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Thursday, July 14, 2016

Optimist

I was sort of a gloomy little kid. My cynical phase started in elementary school and never really ended.

Meanness, betrayal, ugly truths revealed by education, the news, personal experiences of how horrid people can be – all these things caused me to regard the world with general wariness.

People are mean. We’re mean. We delight in watching train wrecks, love counting the bodies.

My husband consumes world events. He sits at the kitchen table with his iPad and tells me what’s happening. He asks “Did you hear about…?” My answer is a vague Sure, sometimes No.

Ugliness, fighting, senseless killing and other tragedies: these are uncovered, dissected, examined every day. More bombs dropped, literally and figuratively. It’s become a competition to see what Big Important News Story can get the most entertainment miles. It’s happening; every angle is covered. Tomorrow will bring another thing to be outraged about – that’s a guarantee.

My husband can examine a news story, understand the relative importance of it, hold onto its entertainment value for a second, and let it go. I scan a news item and immediately descend into a rabbit hole of moral, philosophical, and cultural repercussions. It's hard to find my way out. I read sparingly.

Recently I had a conversation with some friends about how social media is turning into a forum for opinions and editorials. For every news item that gets its time in the spotlight, thousands of people are ready to spout their opinions. It’s not what I signed up for, to learn which of my friends are for or against gun control, which presidential candidate they support, what civil rights issue is most important right now.

I signed up on social media to see pictures, to hear funny life experiences, to chat and to connect. That hasn’t changed for me.

I wondered if I have my head in the sand, that I shut my eyes to keep the bad stuff out, that I am na├»ve and stupid and silly for staying away from bandwagons, that I am missing The Big Parade. I care about things that happen in the world – I’m not cavalier about them. But I also don’t wring my hands and worry about them – I can figure out what I can do to help, and sometimes it’s to pray and continue to live this life, to love God and love others.

Then my friend said something that reoriented my perspective:

“Man sinned in the garden. Sin was defeated on the cross but we live with it until Jesus comes again. Evil has its 15 minutes. Jesus wins. The end.”

I am a Christian. I believe in this truth, that God has a plan for each of us, for all of us together. Terrible things happen because of the sin in this world. War and famine and terrorism and hate – they are all the same to God. They aren’t what he wanted when he created this world, but it’s what people have started, and his plan allows us to be redeemed by Christ, to live in a perfect world that is forthcoming.

No evil is bigger than God’s good. I believe that he planted this truth in me, which is maybe a reason why I don’t jump onto bandwagons. I don’t have to figure out why the world is as it is today. I know why. The things that are happening are terrible for sure, and things to come are worrisome, but I believe that good will prevail.

I will stay away from meanness, from the terrible things that people do to each other. I will scroll past fantastic news stories, and refrain from engaging into discussions about the issue of the day. This world is broken – I don’t need to read a hundred articles to understand this, and I don’t want to have conversations illustrating just how bad things are. It breaks me down, focusing on the bad stuff, and I was not created to be broken down. I was created to be a light to shine in this world. To pray and to live this life.

I have hope that God will do what he promised he would. My role is to proclaim this hope.

Maybe I’m not so gloomy after all.

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No one lights a lamp and then hides it or puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where its light can be seen by all who enter the house.
Your eye is like a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is filled with light. But when it is unhealthy, your body is filled with darkness. Make sure that the light you think you have is not actually darkness. If you are filled with light, with no dark corners, then your whole life will be radiant, as though a floodlight were filling you with light.
Luke 11: 33-36
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