Faking Cheerfulness

fakesmileAre you letting the joy of Jesus show on your face? Never mind that He was a man of sorrows. Let’s ignore that the king upon who’s throne He sits spent a lot of time writing depressed poetry and music. Just put out of your mind the weeping and lamenting prophets. Just let the joy of Jesus shine on your face no matter what. Verbal beatings will commence until morale goes up.

If you’ve ever had a choir director launch a red-faced screaming tirade that you don’t look happy enough…you might have been a fundamentalist.

30 thoughts on “Faking Cheerfulness”

  1. I always found it ironic that we are supposed to be happy, but I have been in at least one Fundy church where it was heresy to suggest Jesus had a sense of humor or told jokes. Being serious all the time was the right way to be a Christian. It may have just been a different branch of Fundamentalism I was in.

    Friends of mine at Bible College belonged to the Bill Gothard branch of Fundamentalism where they had to have a “sparkle” in their eye or something like that. She actually was verbally abused (my opinion) and was fearful that she wasn’t being happy enough. Being in the serious side of Fundyism this was very strange to me.

    1. I hate the song “Happy All The Time”. It’s a lie. Who is happy all the time just because they’re saved? The Ringleader of my last religious social club was a grump.

  2. I have very distinct memories of getting in trouble as a kid and teen for not being happy enough. Those who put on the biggest act of being happy, er, “joyful” were seen as the best Christians. Suffice it to say that Psalm 88 and Jeremiah (the weeping prophet) were *never* preached on, whereas Philippians 4:4 was practically a mantra.

  3. Right on about choir directors.

    It seems the whole problem is that fundies confuse happiness with contentment–and even then St. Paul notes that contentment has to be learned.

  4. Reminds me of the line I heard growing up in the Bill Gothard movement… “Humility is smiling even when you’re hurting”.

    As J.Leslie said…yes, the teaching on “bright eyes”! We had to have “bright eyes”…if you listened to rock music or some other such sin, your eyes were supposedly “dull”.

  5. And the Bill Gothard definition of contentment….

    “Recognizing that God has already provided everything I need for my present HAPPINESS.”

  6. When I saw the subject of this thread all I could think of is the local Baptist minister that is on our local tv station. He comes on the air with the same smile on his face every Sunday. It looks so fake to me. No matter the subject or wether he is praying or making the announcements the look never changes. I think if I were in his congregation I would have to go up to him and slap his face real hard just to give him a more natural look.

  7. A visiting minister looked at my sister (who was shy and serious, but only in public) and said, “Smile, young lady!”

    She said, with a serious face, “I am.”

    It was awesome. He didn’t know what to say at that point.

  8. Ah, yes, ladybug, your sister didn’t have the “Joy of Jesus” like the Patch the Pirate song says:

    Oh, Let the Joy of Jesus put a smile upon your face….
    And let the joy of Jesus every little frown erase…

    One of the hardest things I have ever had to learn is that you can be joyful without being happy.

  9. LOL. . .I thought of the Patch the Pirate song as soon as I read this. . .Some of the other words went:

    “When I put my trust in Jesus,
    He made my heart so glad,
    That I threw away my frowning face,
    For I could not be sad.”

    Yeah, that’s realistic. Almost as much as “I’m inright, outright, upright, downright HAPPY all the time. . “

  10. I have to laugh, because once when I foolishly tried to lead a choir at the IFB church I once went to, I got EVERYONE in the choir (all six of them) mad at me because I asked “If we’re singing about going to heaven, can we at least sound like we’ll be happy to get there?”

    A twenty-something year old girl saying this to a bunch of people in their 60’s and 70’s. It wasn’t a good night.

  11. I was told by my administrator at the Fundy Christian school that I didn’t seem happy and therefore I must not be obeying God, because obedience brings happiness.

    The same person also emphasized to the entire staff that we needed to be “extra happy” during Spirit Week so the students would see how happy Christians are.

    Makes Christianity sound like a drug, you know?

    1. I’m blown away by the whole song “Stained Glass Masquerade” by Casting Crowns, but these lines in particular seemed appropriate:
      “So I tuck it all away, like everything’s okay.
      If I make them all believe it, maybe I’ll believe it too.
      So with a painted grin, I play the part again
      So everyone will see me the way that I see them

      Are we happy plastic people
      Under shiny plastic steeples
      With walls around our weakness
      And smiles to hide our pain?”

    2. Jenni, I just went to your blog and saw you’d already referenced “happy plastic people”!!! Great minds think alike! 😀

      1. @John – No, blessings bring obedience. You got it the wrong way around (and so does the song, trust and obey). Under the new covenant, God blesses, and we respond. Don’t you know you already have all spiritual blessings, and God did it all first?

        Oh yeah, and PW, I love that song too 😀

      2. No, obedience DOESN’T bring happiness. Often it brings misery. I was obedient to my abusive mother but I still cried myself to sleep most nights (quietly of course; if she found out it would be much worse the next day after my dad was gone).
        And let’s not forget my mom-in-law who obediently stayed with her controlling Fundy husband for 25 years. (Til he was caught coming on to teenaged girls in the church.) She wasn’t happy a day of those 25 years, and was then humiliated in the end, but she was obedient amen? 👿

        1. On the flip side, I married my wonderful husband in direct disobedience to my parents (unpardonable sin to fundies) and have been happy every day since. 🙂

        2. Preach it, sister. Obedience, or at least my best possible attempts, made me miserable. Even those times when I got it right (and it had to be _big_, like winning a national competition) didn’t get me any happiness at all. No acceptance, no love, no “attagirl”, nothing. If anything, the standards would be set higher, and nothing done before even mattered.

          It’s impossible to obey enough in Fundamentalism. It’s impossible to earn love… not like love should ever have to be earned anyway. Obedience, especially in Fundamentalism, does not bring happiness. OCD and PTSD, maybe… but certainly not happiness.

          OTOH, getting away from Fundamentalism and into more Biblically-sound churches can bring amazing happiness 😉

      3. Obedience to JESUS brings happiness… but many many people try to step in and use that to control others.
        I have been VERY happy to obey the one who gave His life for me. The pastors and teachers that I had wouldn’t have given two hoots and a howdy for me. But I did obey them when I was under their authority. It just didn’t bring me any happiness.

      4. It does if you’re a golden retriever. Too bad most of us are just people. 🙁 At least dogs show unconditional love, 😎 even if they’re destined for Hell. 😥

  12. This was something that always bothered me at BJU. People weren’t allowed to look sad. And yes many a choir director at BJU would say those exact words.

    A related issue that always bothered me was being friendly. Sermons were preached on how when you walk past someone on the sidewalk you had to give them a smile and say hello. If you didn’t then your salvation was questioned. It always bothered me because in IL, where I grew up, you didn’t need to talk to people you passed. In fact, it was discouraged. Oh a friendly wave in a small town might be fine…or a quick smile because you happened to meet eyes, but if you didn’t acknowledge the random stranger passing you on the street both parties were ok with this. Not in the south and for sure not at BJU. Constantly people would ask if something was wrong, “no you’re just in my way.” Or “I was contemplating not talking to you.” In Boston things are actually better then in IL. In fact two coworkers passing in the office have no obligation to talk to each other. Strangers on the street shouldn’t talk to each other or risk dirty looks and bad language. Quite frankly I like this better. In Boston if someone talks to you it is because they really want to talk to you not because their society tells them they have to fake it.

    P.S. The Boston stuff is only a slight exaggeration, but an exaggeration nonetheless. We are friendly here and no you won’t get shot if you smile at your neighbor…at least not in most neighborhoods 😈

    1. Mark: you too!? I got chewed out for not talking to people on the sidewalk. I figured that people were in as much of a hurry as I was, I was a lot more introverted then, and all that small-talk was so fakey anyway, so I just didn’t do it. I’d smile, nod, or whatever… but noooooo! Not enough! So I went along to get along… but it felt so fake.

      Fundamentalism: Training social phonies since 1910-ish.

Comments are closed.