I am intentionally an optimistic person. This is a choice I make each and every day of my life. Often many times each day. I was not born an optimist.
I have met truly – delightfully optimistic people and they absolutely – positively dazzle me. Optimists are joy bearers and rays of sunshine in an often dark – difficult world. Seriously – I stand in awe of these amazing folks and the joy they bring into the world. True optimists are rare. True optimists are a blessing to know and simply to be around.
I am not one of these folks. (Although I really – really wish I were . . .) I must work at being optimistic and positive. Honestly – frankly – bluntly finding the good in things and being optimistic doesn’t always come naturally or easily to me. It took me years and years to get to where I am today.
I was not raised to be optimistic or to look for the good. I was raised in a sea of negativity. I was taught to look for the bad and the disappointing and the error and the shortcoming and the flaw (whether it was there or not).
I didn’t want to be like this. I didn’t want to be focused on the negative. I didn’t want to be mean and miserable and miserly.
So I taught myself to look for the good. I learned to seek rainbows and silver linings and the light at the end of the tunnel. I look for beauty in the mundane and the lovely in weeds. I try to find the good in the difficult.
This God seeking business of mine is very intentional. It is a learned behavior. I choose this.
One of my favorite verses in the Bible is from the Old Testament story of Joseph and his brothers. Joseph had a wretched – broken – hideous relationship with his brothers. This relationship was so awful Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery. And yet years later when they are reunited – Joseph is able to declare – “Even though you intended to do harm to me, God intended it for good.” (Genesis 50:20)
Joseph sees God at work in what was one of the very the darkest moments of his life. God didn’t want Joseph’s brothers to sell him into slavery – but once they did – well – God used it for something great and good.
Wow – just WOW. . . Joseph is a hero of optimism (in my mind.)
Joseph can see that God worked in and through a great big – wretched – rotten human mess and when God was at work in the world – good came out of it.
Did God want Joseph to be sold into slavery? Of course not. But even after Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery – well – even then God could act in that horrible situation and good things could (and did) result from the situation.
I have been thinking about Genesis 50 quite a bit for the past few weeks. We humans certainly seem to be making a great – big – massive – horrifying mess of our world right now. When all else fails you can depend on humans to make a mess of things with our humanness. We are constantly tripping over our human humanness. (See I told you I wasn’t an optimist!)
As the news grows bleaker. And the pandemic sinks its cruel teeth into our nation and our beloved commonwealth even more deeply – I wonder and worry about the future.
I have sighed huge sighs.
And honestly – I have more than mumbled and grumbled at the television and at news stories that fill me with indignation.
I have worried and wondered and ranted to myself and to my beloved.
But I noticed that sighing big sighs and ranting at people who couldn’t hear me didn’t change anything. In fact – it just made me unhappy. These folks don’t care what I think AT ALL. I know this. I am not new to this planet. I am well aware that talking to the television won’t change anyone’s perspective. Because they can’t hear me?!?
But there are some things I can control (at least to some degree). I can control my attitude. I can control the way I approach life and the way I try to engage the world.
I can and will be a seeker of God and good. Even now. Even in the midst of this messed up – messy – sinful – broken world we live in – I will seek the good. Because I firmly believe God and good are here. I will look for beauty and rainbows and light.
It feels a bit like the world is turning up the yuck right now. So – I am turning up the sunshine seeking these days. I am looking for the good with extra intensity. I am going full-Pollyanna (well not really). But I am working extra hard to look for the good and the lovely and the beautiful.
There is plenty out there in the world that will outrage me or sadden me or infuriate or exhaust me. (I am pretty well informed. I read and have a favorite news source or 80! I still live on this planet with the rest of you.)
I am digging deep – really deep some moments. Especially on the days when I feel rotten and the pandemic is wretched and war rages and natural disasters cause so much suffering . . .
But the thing is – I am finding beauty and good and wonder and awe all around me. I am finding reminders of God’s presence in the midst of this messy mess we call life.
I am choosing to be a God and good seeker at least for today.
I know these are hard times. I know the stress is through the roof. I know pain and grief are abundant. I am neither naïve nor clueless. I am aware. But I choose to keep looking. I choose to dig a bit deeper. I choose to seek. And when I seek – I always find.
Sometimes it just takes a while . . .
As the news feels so oppressive and the pandemic continues to hold our world so stubbornly in its cruel grips I encourage to take time to seek the good and God. God is with us – even now.
Keep both your eyes and your hearts open. You are not in this alone!
You are all in my heart – thoughts – and prayers.
In Christ and with Love –