I’ve always viewed myself as an idealist. I can dream up ideal situations of any kind. I dream of a utopia, where everything works as it should, people treat each other with respect and kindness, and give God’s creation the care that it should receive. I dream a lot.
In my mind, I am aware of the reality of sin, but that reality hasn’t sunk in. It remains a concept that lives only in my head, for the most part.
You can imagine what happens when actual reality, the kind that doesn’t live in head, collides with the utopia I have inside my head. It’s not pretty. It usually results in pessimism and loss of hope, which eventually leads to a wicked cynicism.
A tranquil, bright blue body of water surrounded by trees, birds singing, the sun shining brightly but not too hot. You are in a canoe, humming happily, peacefully paddling to nowhere, but eventually hoping to reach the other side of the water. Suddenly the water becomes very murky and thick, and it becomes harder to paddle. The water is almost like mud. You furiously paddle harder and faster, and only manage to inch along. About twenty feet later, a fin pokes its way through the surface on the right side of the canoe, and on the left side, you glimpse a crocodile snout. Losing all hope, you stop paddling. What’s the point? You’re just going to be eaten, anyway. And nobody will come to help.
After my ideals collide with reality, I begin to dream again. But these dreams are not happy dreams. In these dreams I imagine everything that could possibly go wrong, and WHAT IFS flood every space in my imagination. It’s paralyzing.
It’s difficult for a person in this situation to actively cling to hope. And I’m not even speaking of an individual who is going through legitimate suffering.
This applies to my current writing habits. I try and think of things to write, and then promptly shoot them down with the excuse that better people are already thinking and writing about those things, and much better than I ever could. Thus, I don’t write. Other criticisms emerge, such as: don’t use your blog as a journal, that’s sappy stuff nobody wants to read. Don’t blog that, that doesn’t sound theologically coherent. And the list goes on.
It’s easy to to abandon optimism and hope in exchange for pessimism and cynicism.
But, and this I tell (and pack the punch to) myself as well as everybody else who struggles with pessimism (you might even be reading this, who knows?): abandoning hope is stupid. Abandoning joy is stupid. Especially if you believe what scripture says is true. You have the best Hope of all hopes to cling to, and it’s the last reason in the world to give up.
So, don’t give up. Don’t give in. Pursue joy like you’re training for a marathon, and cling to hope like a gnarly burr on a wool sweater. And dwell on this with me:
Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. According to His great mercy, He has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (!) 1 Pt 1.3