Are we optimists or pessimists? I think we all lean one way or the other… Is the glass half full or half empty? Are we more aware of what is right with the world or more aware of what is not?
Which is the better way to be? Is it about having balance? Or should I become an optimist, more hopeful? What about being realistic? Is that better? Dealing with what is rather than what could be? Can I be too optimistic? Too pessimistic? What should I be? What is right?
Some positive people drive me crazy. Their world doesn’t seem to be my world. Often I feel like they ignore “the data” of life. Broken relationships, not enough money or friends, health problems, job difficulties, etc. What do they do with all of that?
On the other hand, some people see life so negatively I wonder how they keep going. They are so aware of the darkness and brokenness that life seems not worth living. And yet so much of what they see is true.
How does one live in the tension of this world? Two things seem essential to me – hope and gratitude.
Hope seems critical to me in order to face the countless places where life does not work the way it should. Brokenness, evil, sadness and frustration appear all over the place. And yet Jesus promises us one day a New Heaven and a New Earth. The lion will lie down with the lamb. The evil will face justice. No one will be shooting automatic weapons in schools. Friends won’t die too early. Jobs and friendships will be meaningful. Life will work in the ways that you and I both know it should.
But in the meantime, how do I deal with what is not? I have decided that I need to count my blessings. I need to regularly name the places of goodness in my life. I need to thank my Father for the special moments when His kindness is so evident in my world – fun weekends with friends, a good workout, a meaningful Bible study, a nice conversation with my kids, even a Panthers’ victory. I want to savor the moments when life seems to be what it should be… and thank the Giver of good gifts.
When I do, I think I find more balance between the good and the disappointing. I find myself more hopeful and less discouraged. I remind myself that God does show up in some of the bad times, even if He isn’t doing that right now in the ways I would want. And I even thank Him for what will be. I can remember promises for the future, for a hope that will not disappoint, for a victory that will be eternal. And He does give me tastes even now.
In case you can’t guess, I tend to be more aware of what isn’t working than what is. But I am hopeful that’s changing too… and for that I am…..?
Palmer Trice is an ordained Presbyterian minister. He is married to Lynne, has three children and has been in Charlotte since 1979. In his spare time, Palmer enjoys golf, tennis, walking and reading.