As I sat there listening to the advice—a long list of do’s and don’ts—it didn’t take long before the age-old gem of, “When all else fails, just fake it ’till you make it” rolled off his lips. Somewhat surprised, my eyes widened as I considered the ramifications of what he had recommended to combat my depressive mood swings and melancholy lows.
I couldn’t help but wonder how many other women in this position had been told the same thing, and later crumbled under the realization that faking something until it actually changes doesn’t produce significant heart change—if any.
Since when did pretending we are okay actually make us okay?
Turns out Scripture says nothing to the effect of this sort of advice, which is handed out as eagerly and freely as candy on Halloween night. For women fighting against depression and anxiety—especially Christian women—the “fake it ’till you make” it mentality carries along with it zero power, zero effectiveness, and zero ability to heal the brokenness and sin that remains deeply lodged in their hearts.
And who are we trying to fool anyways? We may be able to fool family, friends, and our community, but we probably aren’t fooling ourselves, and we can never fool the Lord. No matter how hard we fake happiness, joy, contentment, loving feelings, and forgiveness, the Lord sees and knows who we really are. Would not God find this out? For He knows the secrets of the heart (Psalm 44:21). He knows deep down, we’re still bitter, angry, unforgiving, selfish, judgmental, and the like.
Thankfully Scripture does provide practical guidance for women who want to see victory over wrong emotions and thoughts—but it doesn’t just stop there. The Word, as precisely ministered to our hearts by the Holy Spirit, can, does, and will give women victory in replacing wrong thoughts and emotions with genuine, fruit-filled springs of life.
Don’t fake it ’till you make it anymore. Instead, confess it ’till you bless it.
Scripture makes quite clear that the right way to deal with wrong feelings is through confession, repentance, prayer, and fellowship.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9
Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy. Proverbs 28:13
I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah Psalm 32:5
These verses remind us that while we need the Spirit’s help in conviction when we are stuck in a rut of wrong feelings, we also have a part to play in acknowledging they are there in the first place. If we fail to confess to ourselves, to the Lord, and even to close friends, we fail to take the full course of the Spirit’s assistance toward change.
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. James 5:16
Not only must we grow in living lives of confession and repentance, but we also should seek the Lord’s help in learning to bless these sinful struggles as we fight them.
My suffering was good for me, for it taught me to pay attention to your decrees. Psalm 119:71
Before I was afflicted I went astray, But now I keep Your word. Psalm 119:67
I know, O LORD, that Your judgments are righteous, And that in faithfulness You have afflicted me. Psalm 119:75
Don’t be content to sweep wrong emotions under the rug.
Look at them. Repent of them. Ask for God’s mercy and grace to heal you in those areas. Seek out Scriptures that talk about the emotions you are dealing with. Press into God’s grace, learn more about his character, his gospel, and who you are in Christ. Find friends who can hear your confessions and minister to you, encourage you, and love you as you fight. Then, as you confess in prayer and fellowship, begin to receive and proclaim the blessing of the challenge.
“Lord, I confess to you my anger over this situation. I know I have acted foolishly and selfishly, treating those I love with bitter disrespect. Father, I ask that you take these feelings from me and replace them with your gentleness and kindness. Heal me of this hurt and give me the courage to believe you are in control over the situation. I thank you, Lord, that this anger has reminded me of my constant need for your grace and mercy, and that I am just as equally prone to sin as the person I am upset with. I know that through these wrong feelings, you will draw me nearer to your Word and you will give me the strength to seek out forgiveness for the wrong I have committed. Thank you, Jesus, for leading me on the path of life and restoration. Please bless this struggle and show me your glory by it. In your Son’s name, I pray, amen.”