January 17, 2017

Give Thanks? Fake it till you make it - by Rohadi

I remember sitting in a service of a rather large church and couldn't help but notice how repetitive the lead preacher was. On three separate occasions he reminded people to smile, not to anybody in particular, seemingly suggesting it was somehow reflective of a superior faith.

“As my grandpa used to always say, you don't want to look like you've been baptized in lemon juice!” noted the preacher.

Why did this bug me? It struck me as disingenuous but it also alluded to the notion if someone didn’t meet the smile quota then something was wrong with their faith. I didn't roll my eyes, but I did make a mental note to frown for the remainder of the service.

Why did I respond in this way?

Maybe I indeed lacked joy and needed to smile more like the preacher said. Or more likely, maybe I prefer when someone reflects their authentic spirit in the moment, and many times we just don’t feel like smiling. 

We've all gone through, or are going through, present or past struggles. No faith is worth its salt if it hasn’t travelled through the ‘valley of death’ once or twice. In those experiences smiling is hard and sometimes forced. We give the illusion of joy but it's fake.

While traveling through tough times you may have heard something like this, “fake it till you make it.” Advice used to maintain momentum when picking up a new skill or beating an old habit.

Does it work? Have you 'faked it until you made it?'

I have. I think it does work, but the mantra is a bit of a misnomer. 

When we walk into the valleys, when joy seems far from us, it requires real intention to constantly remind ourselves about joy and practice habits of joy.

If you’re ‘faking’ you’re actually entering into an activity—you’re doing something. Doing is participating, an activity that’s less ‘faking’ as it is a liturgy of reclamation. This kind of liturgy practices joy in an attempt to discover joy. In this sense, the rhythm of ‘faking it till you make it’ is a spiritual act of worship! Soon enough (God willing) joy emerges as a prominent reflection of our authentic selves.

Whether you want to smile about that or not is up to you.


 You can catch Rohadi online at his blog on church innovation. Check out his adult colouring book, Soul Coats, now available. 


  1. "...it requires real intention to constantly remind ourselves about joy and practice habits of joy." Powerful stuff, Rohadi. I don't like being told to smile or 'say' certain words etc. during a church service, either. There is a difference between being genuine and choosing to be joyful. A very thought provoking and powerful post. Thanks for your continued contributions.

  2. Yes, if you practice joy even when you don't feel it, you'll soon discover true joy. A smile a day keeps negativity away. It can lift your mood and improve your health, and it can lighten someone else's heart and bring them hope. So lift those lips heavenward in "a spiritual act of worship!"

  3. "No faith is worth its salt if it hasn’t travelled through the ‘valley of death’ once or twice." It's true that such experiences are makers or breakers. I like the idea of practicing joy, rather than 'faking' it. Thanks for sharing.

  4. I like your thoughts on choosing to practice "joy in an attempt to discover joy." This reminds me of C. S. Lewis's book, Surprised by Joy, which I read some years ago. Maybe it's time to reread it. Thanks for your thoughts on joy, Rohadi.


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