I lied.  Maybe you could call it “faking it” rather than outright lying.  But I was fully self-aware that I was faking it, so I think that makes it a lie.  I’m not good with names, I never have been.  And now that I no longer work at a small or mid-sized church but rather on a campus of 1,500 students plus faculty and staff, it’s even harder to match names and faces and to remember who is whom.  Today I was at a gathering of Virginia Conference Clergywomen from all across the state.  The crowd was huge, it’s size was inspiring.  And therefore, of course, I bumped into people I should have known but I didn’t.

I think about my inability to remember names often.  Usually I’m honest, “Remind me your name,” I’ll ask.  “Where did we first meet?” I’ll inquire.  But there are times I just fake it, like today.  I smile and nod, “It’s so good to see you.”

Then I hate myself for doing it.  Why do feel this way?  Well, for one, it’s dishonest.  But I think it also bothers me because when mom’s dementia first began, she “faked it” like a master.  Mom was able to live independently in South Georgia for so long and then in a house alone near me or my brother because she was so good at faking that she was aware of what was going on.  It was a helpful skill for her, but it was a frustrating reality to confront over, and over, and over as we tried to discern just what she did know and what she could remember.

So now I’m the one faking it.  Mom has reached a point where she mostly just goes with the flow.  No more trying to pretend, no more saving face.  She just says what she thinks.  That can be frustrating in its own way, but it’s also refreshing to just be in the moment and to just be honest.  So if mom isn’t faking it and I realize that sometimes I am… that alarms me.

How will I know if or when dementia is creeping into my brain, affecting my reality?   The good news is that I visit UCSF annually and through their testing, they have assured me that they will let me know if/when they see changes in my mental abilities, my memory, etc.  But it’s funny, even knowing that, I still worry.  I still look for signs that I could be slipping.  I wonder if others perceive my weakness and question if dementia has come.

I’ll have the opportunity to stand in the pulpit again in a couple of weeks.  Guess what the passage is that I’ll be preaching on?  Matthew 6:25-34.  It starts and ends this way:

6:25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?

6:26 Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?

6:27 And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?

6:33 But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

6:34 So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”

It’s funny, scripture says nothing about dementia.  And yet, it says so much.


So back to today. There were a couple of familiar faces that I couldn’t match with a name.  But… the gathering was amazing.  The conversation was rich.  The community was genuine.  The Spirit was moving.  As I sit reflecting now (at 11 p.m.), I’m not sure what I had planned to write when I sat down and began this piece.

Today was wonderful in so many ways.  It wasn’t, isn’t about me.  Who cares if I didn’t remember someone’s name?  My place is to seek the kingdom of God… to seek justice, love kindness and to walk humbly with God.  As long as I’m doing that, I probably don’t need to obsess about the morality of faking knowing a name.  There are bigger things to worry about.

Sigh… and yet, aaaaaahh!  It bothers me.  I’m not at peace with pretending to know what I don’t know.

Thankfully, everyone will have a nametag again tomorrow.  Thanks be unto God.

One thought on “Faking it

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