Blog #42 The Pain of Imitating
My husband can do spot-on impersonations. From celebrities to family members, he can deliver a flawless performance that will leave you in stitches. It’s quite the party trick.
But though his antics are in jest, there is a sobering amount of imitating that exists in our culture today. Posts and pictures displaying happiness, wealth, victory and fame stab at our insecurities and shortcomings. Without even being conscious of it, we long to be someone else.
I often find myself falling prey to the same outcome. As a speaker and a writer, I compare myself to those with similar aspirations and struggle to measure up. I’ll never be as good at writing, marketing, etc. As I have been wrestling with this recently, I have come to this conclusion.
We don’t imitate to become someone else, rather we imitate to gain what that person has achieved. A life of:
And the list goes on…
If only I could be like her, then I could have what she has, becomes our unspoken mantra. Need an example? Compare the Instagram posts of several teenage girls you know. I guarantee you’ll find an abundance of selfies and an even greater abundance of comments focused solely on their outward beauty. They want to be beautiful and imitate their friends to achieve it.
Adults are modeling this, teenagers are drowning in it, and kids are assuming it is normal.
But it’s not.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Imitation has strong biblical roots. We are exhorted to be imitators of God (Ephesians 5:1), as well as be an example to others (1 Peter 5:3). But when it comes to other people, the Bible clearly spells out who and what to mimic.
“Remember your leaders, who spoke the Word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.” Hebrews 13:7
God never asks us to imitate other people. He only wants us to imitate their faith. Emulating a person doesn’t ends well, because we weren’t designed to be anyone other than ourselves! But striving to duplicate someone’s faith can greatly impact our lives… for the better!
The word imitate means “to follow,” giving us the visual picture of moving forward. It also reminds us that we need people in front of us to follow! Note the verse opens with the reminder to look to the leaders in our lives. So, the Bible, unashamedly, states whom we should follow. I will sum it up like this:
Imitate the faith of those who are further along than you in their faith.
Now, we all might know some Bible beating, judgmental folks that claim to pray for hours on end and are full of commentary on any subject. Is that the faith we are to mirror? No. Remember the verse says, “Consider the outcome of their lives and imitate their faith.”
Is she loving, forgiving, full of compassion? Does he have peace in the midst of tragedy? Hope in the face of despair? Does she not only exhibit trust in God, but you see the results of that trust in her daily life? Do you see God doing things that can only be explained by God in his life?
In short, consider these guidelines:
1. Never imitate a person.
2. Don’t imitate a faith that doesn’t have a life to back it up.
If you find yourself falling into the comparison trap, try and pinpoint what the underlying desire is and take that to God in prayer.
In the meantime, find a faith worth emulating. Take that person to lunch. Inquire about habits. Ask questions. Take notes. And then get to work!
You are the only one who can stop the deception, and ultimately the pain, of imitation. Longing to be someone you’re not is futile and impossible to achieve. Longing for a stronger faith has lasting benefits and is fully within your grasp.
As long as you’re willing to reach for it.
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