I hate that expression. Discouraged people are the ones who use it, usually quoting some “helpful” advice they’ve been given. “When you don’t feel like obeying or being happy or maintaining belief, just fake it ’til you make it.” Put on a mask so that other people think you are kind or joyful or faithful. Yeah, that will solve your problems. And why in the world did Jesus waste all that time talking about the inner man if He just wanted us to fake it? No, He who called Himself “The Truth” doesn’t want us to put on an act.
On the flip side, we all know there are times when our minds, our bodies or our circumstances simply can’t reach a place of peace or joy. Pretending isn’t a good solution, and giving in to rage, terror or hopelessness isn’t either. Thank God there is another way of being.
God gave us each a mind (the logical, thinking part of the brain), a heart (defined here as the seat of emotions) and a will (which initiates choices and actions). This trichotomy is expressed in various translations of the first commandment from Deuteronomy 6:5 and Mark 12:30 − “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” All three parts of the human soul were created to seek God and to reflect Him in the world. God Himself provides the sustenance to keep each part operational. He feeds us truth for our minds, His great love for our hearts and a wise and measured discipline for our wills. It is surprising how often you will find all three of these concepts addressed in concise passages of Scripture, for example Psalm 119:41-44 or Phil 4:7-9.
However, all three of these spiritual elements are equally fallen. Our minds have the tendency to believe lies, our hearts have a tendency to fear, and our will has a tendency toward prideful disobedience. Scripture tells us that our idols speak deceit (Zech. 10:2), our hearts do not fear God alone (Is. 8:12, 13) and we are inclined toward evil in our habits and choices (Gen. 6:5).
It is God’s grace that when one element fails, we have the others to pull us upward. There are Scriptural exhortations and examples for each. We are to be transformed through the renewing of our minds (Rom. 12:2). Sometimes it is the heart which leads with love (Ruth 1:16). And our will must be conformed to the image of Christ even when we don’t really want to go there (James 1:22). In the case of those who talk about faking it, I think they are actually saying that their mind and/or their will is leading them toward God while their heart feels far from Him. The will acting upon truth rather than emotion is in no way a pretense − any more than the widow’s mite (the will acting upon compassion rather than logic) is a pretense.
In God’s original plan, heart, mind and will would perfectly align as we reflected the image of our Maker. There is no longer perfection or harmony between souls or inside of them, but just as we have the community of God to help us when we are weak, so we have three means of approaching God from within. It is important for us to use whatever godly impulse we have in our heart, mind or will to reach for the empowering Spirit who enables us to approach the throne of grace from many angles. That struggle is very human, very valuable and very real.