Replacing Optimism with Faith—#27 of the 30 day challenge to blog

I remember about two or three years after college, I stumbled back into my college town to say hi to a few folks. There was a couple people I knew there still so I thought I’d walk around campus and say hello. One old college acquaintance asked me to go to grab a slice of pizza. Even though this guy and I weren’t real close friends, I thought he was a nice dude, and I rarely turn down pizza unless I’ve had it for the last seven meals…which has happened.

This guy and I were sitting there and catching up. I can’t really remember the context of the conversation, but I can safely assume that I was sharing some of my depression shit with this “friend”…and he stopped me mid conversation and said, “You know David, Christians shouldn’t get sad.”

It took me everything I had to not throw this guy out the window. He’s not the only idiot out there, i’ve heard very famous pastors say something similar from their pulpits. I’d hate for them to have to read their bible one day, because then they might have to say the word “oops”…and come and apologize to the rest of us who know that life isn’t a bunch of cotton candy or a 24/7 Disneyland experience. And what type of theological explaining away do they do with the simple yet dramatically profound verse that says “Jesus wept.”

Before I start ranting and raving about how much bullshit this is, and start pounding my fists about God’s love, can I explain a theory about how guys like this and even pastors get to this place where they interpret life and even the scriptures to the point where they could say something as atrocious as this….Here’s the answer: Pride. I think there is spiritual pride which I talk often about with the religious ragamuffins vs. the poor in spirit ragamuffins…but in this case I’m talking about emotional pride. “What’s wrong with so and so …they get sad a lot…don’t they know Jesus…why aren’t they living in the freedom, and joy, and peace, and new life God has given them”…Let me tell you why dip shit…because I’m human. Because my life is a tad different from yours. Because I’m not perfect. Because the transformational experience of being “seized by the power of God’s affection” didn’t turn me into an angel and into a goodie-two-shoes but just opened my heart to the reality that God’s love isn’t a fairy tale, that such a thing as unconditional love is out there and his name is Jesus. Because I take my eyes off the cross and onto myself, because faith didn’t erase the puddle of disbelief, but has simply given me the courage and the strength to hop over it. Simply put, because I’m not God… that’s why I can still get sad, and do you know what I see in the scriptures…God get’s sad too, and heart broken for we are made in his image, and so I conclude while yes He is Absolutely Other, it doesn’t appear he is an Appliance, void of feeling or passion, but quite the opposite…because he’s not human his feeling and passion goes infinitely deeper than ours…I have no proof of this, but this is mere speculation, but those who do and will reject God’s loving grace and salvation…out of God’s incredibly wild love…I imagine him weeping into eternity for his lost sheep, children, prodigal and self-righteous sons & daughters that ultimately have chosen their wills instead of his…the God I’ve come to know will have a broken heart, a heart not fully mended for eternity…that’s why I tend to not get too wrapped up in heavy theological stuff like Calvinism vs. Arminianism…not that I don’t have a preference or speculation, and haven’t dabbled in both from time to time…but again…I think they are trying to explain an unexplainable God..but hey whatever helps you sleep at night I guess…but I like putting my trust in a God I can’t grasp or explain away with theology…or as my one friend Sam Howard put it…”i have a hard time putting my trust in a God I understand”….

I think this…I do believe in a heaven and in a hell…and I do believe Jesus is the only way…and how he accomplished his fathers will and saving all of us ragamuffins was through the cross…and whether you believe in he chooses you or you choose him…whether you believe if you don’t pray the sinners prayer before you die you go to hell…or you believe in second chances…I’m convinced of this…God knows you…and what you really want…he knows your heart of hearts…and he knows the unspoken and spoken crevices of your words intimately…so he knows and will know for all eternity what you really want…and those that will make hell their home….are the ones that want to be there, for they are the ones that want their will above God’s…or a more human way to put it…they can have God…or have themselves…and they choose themselves. So however it happens…At this point someone will usually go, how can a loving and living God allow someone to go to hell…well, have you ever loved a family member that no matter how much you loved them, and forgave them, and gave them a million second chances just continued to shit on you and hurt you and choose their selfishness versus loving you….do you remember what it was like to love someone and they just don’t love you back…people ask that question are forgetting something that we see in every day life and that’s this…”you can’t force someone to love you”…it has to be on their own…so I don’t think that sentence is so much accurate or even found in scripture in it’s exact rhetoric of “God sending you to hell” as much as it is you walking their yourself, because you would rather have you than God…you just don’t love him, and you can’t force to love something you just don’t love….and yet there’s something beautiful that happens to the heart when it trusts that it is loved…love begets love…and I think we all were made to be loved by the loving and living God so if we are brave enough to sit at the fire of his feet and feel the warmth of his love…a believe it’s in that place that faith is born…a faith that believes that God has genuine affection for him or her…

I’m just throwing this out there, positive and optimistic people annoy me. They bother me greatly. And yet I do believe there is something to having the wisdom to focus on things that are positive versus negative. And there is something that rings true and feels healthy to the idea of having a “Glass is half full type of mentality”…and yet why when I meet someone who has blind optimism why do I just feel like I want to punch them in the face? I’m not really a positive and optimistic person…I tend to bounce between being a realist or at worst a skeptic…but to me it seems that to clothe yourselves with a night and day type of optimism requires a bit of ignorance to the pains and sorrows of life…and without even knowing can actually make you un-loving, and bar you from simply having empathy for the folks in your life that are thirsty for it.

But again, there is a wisdom and beauty laced into optimism that makes it attractive. I think if you strip optimism of the best that it has to offer, and kill what irritates not only me…but all of mankind (beside other optimistic people)…than what you will have left is : faith.

It takes faith to see the best in a situation, and to trust that God is good whether the sun is out, or rain is falling. It takes faith to extract the joy in a bad situation. It even requires loads of faith to get out of bed the day after you had a loved one die. To me optimism is the immature version of what is found in faith. Faith allows you to be hopeful without being hurtful by a lack of humanness and empathy for your fellow man.

Well, as Forrest Gump once said, “That’s all I have to say about that.”

David Leo Schultz

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~ by David Leo Schultz on November 1, 2015.

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