On Faking Easter

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“Fake it till you make it” is a common phrase that means to imitate confidence so that as the confidence produces success, it will generate real confidence…

The phrase is often associated with Alcoholics Anonymous… AA to Z; An Addictionary of the 12-Step Culture describes it as a “suggestion often made to newcomers who feel they can’t get the program and will go back to old behavior. The suggestion implies that if the newcomer acts according to the steps and teachings of the program, then the program will begin to work and the anxiety will fall away.”

(excerpts from the article “Fake it till you make it” on Wikipedia)

Every priest I know, and every Christian I know, has at some point in their life arrived at Easter in despair.  Maybe its a tragedy that strikes in Holy Week, maybe its a depression lingering since before Ash Wednesday, maybe its the genuine fatigue of a very busy church season.

This year, my stepmother died.

On those occasions, when we show up at church on Easter Sunday to all the flowers and triumphant music, and it’s our duty to proclaim “Alleluia, Christ is Risen!” from the pulpit or the pew, we might just want to say, “I can’t do it” or even, “How can we believe this crap?”

I’m pretty sure that’s how the disciples felt on Easter too.  Mary, Thomas, Peter…all of a sudden they are asked to switch gears, to believe something impossible.  Turning a grieving mind and body (because, yes, grief is physical) into a rejoicing one is not unlike turning the Titanic.

And it’s times like that I thank God for all my friends in recovery who taught me to fake it till I make it.  A younger, naiver me hated the idea of fakery and inauthenticity.  But now I know better.  I know that sometimes entering into the reality that I am not yet feeling is how I will get there.  Easter will become real, if I say those words, and sing those songs until every cell in my body has turned course, and I believe it—Alleluia Christ has risen!

This is the power of liturgy and ritual—to transform our hearts by bringing us into a reality greater than ourselves.  And it is thanks to the liturgies of the Easter Season that my grief for my stepmother is slowly transforming into what I already believe is true, that Christ has defeated death, and she is with Him singing about it.

Is there a place in your life where you are having trouble living what you already know to be true?  Fake it till you make it, and let me know what happens.

—Amber Belldene


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