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The Strength of Pretend

Positively Speaking

OK, OK, OK.  So maybe you poured your heart and soul into in and it was just thrown in your face. Maybe it was a dying business. It was a great idea, a good location but not the right time and it just wouldn’t fly.

Or maybe it was a social cause. You had the vision. You had the energy and darned if you could get anyone to listen.

Or maybe it was about health issues.  You wanted to gather together some people to work on improving their health and it just didn’t work.

We’re surrounded by success and growth all the time on this little Island. We beat a huge multi national corporation at their own game with the help of die hards and a good recession.

Hundreds have cleaned out their bodies with gluten free anything and more vegetables on their plates than other stuff.

Our schools thrive despite cut backs because people go back and dig deep.

We haven’t planted a white cross on the highway for a teenager in years because enough parents said enough kids have died.

But just as strong are the things that haven’t worked. Good ideas that couldn’t find an audience. Or things that took a whole lot of time. Everything in the above list that succeeded took a lot of time and patience to build.

There’s one thing I think the Island is getting better and better at. We are calling people into the truth of their own stories. Nowadays one doesn’t have to have a cataclysmic event to get people to rally around. Daily people are finding help and support for their everyday lives.

We are becoming more and more willing to be engaged with those popular culture calls the disenfranchised. While there are certainly still people who rely on the strength of pretend to construct life or their story into whatever they wish it was and spin it that way, there are a steady stream of people who have healed on this Island by confronting their story the way it is and living through it. It’s inspiring.

There is more and more transparency. There is more and more encouragement.

But here’s the caveat. In this kind of victory, there is always a period of unfruitfulness as kind of a pendulum swing. So may I say to those who gave their best and had it thrown in their faces in a most ungrateful manner, stay the course.

There are four holidays that cross the time zone of deadline to deadline during this issue: Passover, Easter, Holocaust Observance day (May 1st), and Mother’s Day. Each of those holidays could be celebrated for the victory of endurance and steadfastness and seen in the eyes of success and celebration. At the core of each of those holidays, however, the stories that make up ‘success’ are ones of redemption. People who were willing to give their lives that others might live redeemed a situation that could have gone south.

I have a lot of friends rooting for me right now. They see some pretty adventurous doors swinging open and it’s fun to dream about being on the other side of those accomplishments as I work towards them. To ensure I don’t get caught up in the strength of pretend, I repeatedly ask myself “What am I willing to lay down my life for?”  My children? Certainly. My needs have always come second to them even it is caused unbearable heartache.  My faith?  Would I risk my life for my faith?  Well…actually that one has already been tested and the answer is ‘yes’, life and livelihood. My Jewish friends and relatives?  Yes, everyday I remind myself that I must be willing to do that or I can’t have a friendship with them. A cause? Like child advocacy?

We have people who have been willing to go to jail for what they believe on this Island. We have people who have been willing to suffer scorn and mocking from other Islanders for a cause or in service to them.

We’ve still a ways to go.  The business of tagging is still all too prevalent. You know, where someone is pegged like they were a character from central casting and no one lets them evolve or drops the tag so they can really get to know them. And we still get caught up in a bit of pretentiousness every once in a while. But the more we develop avenues for sharing from our hearts, the more that dissipates.

If you find yourself trying to impress someone or worrying about what others think, drop it. It’s the slippery slope of the strength of pretend.

We are in the season of holidays that are very real. Let real happen to you. It’s truly a wonderful way to live.


What would you say if you had to share your faith story?  Deborah will offer a workshop at Vashon Presbyterian Church Saturday 25 June 2011 from 10-4. Lunch is included. No charge but a freewill offering will be taken to defer costs. For questions and registration call 206.853.3488.