Optimism is for Losers

Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice. –Philippians 4:4

I’m a pessimist. I see that glass half empty. I live in a state of disquiet.

My favorite songs on the radio are melancholy; artfully wailing that life hurts. How love has walked out the door, how things didn’t end the way they were meant to, how life callously annihilated the hope that had been barely hanging on by a single thread. I love them as their melodies harmonize with the melody of my soul.

If I stop to think about the reason for my pessimism, I guess it would be because I have decided that this is the smart way to see life. That anything other than pessimism is pure foolishness.

I have my reasons for this perspective. Whilst in the stage of childhood bliss, before any nasty experiences from the real world infiltrated my life, I saw life grandly. My cup was always half full of delightful life. I had no reason to be cautious of hurt as I didn’t realize life can call for a thick skin. Thick skin I didn’t have, and still don’t have to this day. Possibly, this stage was comparable to living in the Garden of Eden before Sin’s sweetness hit the tongue of our great-great-great-ancestors.

My cup of life that is now seen as half empty, had been viewed by my childhood self as half full. Which is perhaps why my wounds now are so great. I have tasted of life’s idyllic nature. It is burned into my memory.

I concede that labeling myself a pessimist will perhaps not earn me many new friends. This label is somewhat unpopular. Yet, I cannot deny who I am. Or I should say, who I am at this stage in life.

One never knows how life will change us and how we will be impassioned to improve ourselves.

I adapted to my pessimistic view of life after I started going to public high school. Until then I had been homeschooled. Which I had loved. But, due to a dream of going to college on an athletic scholarship, I enrolled in public school to more seriously compete in my sport. And in the process I started the journey of living in the world full-time instead of just part-time. This new chapter of life soon clearly demonstrated that life was messy.

And my innocent view of life gently faded a little bit into a light shade of jade.

The revelation of messiness continued on in my first couple years of college. My goodness, were those years difficult. My athletic career limped to a premature end due to injury. A semi-serious romantic tango jolted to a halt after two years of investment, kick-starting a string of successive failed attempts at love. My grades slumped due to depression and anxiety. My cries to God were drowned by my pain in my pursuit of the question, “Why?” To this day I am still sorting out lessons. But then something worse happened. I shut off my heart.

How does one even do such a thing? Well, Diamonds, it can be done. And I did it in a desperate attempt to guard myself until the ceremony of college graduation when I could blow that joint indefinitely if I so desired. I threw optimism into the hungry fire burning on the altar of discouragement, because numbness seemed infinitely greater than what I was currently feeling. However, the problem with signing yourself up to numbness is that the therapy regiment that puts feeling back into the soul is extremely daunting and difficult. But Diamonds, again, it can be done.

What is the point of the last five hundred and fifty words? My point is, this recovering worshiper of all things melancholy keeps hearing a little whisper in her mind. A whisper so foreign from my normal thoughts.

. …Rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS, again I say, REJOICE… Rejoice Katie, Rejoice in the good of your life… Rejoice because you have all needs met…Rejoice because you are loved by Love… Rejoice simply because you are called to rejoice…Rejoice in Me, beloved…

I may not naturally rejoice. No, my focus of life ordinarily leans toward the perspective of life’s brokenness from what God intended for His loved ones. I ultimately sacrificed optimism because it felt like my pre-pessimism perspective betrayed me somehow. I may now think I’m being smart and protective by focusing on the ache I see so flawlessly clear around me. But my God is calling me out. He is gently commanding me to embrace joy.

A friend of mine this week gifted me with a listening ear while I related about a relational burden in my life. And at the end of my sad, self-pitying string of words, he said,

“See the good, Katie. You don’t have to be unrealistic to do so.”

And so begins another pursuit. The pursuit to rejoice. Daily. Intentionally. Purely. Because it isn’t unrealistic to see that the cup is half full. The reality is that it IS half full. Sometimes you simply have to be brave, and choose to see it that way.

Choose Joy.

Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon. Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

Philippians 4:4-8

Glass Half Full


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