Worship, Music, and Spirituality: Not Really Making It...
“Fake it till you make it” was a mantra of my youth that I retired some years ago. It was a law of attraction and a survival thing: I faked dance moves until I got them; I faked confidence until it appeared; I faked understanding dominant White culture until I didn’t “sound” like an outsider. When the pandemic hit, this mantra once again started to resonate. I suspect that I am not alone in this feeling. “Faking fine” is a phrase I have heard on several occasions over the past two years. It is not healthy: the effects of faking fine can be debilitating, and I am grateful for all the people, including professionals, who provide mental, spiritual, and emotional support. And yet, during these taxing times, even when you’re doing okay—functioning and meeting or surpassing expectations—it is sometimes hard to shake the feeling of faking it, of not really making it. I find this particularly true when I am called to lead others in worship.
As I write this, symbols of hate are flying high around the country; fear, anger, and fatigue are common subtexts; and the name of Jesus can be heard everywhere. When leading in worship, I don’t have the benevolent words and hopeful inspiration based on Jesus’ teachings that are commonly asked of me; they catch in my throat. I believe it, but I am not ready to proclaim it. I can testify to the fear that is keeping me and my family safe and the burning anger that is clarifying for me how deeply rooted systemic oppression is within our society. I thank God for these emotions of fear and anger; I have not learned everything I need to from them.
For many years, I believed that radical love (not fear, doubt, or anger) was always the starting place for faithful learning, that the true love of Jesus banished all hate, all fear, all anger, set us free, and made us one. This pandemic has made clear how deeply aspirational unity in Christ through love is. Although we may be one in Christ, our lived reality during the pandemic has been of weathering “the same storm, in drastically different boats.” Does honouring my fear and anger before proclaiming the liberating love of Jesus make me less of a Christian? A fraud?
I have definitely felt like a “fake Christian”over the past two years. Thankfully, I am reminded by Paul that the Body of Christ isn’t something that we, the parts, have control over. Like a molecule belongs to a cell or a star belongs in a galaxy, we are each a part of each other and our actions affect each other because we are a part of one whole. It is not a performative thing, being a member of the Body of Christ. I am a member of the Body because I have accepted God’s call and embraced Christ’s vision. There is nothing to fake, because there is nothing to prove.My anger and fear are a part of the broken, fragile, radically loved Body of Christ to which we all belong.
Yours in Christ,
Alydia Smith, Program Coordinator, Worship, Music, and Spirituality