I find I tend towards cynicism. I easily doubt, and call it a 'healthy dose of reality.' Or in whatever circumstances come along, my gut reaction is to be skeptical. A 'yeah right' type of attitude. On the flip side (another snide character trait of cynics), is to denigrate and poke fun at what we call 'the Polyanna's' in our world. We take cheap shots at their (seemingly) rose-coloured view of the world. I feel called to repent of my poor attitude. At the root is a snobbery of sorts. One that says, 'You won't fool me into feeling good about something - oh no, I will wait until the misery I know is about to come eventually happens and then with smug self-satisfaction I can sit back and say I knew it was coming all along.' The sad part about this, as I confront this reality in my own heart, is that I feel it is inherently wrong, and it has robbed me of the joyful appreciation of many of God's gifts to me.
The dark side of me (the Eeyore I tend to be) wants to say, 'Sometimes gifts come in dark packaging. Pain is a gift. Sorrow is a gift. Suffering is a gift.' I must comment that of course these things are true - all that comes from the good hand of God is a gift. It may not seem like it, but to the cynics out there like me, we have a sort of weird appreciation of the hard things of life. Perhaps it's because I've grown so much through hard times. For a while I didn't know growth was possible outside of pain and deep suffering of the soul. I would hear talk of 'victorious Christian living' and want to vomit. My cynicism, while helping me to appreciate pain and the difficult things of life that God brings us through, robbed me of entering into the non-painful gifts God has given, and continues to give.
Whoever is reading this blog probably has come across some parts of my story as I'm telling it, though I am only about two weeks into it (oh how wordy I can be! - my apologies!), can sense the adventure, excitement and horrors that I've only begun to describe. But a recurring theme, already, is that of mistrust. It comes up over and over again in my life. People have said they think I have a lot of faith. I don't know if that is true, but I do know my cynicism has at times dampened what faith I do have.
I want to repent of it. And apologize to those who live a different way - who don't see every circumstance with dire doses of 'reality' - those who instead look through the eyes of hope and faith. I use these words so freely, but feel I so often miss what they actually mean in my life. I have wasted too much of my life second-guessing God - thinking He has some painful lesson to teach me just around the corner - so much so that I fail to fully embrace the joyful gifts He presents to me on a regular basis.
Would it shock you to know I have not wept with joy at any of the births of our four children? It is shameful for me to put this here in public! As much as I've dealt with and conquered (at times) fear in my life, I feel the lack of obvious joy is a tell-tale sign that fear, apprehension and mistrust still sometimes take center stage. Joy is almost scary for me to enter into - the cynic in me wants to shout 'No! Don't be gullible...who knows what sorrows your life has yet to hold?' This is terrible, and I can't believe I'm admitting this here. Confession is good for the soul I presume.
Sometimes I tell people that I am underwhelming. This is because the Drama Quotient of my life has already been met in my first 30 years so there is no more drama I believe that my life can take! But the cynic in me doesn't really believe that.
So I say with Paul, in one of my favourite chapters of the Bible:
"Oh wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? (In my case, this tendency towards cynicism, doubt and distrust)"
Who will deliver me? Who HAS delivered me? And Whose blessing do I miss when I leave Him out of my heart and my experiences of life?
"I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 7)
He is the one who delivers me from my dour outlook. He is the One Who patiently gives and gives and gives again even when the gifts are received hesitantly.
I pray I can live with joyful thanksgiving rather than with pessimistic cynicism.