We live in a generation where anything is possible. If you can see it, dream it, believe it, then you can achieve it. The advancement in technology ensures that everything is literally at our finger tips. If you want to learn a new skill or become an expert in a certain field, then Youtube is your professor. The world of social media enables us to create glossy and perfectly filtered version of ourselves and lives. We live in an era where ‘Faking it until you make it’ is a tested and proven formula that looks like it gets results.
As a young Christian, I tried to adopt this mindset. But deep down, in the pit of my stomach, it didn’t feel right. I couldn’t find comfort in ‘faking it until I made it’. I knew it was right to peel back the layers of my false self-image. I knew it was right to show my authentic life, regardless of how flawed it seemed. But like many others, I still gave in to the pressure to fake it through.
This pressure stemmed from society’s ideals that an educated 30 something year old should have it all together. Based on what society said, I was supposed to have all of the following and more nailed:
1. A successful career;
2. Residual income;
3. A house in a catchment area with the best schools;
4. Raising a picture-perfect family; and
5. Living my best life.
It made sense to me that these pressures were common in ‘the world’. But I was shocked to find these pressures following me into the sacred sanctuary of church. Church became about me wearing my Sunday’s best, speaking Christianese and putting the very best version of myself forward. But when I left the sacred environment of church, none of these things held up at all. I was confronted by the reality of my pending debts, my unresolved argument with my husband and my overworked and underpaid occupation. This was the daily grind of faking it until I made it.
Five months after my wedding day, my husband was gifted a Mercedes sports car. Young and newly married (at 24 and 26 years old), we thought we’d made it. We’d just had a Hashtag #goals worthy wedding day, and now we had a shiny car to match. I thought we were living the 2 Corinthians 3:18 life, going from ‘glory to glory’. But ultimately, it didn’t last long. Externally, everyone around could see the tangible favour of God on our lives. But what they didn’t see was the faith it took to get married at the start of the financial crash, the struggle to pay the high insurance and the petrol costs needed to maintain an expensive sports car. Shame hovered over me because of the disconnect between our portrayed life and the reality of the life we actually lived.
Not many people knew that my Husband and I getting married was an act of faith. By the year we decided to get married in 2010, most people were starting to feel the pinch of the economic crash. A few months after my husband proposed and we started planning the wedding day, he was made redundant. Two months later, my mother-in-law was also made redundant. Our families advised us that wisdom would have us wait, but we felt the release from God to continue planning. Three months before the big day we only had £2k of combined savings; this was after paying rent and bills. It felt crazy! At times, the reality of what was going on hit me in the face. I suffered panic attacks and sleepless nights, but my husband was completely at peace. This was because he truly believed God would provide for all of our needs (something I got on page with later on). But in my moments of panic, my husband’s calm composure, the absence of any concern for what was going on, it really annoyed me! I couldn’t understand why he wasn’t anxious or pulling out his hair. We had no clue how the wedding would be paid for, so surely he should’ve been unnerved?!
Despite my occasional moments of wavering, God rewarded our confidence in Him. On the day of our wedding, most guests saw: our swanky Central London hotel, the bespoke wedding dress, the lavish food spread and the nicely decorated venue. But here’s what we (and a few others) saw: our wedding day was financed by faith in God, based on direct instructions from Him.
After our wedding day, God spoke to my husband. He said He wanted us to trust Him like we did for our wedding day. This sounded nice, as we both said our lives purpose was to do His will. But little did we know the depth of what God meant when he told us to trust Him for everything. After the first year of marriage, we were exhausted by the process of trusting God for our daily bread. We’d seen countless miracles daily, but we still found it tiring. For the first time we understood why the Israelites complained in the wilderness about eating manna daily.
My life seemed so different from everyone else around me. I wanted an easier life. I didn’t like the daily uncertainty of wondering how God would provide for our meals and rent. I later learned that I wasn’t the only one. There were countless others who didn’t have it easy or figured out. Instead, trials, setbacks and challenging situations were part of their lives too. This only made me wonder: what would happen if most of us chose to be real about our lives and our trials? What if our churches and social media timelines were loaded with honesty rather than ‘best-bit’ moments? Why can’t we start sharing when we’re going through the trials and struggle, rather than only sharing the testimony at the end of a difficult season?
In June 2016, everything changed for me. After 18 months of a challenging season, I awoke from a dream with the message “Faith is your currency”. I pondered on this message for a year, searching the scriptures to see how faith was my currency. A study of faith brought me to the resolve that “without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6). The more I researched faith, the more I felt I’d been short-changed throughout the previous years of my Christian walk. I began to question why so little emphasis was placed on the holistic necessity of faith in church sermons. Don’t get me wrong, faith was encouraged when it came to naming and claiming a future job, a bigger home, a lifestyle that would supersede the Jones’s. However, not many were preaching about the faith of Abraham that causes you to bear your cross daily, knowing that He who has promised you is faithful. In hindsight, I had myself to blame. I had unlimited access to God and the bible. I needed to take responsibility for my own spiritual growth.
Faithing it in the 21st Century can seem completely irresponsible. Oftentimes, it challenges social norms. However, I am constantly encouraged to depend on God, be obedient to His instructions and not bypass a season because it seems too difficult to endure. Sometimes I do feel anxious. Especially when His promise doesn’t deliver on my timeline or when I compare myself to the Instagram lifestyles of my peers. But when I decide to be still and abide, that still gentle voice reminds me that my life is in the palm of His hands.