways you can comfort others around you. What have you gone through that was really tough? Maybe someone in your church or school is going through the same thing. Maybe you are the one who can provide comfort. Think of how grateful the other person will be!
Krista, thank you for giving us these honest words. I pray all who read them will examine their hearts and discover if there is any way they are hiding the truth, from God or from others. Let us use the wonderful gifts God has given us, prayer and community, to honestly navigate the trials of our lives.
In case you’ve missed the first three posts in the Live Your Love series, check them out! We’ve heard from C. J. Redwine, Becky Wade, and Rhia G. Adley. I’m privileged to share the wise words of these Christian authors with you, and I hope their words both challenge you and give you reason to praise the Lord.