This post is dangerous for me to write because I have slight, okay, rather large bent, towards pessimism. In just writing this, I feel like I need to now watch my back. If you don’t know what it feels like to be a pessimist let me fill you in quickly.
We always think something bad is around the next corner. Even in, (especially in!) the most beautiful seasons.
We take pain as part of life and expect it daily in all its various forms. Sometimes, we let our poor theology peek through and chalk it up to “God must be teaching us a lesson.”
We are afraid to get too excited, for the reasons listed above.
We keep our guard up towards pleasure and find it hard to totally let go and relax.
Our imagination wanders down dark paths filled with drama and sometimes death, usually of someone we love or ourselves.
Sounds fun, right?
Here’s a real-life scenario. The other night I was rocking Isaac to sleep, while thinking about an upcoming trip my husband and I are looking forward to taking without our children. I caught myself after a few minutes, realizing that every thought I’d been thinking was ugly. It would have made for a wonderful plot for a thriller or dramatic movie!
What I was envisioning and worrying about are too gruesome to share with anyone, but I can assure you it was not about the walks on the beach we would be enjoying, nor the long, uninterrupted conversation we’d be having, or the gorgeous sunsets we’d be watching.
It was my pessimism at its worst.
I was ignorantly entertaining fear, letting it come in and sit with me there in the room.
Thankfully, by the time I went to lay my son down, I had managed to work myself out of the heaviness and the emotions of all that I had imagined.
As I walked down the hallway I tried to laugh off the rest of it- I was being silly for thinking such things. Then a fatherly Voice caught me off guard, “What if you allowed yourself to imagine the best of what I have for you?”
Wait, what did you say?
“What if you allowed yourself to imagine the best of what I have for you, instead of always entertaining the worst?”
I slipped under the covers rolling the phrase around in my heart before I fell asleep. His words felt too dangerous, too selfish, too wonderful.
You see, in my world, to imagine the best feels criminal. Isn’t it disrespectful, especially when we live in a world where so many people are experiencing heartache and sickness?
To assume that God is good, even better than I imagine, and isn’t out to teach me something through pain or tragedy feels too immature, childish. Won’t I offend someone by seeing the best or speaking life in difficult situations?
If allowed my imagination to envision God’s kind presence, generous gifts, and abundant grace breaking through at all times, in all places, with all people… aren’t I dabbling in some prosperity gospel goop?
To speak of His lavish love or unhindered blessings like they are up for the taking at any time sounds like my theology might be a bit lop-sided. Surely, I think, I need to mix it up with a little of God’s wrath, a smidgen of His anger, or a touch of His harsh hand.
Friends, I’m here to tell you, it’s time to let go of that garbage.
I know those of you reading this may not struggle with extreme bouts of pessimism, but life’s craziness has given us all a warped sense of God’s heart for His children.
We forget, daily, that God came to deliver us from every form of fear- be it in our pessimistic personalities, our worrisome thoughts, or our negative outlooks.
All the wealth, the gifts, the Promise Land God is talking about throughout His word is not imagery for more material possessions, but an inner feast He has laid out for us to enjoy.
Our soul becomes rich as we let our imaginations wander into the wonder of His heart and find out what He’s really like.
And if He starts to blow your mind (and your fears) up, like He is doing for me, then you know you are on the right path!
I end with the same question God asked me, “What if you allowed yourself to imagine the best of what I have for you, instead of always entertaining the worst?”
Here in, dear reader, lies the real Gospel, the Good News, the story we’ve always wanted to hear and hoped would be true.