I know I’m not the most positive person in the world. I’ve been worrying about this more than is strictly necessary recently. I’ve been listening to myself as I talk, worrying that all my reflections on my day are full of despair and frustration rather than the joys of life. I then think I have to hide away my despair and frustration, that I have to put a positive spin on my day, that I have to cheerily count my blessings whilst hiding away any pain of this weird world in a box deep inside me. I know I need help to remember that when things are bleak, hope is a reality but there is a better way to do that than putting a smiley face on and forgetting about the hard stuff. (ah the joys of an all or nothing outlook on life).
Real hope isn’t found in suddenly developing a positive personality. Real hope isn’t found in thinking 3 positive thoughts a day. Real hope doesn’t call us to ignore the problems and pretend it’s all fine when we are faced with a new situation that is tough and hasn’t solved the problems of the old situation. Real hope is a strange beast. Real hope calls us not to ignore the pain we feel or the struggles of this world. Real hope calls us to look at the darkness deeper. It calls us to feel the pains of this world, to feel that there could be no light again. To know that there is no perfect situation, nothing that is not vulnerable to being ripped up in front of our faces and to know that there is a reality even deeper than that darkness and pain.
Cynicism forces us to stop staring into the deep darkness, cynicism forces us to despair before we have truly felt the pain. Cynicism self protects and cynicism dulls our hearts. Hope leads us to gaze and gaze at the dark and then brings us through the dark to the One who knows this darkness and who has taken on the darkness. Hope leads us to the one who cannot be crushed by the darkness. Whose light carries on shining stubbornly and strongly. When all around has fallen and is stripped away there is still the reality of the Father, Son and Spirit carrying on their redemptive crazy dance in this stinking messed up world.
I struggle with depression, I struggle with thoughts that want to destroy me in a pit of despair. I struggle to see that situations could change, I struggle when they do and the same problems cling to me. I feel embarrassed that I still struggle even when jobs have changed and circumstances have changed. I wish I was different. I worry that people look at my life and hear my thoughts and write me off as a ‘negative’ person, someone who just doesn’t know when to be happy with life. I struggle with me. I will probably always struggle in some ways with these things but trying to hide away from these thoughts isn’t going to help. Heading to the world beyond these thoughts just might. There is deeper truth than these despairing thoughts.
Deep down at the bottom of the mire of my darkest despair is a love that will not let go. This is no sticking plaster answer. This is reality that we must fight to find. Deep down through the shattered shards of the hopes and dreams of our lives is a hand that holds us in the fear and pain and enables us to stand on mountain heights again. Only by facing the dark, ploughing through dark can we find the one who has conquered the dark. Only by gazing through the dark can we find the one who leads us from our self absorption to the freeing joy of love.
The weird truth is that positive people are sinners too. Those of us from the negative side of the fence of personalities in this life need to deeply believe that God isn’t about transforming us from being a negative person to being a positive person. He is all about transforming us all from being a self absorbed person to a person of love.