She’s five and a half years old. She has long, blond hair. She loves pretty dresses and cute shoes. She doesn’t care if things are messy. I call her my hippie.
Her most favorite thing to do is play dolls. Sometimes Barbies and sometimes princesses.
But always make believe. “Betend”, as she says.
She will have everything set up and I will see her come find me in the midst of whatever busyness has me occupied and ask, “Mom, will you play dolls with me?”
I love to be with her. She’s hilarious. She’s uniquely creative and when I’m with her I see clearly the beautiful gifts God has put inside of her. But I hate pretend play. It might be the thing I enjoy the least, ever. You say, hate is a strong word. Yeah, I know. I chose that word carefully and precisely. I looked it up and the word hate means “intense or passionate dislike”. That sounds about right.
I know, I know. Some of you are shaking your head and thinking, “what is there to hate about sitting on the floor with your beautiful little girl playing dolls?” But there are others of you who are cringing with me even now. You are air high fiving me because you know exactly what I mean.
I am terrible at pretend play. I try so hard to be good at it. It’s so painfully difficult for me.
We will be in the throws of our pretend play world, me with my dolls, she with hers. She will say, “Betend that you…”. and on and on the pretending goes.
There is a point to all of this. What I don’t like about pretend playing, is the pretend part.
I would be a horrible actress.
My sister was a professional model in her early 20’s. I tagged along one crisp fall day while she did a shoot with a photographer whose name sounded like a bird.
We stopped first at her agent’s office to fill out some paperwork.
The agent said to me, “Oh you are so cute. You’d make a great mom model.”
How’s that for boosting a mid 20 something’s confidence? You’re old and momish, you could be in grocery shopping ads!
No thanks! I know exactly what would happen. They’d put me in clothes that weren’t mine and do my hair and makeup (not gonna lie, I’d like that part). They’d hand me some kid that wasn’t mine and then ask me to push a shopping cart and pretend that grocery shopping was like going to Disney World. Um, again, no thank you.
I just know myself. I know that while I was pretending to do and be who they told me to pretend to be, I’d be laughing my head off. I wouldn’t be able to keep a straight face. Trying to pose like a model, means me trying to figure out which hip to pop and which knee to bend in the proper direction.
I’d be a horrible professional model. I’d be too busy laughing at myself.
Props to those who are gifted in this, like my sister. She’s amazing. Put a camera on her and she instantly knows exactly how to stand, where to put her feet and how to tilt her head.
I hear her laughing as she reads this. She knows what I mean.
I asked my husband the other night as he was playing catch in the yard with our son, and I was on the porch with our daughter pretending to be “Ellie” with a doll, “why can’t playing dolls be more like playing catch?”.
Playing catch is productive. It’s straight forward. Throw the ball, catch it. Do it again and again.
Maybe I like it because it can be mindless. It doesn’t require creative brain power to throw and catch a ball. Pretend playing requires a lot of energy. Coming up with fake conversations and attending fake parties is hard work. For all you free spirits out there, I admire you. I know it comes naturally to you and you love it. You come up with make believe worlds in a matter of seconds and have it all planned out in your day dreaming minds. I know this about you, not because I also do that, but because I’ve seen my daughter do it over and over again. For first born type A’s like me, it’s nearly impossible.
As I’ve spent hours participating in pretend play land, sometimes willingly and other times gritting my teeth, I began to compare it to our lives as human beings and more specifically as human beings who call themselves followers of Jesus.
I think pretend play is a lot like how many people who call themselves Christians are living. Yep, you’ve just gotten to the good part of this post. Let’s cut to the chase.
We’re pretending to follow Jesus. But we rarely give Him any undivided time in our day.
We pretend when we go to church. But as soon as we leave we’ve forgotten what tugged at our hearts as we sat in worship.
We pretend we are good parents. But we yell at our kids instead of disciplining and loving them in a God honoring way. Because discipling in love consistently takes work. Yelling is easier.
We pretend that we love people, but show that love only when it fits into our schedule.
We say we want reconciliation, but we aren’t willing to let something go and forgive, or even harder still, we don’t ask for forgiveness.
We say we want to be obedient to the voice of the Holy Spirit, but we mostly ignore Him when He prompts us to do something.
We pretend to know what we believe, but in the face of opposition we waiver.
We say we love Jesus, but we often show the opposite with our actions.
I get it. We all are guilty. We all say things that we don’t actually act on. We pretend. We say with our mouths that we are something that our actions show the exact opposite of.
Isaiah 29:13 And the Lord said: “Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men.”
The Message translation of this verse makes it even clearer.
“These people make a big show of saying the right thing,
but their hearts aren’t in it.
Because they act like they’re worshiping me
but don’t mean it,
I’m going to step in and shock them awake,
astonish them, stand them on their ears.
“Because they act like they are worshiping me…” This is what Webster’s had to say about the word act.
“she was putting on an act and laughing a lot”
|pretense, show, front, facade, masquerade, charade, posture, pose,affectation, sham, fake; put-on
“it was all just an act”
A pretense. Pretend play. When we act like we are following Jesus, but we don’t really take it seriously, it’s pretend. It’s a show we put on. We can even say the right things and do the right things, but it can still be pretend if our hearts are not in it.
It is time for us to stop pretending. Stop playing Christian and start acting Christian. It’s time for us to take seriously the commission we’ve been given and live like we believe that we’ve been placed on this earth to be salt and light and bring glory to His name.
Let’s even take it one step further.
Revelation 3:15 “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.”
God is telling us stop living in the middle.
Be all in or be all out.
None of this pretend stuff. He wants nothing to do with our middle ground. Our pretend play. He wants us all in! Commited. No doubt about it. We’re sold out, fully in, real life followers. Our actions show it. Our convictions show it. Our values show it. Our lives show it. Our love shows it.
We need to know what we believe. What we stand for. Not caught in the middle of some political ploy. But a stance founded in God’s Word.
As Scott Sauls, the author of a current favorite book (Jesus Outside the Lines) of mine says,
“Deep disagreement and no apologies for what we believe. Love, respect, listening and friendship. At the same time.”
This is who and what we need to be.
No pretending. No wavering in our convictions. But real, authentic love for those who disagree with us. This isn’t pretend play. This is real life. These are our lives. Their lives. Love God. Love people.
God isn’t calling us to a safe, comfortable stage where we put on a play. He’s called us to a life where the road may be tough and the path is narrow.
“You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.
Did you read that? Only a few ever find it. Those pretending, they don’t find it. I want to find it. I want to be on the narrow path, even though it’s difficult.
We can’t pretend any longer.
We must stop putting on an act with our faith.
We must know who we are and Whose we are.
There are only two choices in the end. We choose God, or we choose the devil. Those are the only two choices. There is no in-between. It’s either hot or cold.
It’s time for the Church to stand strong. To be HOT! To be all in.
To love deeper than we have loved.
To be the salt and light we’ve been put here to be.
To show strength in our realness.
To yes, stand for what we believe.
To show the world that we can love, even though we disagree.
It’s time to stop pretending we have it all together when really most of the time we feel like we’re falling apart.
It’s time to be who we say we are. Sold out, passionate, no holds barred followers of Jesus.
No Pretend Play! Just realness and authenticity. The world can spot a fake in less time than it takes you to figure out the lines in your play.
And they will call you out on it, and you will lose your witness.
God is raising up a people who will humble themselves, stop pretending, and choose every single day to live authentic, Holy Spirit filled lives.
This will be what stirs the hearts of the lost around us. Our realness. Our authenticity. Our love and the power of the Holy Spirit.
No more pretending. Just pure, honest devotion to the One who gave His life for us. That was real, raw, authentic love and there was nothing pretend about that. And we know the end of the story. Love does win. His name is Jesus.
I will keep pretend playing with my daughter. It fuels her creativity and it’s what she loves to do. It’s us time and it fills up her love tank. I will teach my children though, that while pretend play with toys and your imagination is fun, when it comes to our faith and living for Jesus, it’s either hot or cold. We’re either all in, or we’re all out. We can’t pretend in our faith and live in the middle. Living a real, authentic live for Jesus is the most important role in life we will ever have.