Thursday, March 12, 2009

optimism



I am an optimist. The glass is half-full, there's a silver lining, hope for the best, stranger things have happened, you never know... Optimist. Usually I am well served by this -- I tend to be happy and hopeful most of the time and I don't typically get bogged down in endless 'what ifs'.

But I am learning that there is a flip-side to being an optimist, and it ain't pretty. You see, as an optimist, I often choose to be blissfully ignorant of signs that are pointing toward a negative outcome. I might pick up a signal here or there, but I usually dismiss them. Why waste time worrying that something bad might happen when there's still a chance that it won't happen? Which is all well and good, until the bad thing does happen and I'm left with my jaw on the ground feeling like Wile E. Coyote, post-anvil. Not fun.

There is one area of life where I have lost my rose-colored glasses, where optimism is no longer my default position. We suffered a miscarriage between having our two children. While I still hope for the best with every friend or family member's pregnancy announcement, I can no longer take anything for granted in that realm. Which makes me wonder: will this happen with other areas of my life over time? As I get older and experience more of the unavoidable losses that are part of life in our broken world, will my optimism die a slow piecemeal death?

Maybe. But I'm not sure that's all bad. Going through the pain and loss of miscarriage has stripped away my unquestioning optimism when it comes to pregnancy. But in its place, something else has grown, something truer and, surprisingly, even more hopeful. I learned to open my hands and say, Your will be done. I learned that whether my deepest fears are realized or my wildest dreams come true, our God is faithful. He never leaves us. As I've said in previous posts, and I'll keep saying until He comes again, the end of the story is good because of the victory of Jesus Christ: His life, death, and resurrection.

If that is what grows when optimism dies... Let it die.

3 comments:

Deborah said...

Realism isn't always that bad, and it isn't pessimism as people try make it out to be. Keeping it real nice, because real is where you find Jesus and where you find true hope, and he still holds you up even when you are let down by your situation. I mean at least, that's kinda the way I see things.

I think this pretty much goes back to your platitudes posts, if you think about it.

(Hey, is that glass really halfway? I mean, technically? Since from top to bottom it's the halfway point, but it's conical-ish shaped and the bottom is smaller than then top? That glass is, like, less than half full! They're cheating you!)

Amy said...

I'm (slowly) learning that optimism isn't the same as hope. Hope is what I can have even though we know that things might not (or won't) turn out the way I want them to in this lifetime, but I still know that God is working. I can have hope even when there is nothing to be optimisitic about.

Haley Ballast said...

Thanks for the comments ladies. Deb, I also had my 'platitudes' post in mind when I was writing this post... I agree, they are related. Amy thanks for your perspective too. Have either of your guys read N.T. Wright's book, Suprised by Hope? I just started it and it is amazing. I highly recommend it if you haven't already read it.