Do You Feel Like a Spiritual Imposter?
Are you afraid of being seen as a failure? Do you worry that you’ll be exposed as a fraud? Do you feel unworthy of God’s love?
If you can relate, you might struggle with Imposter Syndrome in your job, church, or personal life. These are places where you feel like a phony, are plagued with self-doubt, and are prone to hiding from others lest you be “found out”. The Far Side humorously captures this feeling all too well:
This cartoon hits a nerve and makes you laugh because we all experience this in some area of our lives. And we all long to be rescued from it.
The truth is, when you realize that where you are is far from where you want to be, you can feel like an imposter. In many ways, Imposter Syndrome is a good description of the Christian life.
Despite your faith in Christ, you likely feel like you don’t measure up. You’re not performing well. You’re working overtime to gain the approval of others. And you aren’t doing enough to please God.
The objective biblical truth that “God loves you” is overrun by suspicions that you are unlovable and cannot trust that God’s grace is more powerful than your sin.
As a result, you ride an emotional roller coaster of spiritual successes and failures. If you have a “good” day, you feel proud and maybe even look down on others who don’t have it figured out yet. If you have a “bad” day, you descend into a shame spiral and wonder if you’ve disqualified yourself from God’s love.
The common theme on both good and bad days is the need to hide from God and others because you feel like a fraud: “I call myself a Christian, but there are ugly parts of me that I don’t want anyone to know about.”
Always Falling Short
The feeling of being an imposter can be debilitating. And it leaves countless Christians in a place of discouragement and defeat.
Maybe you follow Jesus, but you believe deep in your heart that you are displeasing and unacceptable to God. You base your relationship with God on a formula: “If my good outweighs my bad, I’m worthy of God’s acceptance.”
What happens when your bad outweighs your good? The deficit between your performance and God’s perfection quickly fuels the feelings of being a spiritual imposter.
You know you’re flawed, defective, and can’t measure up, but now you must pretend to have it all together to hide your shame. At your core, you cannot imagine God would love you in your failures, weakness, and imperfections.
As counselors, we know this is where people get stuck because clients often sit across from us exhausted, run-down, and hopeless. Church attendance, bible study, serving, and even prayer don’t seem to bring peace or consolation.
No matter hard they try to please God, it feels like they’re falling short of his grace and future blessing.
When they attempt to connect to God, they feel they are inherently unworthy. They are simply playing the role of an imposter—someone who really doesn’t belong.
Always Needing God
So, what’s the remedy for feeling like a spiritual imposter? To be grounded in grace.
Honestly, most of us are only acquainted with God’s grace, not grounded in it.
We know of God’s grace intellectually, but we live disconnected from it experientially. Instead, we depend on our own performance to win over God’s affections and the approval of others.
To be grounded in grace, you must learn that the essence of grace is the safe foundation of God’s love secured by his son Jesus. When you feel safe, you can see that your weakness, failure, sin, and shame invite you to trust. And when you trust God’s grace and depend on him, you are pleasing him.
Simply put: Needing God pleases God.
Needing God looks like humility, vulnerability, authenticity, and no reason to hide your shame. Being grounded in grace means you can lean into your limitations and failures and come out of hiding.
It’s the difference between thinking: “Oh no, I messed up! I hope God doesn’t find out,” and thinking: “Oh no, I messed up! I need to talk to my Father about this.”
Grounded in Grace
Do you want to learn how different your life would be if you understood grace?
With You in the Weeds launched a new series called Grounded in Grace. Here, we invite you to stop feeling like a spiritual imposter and instead embrace your status as a child of God, safe and secure in his love and grace.
This series will address how to manage the weeds of sin, doubt, perfectionism, and self-condemnation. We hope that you come to understand that your brokenness and failures move God’s heart toward you—not away from you.
Being grounded in grace comes through the experience of being loved even when you feel unlovable. That’s where the gospel of grace freely given through faith in Jesus intersects with your deepest longing: to be known and loved.
If you’re ready to get off the spiritual roller coaster and exchange the feeling of being a spiritual imposter for a beloved child of God, this series will offer powerful truth that could be the remedy you’ve been looking for.
Listen to the first episode of With You in The Weeds’ new series, Grounded in Grace. Available now!