Monday, December 13, 2010

sometimes I fake it...

... being in love is hard, period. Especially being in love with the Church. So, some days I resort to faking it. This used to leave me guilt ridden... until I had an epiphany.

When it comes to my faith it helps to think of everything in terms of parenting. Example; If you were to ask me right now how much I love my son I would answer that I love my son more than anything on this Earth.

Now, if you were to ask me that very same question while trapped in a room with a dozen eight year olds whose tiny underdeveloped bodies digested birthday cake like rocket fuel my answer would be different. All those loving mommy feelings would have evaporated in the shrill reverberation of their hyperglycemic squeals.

That's were faking it comes to play. I smile and make delightfully cordial chit chat with the other moms and pretend that I'm having a smashing time... even though I'm inwardly fighting the urge to stab something.

So whenever pessimistic thoughts dampen my joy and make me want to stab, I fake it. I blog stuff like this. I nun gaze or fix my eyes on pretty vestments and uplifting religious art.

I like pretty. Pretty makes me happy. I lack the discipline of the Carthusians... I need to be surrounded by all the pretty the Church has to offer. It keeps me sane. It keeps me in love.



Today's pretty is in honor of the feast of St. Lucy, one of my absolute favorite saints, painted by Francesco del Cossa.

27 comments:

s-p said...

Most of the time "faking it" is not allowing our misery and lack of (whatever) to spill over on to other people. It is an act of mercy, IMO.

Rick said...

You get out of it, what you put in it. For where you treasure lies, there your heart shall be.

I am working hard on my marriage specially when my wife does things to make my life harder e.g. lose the keys, leave the car lights on, etc... Sometimes being patient and not flying off the handle is a small price to pay for how well she takes care of the 4 soon to be 5 children. In return, I get happy kids and a wife who does not nag me to drinking.

familytreedude said...

"Fake it till you make it" !

There are those who leave the faith because they lose the orignal 'high' of the relationship with Jesus. Much like those who leave marriage because it is no longer 'new'.

Walk straight ahead through the dry times and keep the eyes on the prize, and one will come to a place of deep joy that has a far greater effect than newness or a 'high'.

In the meantime Kat, your method of looking at pretty is an excellent tonic for dryness!

Terry Nelson said...

Yep - faking it or pretending is part and parcel of practicing the virtues I think. St. Therese made acts of faith when she felt she had no faith - she was kind to nuns she only felt natural antipathy towrds. Charity is exercised in kindness - you want to stab something, but you deny your self and make the people you are with feel you are enjoying yourself. St. Therese did it all of the time. You are growing in wisdom and grace and virtue - a much safer path to holiness. And looking at beautiful things to increase love and devotion is exactly why they are made for us.

You are so holy and you don't even know it. That is the best!

lydiacubbedge said...

Glad I'm not the only one :) I sure as heck don't stay in the Church for the people. Pretty, and that pesky knowledge that it's all true, help keep me within the fold. And faking it when you'd rather be murdering someone is an art form every Christian should master. It's charity, plain and simple. It can transform you, too: the smile begins to work its way inward after enough habituation.

romishgraffiti said...

Others touch on it, but I'll try to brass-tack it: Love is an act of the will, not a feeling. That is, not feeling warm and fuzzy does not mean you are faking it. This is a major part of the what is wrong with the world: confusing concupiscence or inner turmoil as the reality and what we choose to do in spite of it as fiction we wear like a mask. Mark Shea has a pretty good article that is somewhat related: Jesus Names Us, Not Sin

Invictus_88 said...

RomishGraffiti has it. "Faking" might be a fun term to apply, but it's not fully accurate.

PaxetBonum said...

@lydiacubbedge- Ditto.

@Romish- Not sure if you got that formulation from C.S. Lewis, but he says something very similar, either in Mere Christianity or The Four Loves- "love (charity/caritas, or agape) is a decision, not a feeling..." sticks in my mind.

Kat- I think we all fake it, at least some of the time. None of us are highly motivated experts at everything we are called on to do in life, so whenever we must do something we either don't want to do or aren't sure we are capable of, we fake it. I think the Brits call it "muddling through".

Another formulation for "love": when someone else's well-being and happiness is essential to your own; or, the decision to place someone else's happiness above your own. Nothing in the natural world is more "unnatural", thus the impulse to act out of love instead of self-interest must be of divine origin. P&B.

drawntocatholicism said...

I always love the Church but hopefully I can balance this offensive position that I do not always love Her members all the time and some of them (it seems) never.

Anna said...

I'm surprised no one has put this Lewis quotation up, so it's high time someone did:

"Do not waste time bothering whether you 'love' your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him."
-C. S. Lewis

May the rest of your Advent be blessed and peaceful!

Christopher Lake said...

I want to love people as Christ loves them. It's very, very hard at times-- impossible, without God's grace, and I fail on an everyday basis. Still, I try. It's easier to love other people when I keep in mind (also hard to do) that they are all made in God's image. All of them. Including the difficult people. Which includes me.

Christopher said...

Maybe seek the intercession of St. Genesius, patron of actors, to help you when you are "faking it." The reason he became a Saint, according to legend, is because in the middle of "faking it" (acting in a play before Diocletian as someone about to be baptized) he was immediately converted to the faith. He later gave his life for it.

Even if the legend isn't true, it is nice to know that we can, with God's grace, suddenly be moved from "faking it" to deeply in love.

Lee Strong said...

There are days in marriage as well when you "fake" it. You're mad, frustrated, feel trapped, ... but you vowed "till death," and so you choose to keep on loving.

And there are days in faith when we all experience "dark nights."

As for me, a walk in the falling snow, watching the squirrels, listening to birds ... such things restore my sense of gratitude and faith.

The Little Way said...

When I tell people I married my cross, I'm only half-joking. There are times when family life is a joy and others when it feels more like a martyrdom of heart and soul. Romish has it exactly right - love is not a feeling. Love is a choice, a decision to do what's right, even though you don't feel like it. Last week, I was feeling resentful toward a friend who only calls when it's convenient for her, and then expects me to drop everything to listen to her troubles. I had a revelation that this is the relationship many people have with Christ. They ignore Him until they need something from Him. Pretty is great, and I need it too sometimes. But the joy that St. Therese described as insensible, or not felt, is the joy of union with Christ, such as little epiphanies like the one I described above.

The Watcher said...

Here's what I do when I'm faced with the same difficulty: I look at the person who's driving me to 'faking it' and remind myself (sometimes even out loud), 'God made them, just like He made me.'

It got me through 13 years of school-bus driving, so I guess it works.

Daftpunkett said...

thank you thank you thank you! and not just to the Crescat. this was exactly how I felt today in regards to both church ( more so prayer) and my son. It can be so hard to stay chipper and excited when your two month old is screaming at you while you attempt to change his diaper. Its pretty hard to fake prayer in front of him too. So far I don't have a "go to" solution, but I like all of yours. I suppose when I notice I'm, not being excited by saying the same prayers every day I change it up for the babe and myself.

Pennycake said...

that reminds me of

It is possible to love God with your whole heart, mind, and soul, without forcing yourself to feel any emotion whatsoever. Simply will it. Will to love God, without making yourself feel anything. The will has only one function, to say yes or no. If you want to love God, just say yes. Forget the feelings. The Lord is pleased with your holy desire, and He blesses you for it.
-Fr. John Catoir, “Joyfully Living the Gospel Day By Day”

Dymphna said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one who has to fake it sometimes.

And, I very much relate to your prescription of beauty. "Beauty will save the world." I always said, as long as they keep taking the statues and such out of the churches, I'll keep putting them in my home (and on my blog!)

Cathy said...

When I feel the way you do, I always go back to a quote from the book, "Living the Drama of Faith" by Romano Gaurdini. I think it will help some people, and I think you will like it! " The individual bears the Church in his faith, both Her dynamic power and Her weight; the Church is present to him as She is. She bears him and weighs him down. Her life nourishes him. Her immensity humbles him. Her breadth enlarges his horizon. Her wisdom gives him a rule of life. Her power enlarges his field of activity. Her formalism blocks him; Her coldness hardens him; and whatever is violent, selfish, hard, or vulgar about the Church has an influence upon the faith of the individual, so that he sometimes seems obliged to sustain the cause of God, not only in the darkness of the world, but also in that of the Church."
May your Advent be a season of Re-Birth
Cathy

Badger Catholic said...

Yup!

RFP said...

Since you wrote about love (and 'faking it' when you don't feel it),
take a moment to read what a 15 year old girl wrote about the subject of love:

http://themagnoliahouse.blogspot.com/2010/12/im-talking-about-love-love-love.html

Just another mad Catholic said...

O Sacred Heart of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament; I will love you even in the midst of trials and sufferings

doughboy said...

an excellent post. thanks, kat. and thank you romishgraffiti for the mark shea link. i forwarded that excellent article to friends & family.

kkollwitz said...

St Lucy holds a palm, showing she's a martyr; and her gouged-out eyes are artfully joined to the lilies which indicate her purity.

The Crescat said...

kkollwitz, to expand on the symbolism... practicing custody of the eyes keeps our souls pure.

I love St. Lucy in every way. She's my go to girl .

Anthony S. "Tony" Layne said...

In the scene where Hamlet kills Polonius, he tells Gertrude to "Assume a virtue, if you have it not," reflecting that constant practice can build virtues nature doesn't intrinsically provide. I'm not a naturally patient man; but by restraining my temper and trying to look past provocation, I've found I've actually become more patient. (I've also found it's easier to suffer fools when you realize how foolish you yourself can sometimes be.)

An elderly Irish monsignor once said, "Faith, the Bark of Peter must be divine; else we boys would have kicked the bottom out long ago." I also think of the French cardinal's reaction to Napoleon's claim that he would destroy the Church: "Absurd. We bishops have been trying for centuries, and we haven't succeeded." Gen. Chesty Puller once said that one SOB in four or five cannot ruin the Marine Corps, and the Corps isn't guided by the Holy Spirit into all truth (Jn 16:13) or called "the pillar and foundation of truth" (1 Tim 3:15). So I grit my teeth, hang on to my faith, and pray like the king in the poem: "Lord, have pity on me, a fool!"

You hang on to your pretties, Kat.

Matt said...

I think the term "faking it" our present world's distortion of the beauty of the true love God calls us to. God loves us unconditionally with an endless, limitless, boundless love. This is how he calls us to love him in the same way, beyond eros, beyond philos, he calls us to agape. God is Agape. Through this love, he created us, condemned us, died and suffered to redeem us.

Agape is not easy because we are not the well from which this true love springs forth, we are just vessels. So, you see, there is absolutely nothing wrong with turning to Christ and what the Church in her wisdom gives us to replenish and renew ourselves in Christ. There is nothing wrong with feeling tired and exhausted. Just as pain is an instinctive signal to protect from further injury, this one is a call to return to the only source of Love. Ultimately, we truly nothing without God, nothing without He who restlessly despite our shortcomings loves us into being.