In this past weekend’s episode, we discussed faking it until you make it. This is something I really struggled with and it eventually led to my deconstruction and landed me in therapy.
When I first became a Christian, I was under the impression that we should be honest and open about our struggles. After all, we were meant to confess our sins with one another. That didn’t turn out so well for me. You see, I wasn’t aware that everyone was faking it. So here I was, just letting my sinful self be real and raw in hopes of gaining encouragement, accountability and healing. Instead, I was met with judgement and persecution.
This threw me. Not only did I believe that I was in a community that was called to love and support me, but I am also a very naturally open person. I thought that all the other Christians I was sharing with were just more spiritual than I was and I started to take an unhealthy view of the severity of my sin. I would go into a deep depression over my sin, but then I also started feeling like I was a better Christian than others were because their sin seemed to much worse than mine.
It went deeper than sin too. If someone asked me how my day was and I wasn’t having a great day and I said something like, “my day isn’t the best,” or “I’ve had better days,” I would get talked to about having a negative attitude. I was told that people ask those questions and not expect honest responses, so my honesty was making people uncomfortable. I started to figure out who I could be real with and who I needed to be fake with. Sadly, the number of people I could be real with was just a couple. I spent a majority of my days putting on a happy face and pretending like my life was wonderful and amazing.
I took on the persona of Tour Guide Barbie. You know, like at the end of Toy Story? I would smile and guide people through their walks with Christ. I would act as though being at church was the most amazing and wonderful part of my week. I felt as though I always had to be “on,” and only once everyone was gone could I be myself. I was told I set the tone for others. If I was having a bad day, then others would follow my lead and we would have a church full of negativity. Do you have any idea how much that weighs on a person?
In my home it was no different. As a Christian, I shouldn’t struggle with feelings like mom guilt or isolation depression. In my marriage, I should be delighted to blindly obey my husband without question or attitude. I was never allowed to say that I was struggling with emotions in my marriage or as a mother because I should be relying on God. God would give me all I needed to be the perfect, obedient and happy wife, mother and church member.
I started to just suck it up and suffer in silence. Even thought I projected an authentic persona, I held a lot of stuff back. I told myself that there was something wrong with me that I was so negative all the time. I told myself that other moms didn’t feel overwhelmed or like failures. I told myself that other wives adored their husbands and didn’t struggle with frustration. As hard as I tried, my fake face would cack sometimes and I would say something that would come across as negative or sarcastic. I lived in constant fear that I would offend someone or be a stumbling block to another person’s joy. I felt like I needed to come with a warning label to let people know that my personality was kind of a lot to handle. It took all of my energy every single day to stay positive and “keep sweet.” I can’t even tell you how many times I cried all alone in the shower because that was the only place I would truly be alone and let all of my emotions out.
It wasn’t until I started exploring my deconstruction that I discovered the term, “toxic positivity.” This is so detrimental to your mental health because you are never allowed to feel your feelings and you have to take on the responsibility for others feelings as well. It also takes a toll on you physically. The stress I carried cause headaches, stress knots in my shoulders and neck, lower back pain and fatigue.
I had a very unhealthy relationship with God and over time it became fake. I spent so much time faking that I was always positive and that my life was all together that I started to not be honest with God either. I had lost my sense of humility before the Lord. I had convinced myself that if I acted as though I was an amazing Christian, God would see me as such. That is where my deconstruction came from. I felt as though the teachings of God in scripture and the stories of who Jesus was weren’t lining up with how I felt. It took me a lot of soul searching to finally be able to be honest with myself and with God that I had turned my very real relationship with Him into something fake.
Once I started being real with God, I started to feel a sense of peace. I started feeling as though God really did see my hurts and frustrations and wanted to come along side of me in them. He wanted to join me right where I was and He wanted me to be raw and real with Him. For the deep seeded issues, He couldn’t help me heal my heart without me being honest about how I was feeling. And as for the other emotions, those were completley normal. My therapist helped me realize that God gave us the emotions of sadness, anger, frustration and fear for a reason. Feeling them isn’t a sin in and of itself. Emotions are there to help us navigate how we feel about relationships and situations and emotions are there as a thermometer to show us what is toxic and what is normal.
I am thankful I had friends and family who were willing to walk through my deconstruction with me and help me find my way back to God. I am thankful for organizations like Better Help who are striving to make therapy available to everyone. Please reach out to us if you are struggling! We have been where you are and we are never going to make you feel like you can’t be honest! By being able to process with others, you can discover who God truly crated you to be and get rid of the toxic lies that you have believed.