There comes an hour in the afternoon when the child is tired of ‘pretending’; when he is weary of being a robber or a cowboy. It is then that he torments the cat… - Gilbert Keith Chesterton
Eventually we all tire, and it is then that things unseen while pretending, surface… and we torment the cat, our spouse, our children, or the gal behind the United Customer Service Desk at United O’Hare.
I think of the gifted woman who speaks profound as-if-they-were-from-God words to those gathered in the groups she attends… and then, wearied from ministry, returns home spent, short and all but absent to her young son and husband. Her “gifting” leaves them tormented. There’s the pastor, a true verse by verse expository preacher who carefully parses every verb preparing for his series on “The Biblical Mandate to Love”, while his wife is withering from the cold dismissive silence that’s marked their marriage for 20 years. He stopped pretending years ago.
We can speak, behave and appear to be something we are not yet… and while it may sound and look good/godly/holy... we're actually just pretending... something core, true, is missing. It looks like God but is missing the stamp of authenticity... and lacking that, it will not last long. Paul hits on this saying,
“If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing...” I Corinthians 13
It may be an hour in the afternoon or a season of life… and we’ll catch ourselves tormenting the cat! It’s in that moment of exposure, of embarrassment, failure and frustration that we can see it, own it and then... cry out to God for a deep true transformation that endures and deepens over decades.
Why do we settle for pretending when the life, character, strength and love we yearn for, and often pretend to have, really is available? We don't have to pretend!
I’m thinking of a blogger who loves nothing more than to poetically write of an intimacy and life with God and yet startled by fear and in-some-way committed to self-protection can get through life only giving 78% of himself. Most don’t notice, but at times it torments those closest to him because they need and want all of him!
Oh how I long to tire of pretending.
- Craig McConnell