I'm a phony and a fake. It's the one line that stayed with me long after I finished Graham Greene's The End of the Affair. The line Sarah Miles writes in her diary, the words I wish didn't resonate, but do.
I want to tell this fictional Sarah that we all feel that way, maybe not always, but often. If I am honest at least with myself, I see how I walk around in an invisible bubble of pretense. I want to smile real at the PTO meeting, but I don't feel the slightest bit happy. So I force my lips to each corner and say hello. And if there's time only for a one word answer, then of course I'll say "fine" or "great" or "good." Fine is never enough to be the truth. More than half of the time, I'm not sure what the truth even is, what is buried beneath the fine, the artificial sweet, the have-it-all-togetherness.
My dearest, deepest friends tell me I'm authentic, that I don't hide the mess, that it's refreshing. And I tell them the same. This is probably why they are my dearest deepest friends. But even to them, have I ever told the whole truth? I'm afraid I haven't. I'm afraid I don't know the whole truth.
Like Sarah, the place where I feel most phony is when I talk or write of spiritual things. What business do I have acting as if I understand any of this? What business do I have to speak of grace, when I know full well how I've trampled it with covert rebellion and quiet conceit?
But I'll tell you, the only place I have ever felt like something other than a complete fraud--it is when my heart breaks in front of Him. He sees through me like the woman at the well. He tells me He is the Truth, and that this Truth is enough for the both of us. It only lasts for minutes at a time, this stillness where I feel completely seen and forgiven and loved and real. But I like to imagine it is a foretaste, that heaven is a thousand years and then more of this feeling. For real.
(Full disclosure--this started out as the write-your-heart-out-for-five-minutes drill. And then continued for about 25 minutes. So more like five times five minute Friday.) :-)