I saw this poster recently, and it’s stuck with me. I’m someone who thinks through scenarios in my head. I try to plan for contingencies. I’m a planner, part of the administrator in me.
I find myself getting extra plates and extra cups. I put out more utensils than we will need for a gathering. I bring extra money on a shopping trip, “just in case”. Okay. Well, clothes shopping isn’t really a contingency issue. Maybe a cute little spring dress will…call out to me. I must answer, right?!
This poster above is how optimists think. At least, looking at it from the realist/pessimism point of view, it seems that way. I see what is. I see the bad things and the shortcomings. I sense what could go wrong. But those Pollyanna folks see all the great outcomes. They see their kids, down the road in the future, serving God and bringing him glory. I see those same kids struggling right now to even attend church. It makes me gloomy, in point of fact. Glass-is-half full people figure out how to make the most of their money, deliberately building joy and surprises into the mundane tasks of bill-paying and keeping house. Us glass-is-half-empty types only see that the month is 1/3 gone and the money is running out. We feel like indentured servants to our jobs. We see no hope.
I’ve painted stark pictures. These days, I tend to fall more in the mid-range on pessimism. Jesus has worked on me. My husband has helped with this also. He’s a natural optimist. He’s a happy person. So is Ruby. They get happiness out of small things, like donuts on Friday and riding their bikes on sunny days. I admire them. There’s a beautiful contentment in this personality trait. In fact, it’s like Jesus said: you need to become like a child to enter the kingdom of God (Matt. 18:3). Some of us (ahem) are too sarcastic for our own good. It masks a fear to look forward to something too much, to hope and be let down. We have a history of painful experiences behind us. We don’t want to feel disappointment again or, even worse, fail. After all, we think smugly, we’d rather be right than happy. Which, now that I’ve written it, sounds rather pathetic.
But living in the negative scenario in your head doesn’t leave room for what could become a wonderful event. I’m not open to the great things – serendipitous things – that God can bring about. So I’ve decided to let this go. I want to focus on the good in situations and believe for the best. I’m discovering a new place to walk. Yes, wear the boots if it’s raining outside, yet also dress in layers, cause the sun could start shining again any minute now.