The Pretender – My 2019 Lenten Journey

“Fake it ’til you make it.” This is a phrase I heard repeatedly from one of my coaches when I was younger. This phrase was yelled at us to remind us that even if we didn’t feel like the athlete they wanted us to be, we needed to “pull the lead out” (another fun phrase often yelled by my coaches) and at least start behaving like we were in the game.

Throughout my life I have applied the “fake it ’til you make it” philosophy to various things such as love, friendship, and work and not always for the best reasons. I think there is a time when something doesn’t feel right that we need to look to the Lord for wisdom and discernment. However, the really tricky part is when reaching out to the Lord isn’t a natural response for someone.

Prayer has always been a part of my life. When I was young, I said prayers every night with my mom before I went to sleep. When I was older, prayer became a last resort as an act of desperation. It wasn’t until I was in my mid-thirties, when I returned to the Church, that my prayer life really opened up. Now, it is rare if a day goes by without at least saying “thanks” to the Lord.

However, my prayer life, just like many other things in life ebbs and flows. Sometimes, I feel Jesus’ presence beside me all day long. Other days, I neglect to acknowledge his presence with me. The fact is life happens and sometimes I have to “fake it ’til I make it” and almost force myself to pray first thing in the morning. Even if the day is off to a bad start and I’m rushed, my perspective changes when I pause for a moment to tell God, “thank you for this day, for my faith, for my sobriety, and for all the love you have given to me in my life.” The day may not completely shift the course, but it adds love and hope that wasn’t felt prior to the nod to God.

I love music. Weird segue, but I promise I’ll bring it back around. Anyway, music has a way of marking a time in my history so when a song plays again, it can take me back in time and make my emotions swirl. I love the impact music has on my soul. I have a wide range of music interests and a pretty extensive iTunes library. Often, I will be in the car and opt to shuffle all my songs. Let me say up front that I’m not a big Christian music fan. I have a couple of artists in my collection, but I’m more of a secular music kind of gal. I heard a priest say on a podcast recently that we can often find non-secular themes in secular music that can really draw us toward God and help us relate. I agree. Now, like I said in the beginning of this paragraph…I promise I’m bringing the original blog subject back around.

A couple weeks ago after Mass, I was driving home and shuffled my music. “The Pretender” by Jackson Brown began to play. I love Jackson Browne but some of his music reminds me of a dark time in my life and this song is no exception. I decided to apply the priest’s idea by seeking out a message, since I had such an emotional response to the song. As I sang, I cried and then it all hit home when I got to the lyrics:

In those things that money can buy
where true love could have been a contender
Are you there?
Say a prayer for the Pretender.
Who started out so young and strong
Only to surrender.

Say a prayer for the pretender

Are you there for the pretender?

And even though the real meaning behind Jackson Browne’s lyrics is different that how I interpreted them that evening after Mass, they spoke to me in a way that reminded me of my own story.

Sometimes we are so compromised by counterfeit gods that we don’t even know we are missing out on our true love contenders. Are you there?

Say a prayer for the pretenders. Say a prayer that we can all “fake it ’til we make it” in our dried up prayer lives, so we can get back on His path. Say a prayer that we can surrender and take time to give thanks to the Lord for all his gifts.

And get up and do it again.

Amen.

Lyrics to “The Pretender” written by Jackson Browne

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