In my early 20s, I became a cynic. I gleefully excelled in the twisted art of poking holes and always finding the worst in things. (Oh what a joy I was to be around.) And after a couple years, I assumed that I must be a fundamentally pessimistic, negative person.
But over the last decade or so – through honest friendships, plenty of therapy, and God’s grace – the “thing beneath the thing” has been coming to light. As it turns out, I’m not a cynic at all. Not even a “glass is half empty” person. But instead…
I’m a hopeless optimist who doesn’t know how to deal with disappointment.
I can see the epic beauty of what’s possible, and this fills me with life, passion, and hope. There’s always a glorious new idea to chase around the upcoming corner. But when reality doesn’t live up to what’s in my head and heart, I am often crushed by the disappointment.
Are there any frustrated idealists out there? Raise your hand if you’ve been hiding under cynical armor. I see that hand. Me too.
To be honest, the last two weeks of global events have been overwhelming and depressing. Especially the devastation in Gaza. And even though I believe that every person on earth has been invited to join God in healing and restoring the world, lately I just want to give up. Things will NEVER be completely fixed, so why keep trying?
“What keeps us going is the possibility of proximate justice—of something rather than nothing—knowing ahead of time that it will never be everything on this side of the consummation. Francis Schaeffer called this the vision and hope of substantial healing, arguing that it was the antidote to the all-or-nothing syndrome that so afflicts us, whether in the most personal parts of life, as with marriage, or the most public, as with political engagement. I really hoped, I really tried, and it didn’t work—so I’m done. His words have been a great grace to me for a long time. A person can touch and feel something that is substantial; it is real, even if it is not everything—but it is not nothing, either.”
Are you as inflicted by “the all-or-nothing syndrome” as I am? Either my job is everything I’ve ever dreamed it can be…or I want to quit. Either my marriage is like the movies every second…or I want to bail. Either I am single-handedly bringing peace to the Middle East…or what’s the point of even trying. Right?
Please take a moment to soak in the challenging and healing words from Stephen Garber below. He has given his life to both gut-wrenching honesty AND relentless hope…or as he says “I do not know of any challenge that is more difficult than to really know the world, and still choose to love it.” We can’t give up. Honesty and hope. Leaning in with eyes and hearts wide open…