Have you ever heard that expression, “Fake it ‘til you make it”? It is an English aphorism which suggests that by imitating confidence, competence, and an optimistic mindset, a person can realize those qualities in their real life. Some people believe in this strategy, others do not.
Personally, for a long time I thought it was stupid. If your heart isn’t in something, why try and force it? Well, a few years ago, I decided to try this method out anyway. I mean, what did I have to lose, right? My goal was to be a more thankful person. I wanted to pray more and count my blessings.
I came across this quote from Stormie Omartian about four years ago. I printed it out and it has been hanging at my desk at work ever since. I have shared it before, but it is so worth sharing again. This is what prompted me to start faking it until I made it.
“One of the ways we can learn to completely trust that God is a good God is to praise Him for His goodness. Every time we do, it opens up the channels through which that particular aspect of His nature is poured into our heart.
The more you praise God for His goodness, the more you will see it manifested in your life. That’s the hidden power of praise. You will be amazed when you pray this way how God will open your eyes to see things you haven’t seen before.”
After reading this, I really wanted to see if it would work. I began thanking God for everything I could possibly think of as I laid down to sleep each night. I didn’t praise Him, per say, but I thanked Him. Even if I was not in a good place, feeling down and depressed, or just stressed, I thanked God anyway. To tell you the truth, I felt like a phony con artist for a while. Often my heart wasn’t in it. But, that is what faking it until you make it is all about, right?
After a while, I started to see subtle changes in my life. I was looking around me, at my life and the people in it, and the lives of others, and it started dawning on me how much I truly have to be thankful for.
I was raised in a loving home. I have an amazing husband who loves and supports me. I have a nice home and clothes to wear. I have food to eat and clean water to drink. I can get out of bed each morning and clothe myself and feed myself. I have a job that allows me to contribute financially to our family. I have friends who rally around me whenever I need them. And, this is just for starters.
Now I am at a point in my life where not only am I thankful for all these things (and more), but I am grateful for them. And, not only do I pray and thank God for them, I praise Him for all these things as well. The more I open my eyes to the blessings God has given me, the more blessings I find. Stormie was so right. And, I can tell you from personal experience, faking it ‘til you make it, well, it works. (At least it did for me in this case.)
I think the key to all of this is “faking” it the right way. Your motivation has to be in the right place, even if your heart isn’t necessarily in it. You have to make sure that you want to be changed from the inside out. If you truly desire change—significant change, then you can get to work “faking it”.
So, if this is something you would like in your life, just start small. (Like I did.) Thank God for the small things. Your list doesn’t have to be long or extensive. You can be thankful for air to breath, sunshine, and flowers.
You can even make a game out of it. Sometimes I would pick a letter from the alphabet and focus only on things that began with that letter that I was thankful for. (For example, take the letter “A”. I thought about apples, animals, Aaron (my brother), the arts, my appendix, and avocados.) You can also spend time reading your Bible and looking for verses that inspire you. Have fun with it!
Before you know it, you will see your cup overflowing with blessings. You will see blessings that you have never seen before. You will be looking at everything in a different, more positive light. And, your brain and outlook on life will change, for the better.
Before I go, I thought I would share with you ten of my favorite verses about renewing your mind. (Which, is, after all what faking it until you make it, really is, right?)
It is another fresh, new year. I can’t think of a better time to start making some positive changes to your life and lifestyle than right now, can you? At the top of many people’s list is to get in better shape. This is always a good idea. Your health should be a top priority. At the top of my list this year is to simply spend more time with God and grow in my spiritual relationship with Him. Don’t you think you would like to add this to your list too? Well, you are in luck, because I have the perfect way to combine both goals into one. (We can kill two proverbial birds with one stone!)
I often find it is easier to make small changes in my life, rather than try to do anything too drastic. I also know that I get excited about the prospect that I can make my life better and I get gung ho about things. And, while it is good to be excited and have a good attitude, I have realized the hard way that going slow and steady is a much better way to achieve any goal I have.
Change is never easy and can often be difficult. If we take small incremental steps, we are much more likely to stick with the changes we make. We build up those small steps and before you know it, you are making great strides. But, it all begins with baby steps.
And, speaking of baby steps, if you would like to get in better shape this year, might I suggest taking a walk? I know, I know, walking doesn’t necessarily sound compelling or mind-blowing—but walking is a great foundation on which to build your exercise routine.
Walking allows you to build up a solid cardio foundation. Walking prepares your body for future cardio and strength exercises. It helps your body to circulate blood and aids in the removal of waste from your body. Laying the proper groundwork is the key for future and continued success.
Having a good friend to workout with makes exercising easier. It gives you someone to be accountable to and makes it more fun. However, finding a reliable companion can be tricky. So, I have a splendid idea for you--make God your walking buddy! Walking is a fantastic opportunity to spend more time with God. He is the ultimate friend. He will always be there with you and for you. He will never flake out on you or leave you hanging.
Walking gives you the ideal opportunity to spend true, valuable, quality time with the person who loves you most. One of my all-time favorite things is to just be outside walking in nature. It is the perfect setting to reflect on God and His glory. You can soak up the beauty and get in tune with that still quite voice of God. It is also the ultimate time to talk to God. He is a great listener. And, He longs to hear from you.
Walk and talk to God. Tell Him about your day. Tell Him about every little thing that is on your heart and mind. Hand Him your troubles, worries, and fears. He will gladly carry all that weight and stress for you. (See Matthew 11:28-30)
By walking and talking to God, we can build up our physical and spiritual health at the same time. In my book this is definitely a win-win. So, let’s get moving! Are you with me?
It is that time of year again. You know—that time when we look back over the past year and start thinking ahead to the new, up-coming, year. Many of us will be making “New Year’s Resolutions” and trying to figure out ways to make said resolutions do-able and achievable.
Now, I am not here today to talk about looking ahead with hope. (Although, that is what you should be doing.) Nope, today I want to talk to you about looking back, about being retrospective.
When I was in high school, our yearbook was called “Retrospect”. I always thought that that was a cool and fitting name for a yearbook. Having a yearbook allows us to “look back” and contemplate and remember the past. And, if you enjoyed high school, this is a nice way to reflect on those happy times. If you didn’t enjoy high school, well, I suspect you would not want to even own a yearbook. Who wants to be reminded of anything painful?
Many people will tell you not to look back. There is a popular saying that goes something like, “Don’t look back, you’re not going that way.” The Bible even tells us in Luke 9:62, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” And, while I agree that it is better to focus on the future, I do believe there can be significant value in looking back. (Just don’t stay there too long!)
As I grow in my spiritual life, the main reasons I like to look back, are three-fold:
1. When I take time to consider my past, I can see just how much I have changed and grown. This is a good thing. It shows me how far I have come. Plus, it is great encouragement and motivation that will help to keep me moving forward and stretching myself. I long to be a reflection of Christ. And, while I will never fully get there in this life, I have a drive within to get as close as I possibly can.
2. Looking back allows me to see God working in my life. It allows me to see His hand at work. This is a marvelous thing! I can look back on situations that, at the time, I thought were horrible, but in hind-sight I can see the beauty that was created from them. It is a powerful reminder of how God can work everything for our good, if we let Him. (See Romans 8:28)
3. And, finally, mulling over my past grants me the opportunity to simply be grateful. As I shared in a recent post, having an attitude of gratitude is fundamental in our spiritual growth and in our everyday walk with God. Every chance we get to be grateful should be seized upon immediately. What better way to be grateful than by looking back at our past blessings?
So, as the new year fast approaches, I implore you to spend some time in active retrospect. Don’t be afraid to look back, draw out all the positive things over the last year, and use those things to grow into the person you long to be.
The key is to understand that you can’t live in the past. You can’t spend your entire life looking back and dwelling on things that have already happened. You need to move forward. But, by taking the time to consciously look back and use that occasion to grow spiritually, you can develop into the person you truly want to be.
As Christmas approaches, I can’t help but think about how many people are hurting in this world. For whatever reason, Christmastime seems to put a spotlight on people who are suffering or are in need. (At least, it feels that way to me.)
The older I get and the more I grow in my own spiritual relationship with God, the more I realize that we are all hurting in some form or fashion. Some of us may not even register it. Are there things that you do that you don’t like, but take comfort in? (Eating sugary snacks or smoking, for instance.) Do you find yourself being resentful of other people and what they have? Do you battle feelings of insecurity? Are there aspects of yourself that you hide from your loved ones, because you are ashamed of them? I think all of these are signs that you are hurt and need healing in some way.
Our hurts can be physical, emotional, spiritual, or mental. This is why you see so many people who are sad, angry, insecure, discontent, or just plain lost.
What we need is healing. We all need it. You need it. I need it. Our country needs it. Our world needs it.
So, instead of waiting for the new year, make a resolution now and start your healing today.
And, I am sure you are asking, exactly how do I go about this? Well, I am certainly no expert, but I will tell you that a great place to start is with God. I truly believe that God can and will heal you. And, He is really the only one who can.
The second thing I would tell you is that kindness works wonders. Kindness is a miracle drug for the soul.
Learn to be kind. Start your healing today. This is my Christmas wish for you.
Be kind to yourself. Be kind to everyone around you. Be kind to your environment—the world and all of God’s creatures living in it.
Wisely pursue healing and start with kindness. Rewire your thinking and start creating thought patterns that are kind. Start with being kind to yourself. Practice thinking about yourself the way that God thinks about you. Start your practicing now and don’t stop! Remember that old joke about Carnegie Hall? If not, let me refresh your memory. Question: “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” Answer: “Practice, practice, practice.”
How do you get to healing? Be kind, be kind, be kind. Practice being kind. Think Godly thoughts about yourself. God created you and He loves you unconditionally, just as you are. God thinks that you are an amazing and wonderful person. Every negative thought you have about yourself, stop them as soon as they start and redirect them to the powerful and positive ones that God thinks about you. This way of thinking about yourself is much healthier. And remember, God already knows the plans He has for you and they are good plans to prosper, not to harm you, to give you a hope and a future. (See Jeremiah 29:11).
Once you start thinking more kindly about yourself, turn your kindly thoughts towards others. This not only allows you to help in their healing, but it allows you to continue in your own healing as well. It has been scientifically proven that being kind is good for your health. Kindness eases anxiety, is good for your heart, helps you live longer, reduces stress, and helps prevent illness. A key thought to remember here is the “Golden Rule”—treat others the way you want to be treated. (See Matthew 7:12). I don’t know about you, but I very much appreciate being treated kindly.
Being kind changes your heart. When your heart changes, your outlook on life changes. And, this is where true healing begins. Ask God for His help—He is just waiting to hear from you, help you, and heal you.
My Christmas wish this year is for healing. Healing for you. Healing for me. Healing for all of us.
I will leave you with this wonderful prayer to get you started. It is from Susie Larson:
I know You want this for me. I want this for me. Help me to retrain my thoughts and reframe my perspective. I marvel at how often my thoughts take me downward. But like an eagle that soars in the sky, You call me to set my sights on things above. I need supernatural help with this! Fill me afresh with a strong sense of Your presence and Your peace. Help me to remember the great things You have done. May I one day marvel at how my thoughts reflect a heart and mind that are healed and whole, just like You always intended them to be. Do a miracle in me, Lord.
In Your Name, I pray.
Thanks to Thanksgiving being in November, November has become known as the month for thankfulness. As I posted last year, One Day Isn’t Enough to be thankful. I think now is the perfect time to remind each of you, and myself as well, that having an attitude of gratitude every day is vitally important for our emotional well-being and general overall health.
Being grateful is defined as “warmly or deeply appreciative of kindness or benefits received; thankful.” As we grow in our spiritual lives, and realize how powerful and transformative gratitude is, we will embrace all it has to offer with arms open wide. Every experience we have, every situation we face, no matter how seemingly good or bad, is an opportunity to look for things to be grateful for. In every situation, a blessing can be found.
Oftentimes, these blessings can only be found as we look back. Retrospectively looking back allows us to find hidden gems that we couldn’t see at the time—if we only take some time to search for them carefully. I know that in my own life, I have repeatedly found this to be true. Every time this happens I think of the “beauty from ashes” Bible verse. (See Isaiah 61: 1-3)
When we have an attitude of gratitude about everything in our lives, it will change our perspective. We shift. We grow. And, ultimately, we will transform. And, that my friends, is exactly what God wants us to do. It benefits not only us, but everyone around us as well.
When we start looking at our lives through the eyes of gratitude, it can greatly change our views. All those little annoyances that drive us crazy every day, all those petty, insignificant jabs that life throws at us on a day-to-day basis, they can be gone in the blink of an eye. How? Gratitude! It is the way in which we can overcome all these things and more.
If you do some research online, you will find numerous scientific studies have documented a multitude of benefits come from practicing gratitude. Being grateful increases joy, pleasure, and optimism, as well as reduces anxiety and depression. When we are grateful, our physical health improves; our blood pressure lowers, our immune system strengthens, and our symptoms of illness are reduced.
Grateful people sleep better. (And, who doesn’t want that??) They get more sleep, spend less time awake before falling asleep, and wake up feeling more rested. If you want to sleep more soundly, this is the perfect opportunity to spend good quality time in prayer, thanking God for all your blessings.
Having a grateful attitude bolsters relationships. It lets us feel closer and better connected to our family, friends, and even strangers. It has been proven that when partners feel and express their gratitude for each other, they become more satisfied with their relationships.
When we are grateful, something magical happens. We become more loving, compassionate, gracious, helpful, and generous. In essence, we become more like Jesus. His love and light shines through us for others to see. And, then a domino effect starts to take place. When others see, and sense our gratitude and the joy and contentment it brings, they want to be like that too. It is such a beautiful way to live our lives and share the glory of the Lord with others. Don’t you want to try it?
I leave you today with a quote from Richard Carlson:
“Demonstrate gratitude for the simple things in life…a sunset, rain, insects, birds, children laughing, or a kind gesture…Appreciative people are happy; they see the beauty in life while others miss it.”
Thank you, Lord
for the rain
Thank you, Lord
for the pain
That allows me to grow
in love and light
Thank you, Lord
for the trails I face
Thank you, Lord
for your redeeming grace
That reminds me
I am not alone in this fight
Thank you, Lord
for your guidance and your Word
Thank you, Lord
that your voice can be heard
That all show me
how to live each day and do what is right
Thank you, Lord
for the joy you bring
Thank you, Lord
for giving us your everything
That we may reflect and be
a shining star in your sight
Do you remember being a little kid, trying your best to carry something big or heavy? Did you have a lot of trouble with that thing? Did you struggle with it? Did you take a few steps and realize that, even though you wanted to carry it and thought you could carry it, that you could not carry it? Then, if you were blessed like me, you would call your mom or dad to help and they would just carry it for you.
Well, even as an adult I can still feel like that little kid from time to time. As an adult, I often find myself trying to carry things that are much too big for me carry. You do too sometimes, don’t you?
I know you do!
In my analogy above, the object you are carrying around as a kid is a physical object. But, as adults we carry around things that are much heavier and much more draining. You know what I am talking about, right? These are the things that can start eating away at you every day, like: stress, guilt, bitterness, disappointment, and the like. They are all burdens. (And, if you are similar me, you may even be carrying around other people’s stress, guilt, bitterness, and/or other burdens too.)
I think this is just something we tend to do as we get older. We start carrying around all this…well, crap (for lack of a better word.) And, honestly, we don’t need to be carrying any of it.
Well, there is something we all need to be reminded of—and that is that whatever it is that we are carrying around right now—we can just hand it over to God.
That stress you feel from trying to do EVERYTHING and do it right—hand it over to God.
That preconceived notion that to be happy you MUST find your calling work-wise, and all the weight that comes along with that—hand it over to God.
That resentment you feel from being passed over for that promotion—hand it over to God.
That guilt you feel because you can’t be at your child’s soccer game AND take your parent to the doctor at the same time—hand it over to God.
That bitterness you feel towards yourself for that mistake you made—hand it over to God.
That disappointment you feel when life simply doesn’t go according to plan—hand it over to God.
One of the greatest things about being a child of God, is that Christ our Father, will gladly carry any and all of our burdens for us. We can hand Him all our stress, animosity, guilt, shame, disappointments, and the like.
I think that as Christians we all know this. But, for whatever reason, we tend to forget it. Or, maybe we just don’t know how to hand these types of things over to God.
I have found that the best way to hand them over to God is to just talk to Him about them. Spend some good, quality time with Him and tell Him what is on your heart and mind. Express to Him how you are truly feeling, in whatever way you can. Maybe it is through words, singing, or tears. Next, ask Him to please carry these burdens for you. Then, and this is key, hand them over to Him and STOP worrying and ruminating on them.
I want to leave you with ten Bible verses that reinforce the fact God promises to carry our burdens for us. Commit them to memory and start taking advantage of them today!
I am so glad you are here! I am Erica Strickland, a girl who loves God. My goal here is to simply share His love and light.