Sunday, March 1, 2015

Somewhere in the Middle Lives a Realist

Ok, so here goes.

I have listened to many people over the years (as have you as well) who have their personal views on life, health, clean living, and success. My take after all of these years of listening seems to fall somewhere in the middle when it comes to how my worldview lines up against some of the very positive spins on things vs. the negative ones.

I would call myself a bit of a realist these days.

For the longest time, I have referred to myself as “the glass is half full” kind of person, but now I am again going to label myself more of a realist instead.

You see, there are those people that I have encountered who live in such negative and self-destructive ways that the negative consequences that they live with (to me at least) are really to be expected.

And, on the opposite side, I see that there are people that walk around in this constantly positive haze. A haze that refuses to acknowledge the negative, or at the very least, tries to sweep it under some sort of proverbial rug where they may know it’s there but at least they don’t have to look at it.

And, yet again, there are those that live somewhere in the middle. These people recognize the value of positive thinking, faith, prayer, self-sacrifice, and love. These people recognize that sometimes tough things happen to both good and bad people (yes there are, in fact, truly bad people). You cannot easily explain why these things happen, especially to the really wonderful good (from a human perspective at least) people.

So here I sit and I ponder all of the many things both positive and negative that swirl around me every day.

Here are a couple of examples that I know of that hopefully explain why I sometimes sit on the fence and call myself a realist:

1)      I am aware through my wife of a situation where a young mother (unwed, if that matters to you; it definitely matters to me), had a boyfriend that in a fit of anger violently shook this young woman’s baby and altered this little innocent boy’s future for ever (not to mention the lives of his extended family). Now, I am aware that there are both positives in this and negatives. The positives are that this tragic and preventable situation has drawn together this girl’s extended family as well as a new Facebook prayer community that is rallying around this boy and his heroic and selfless grandparents that have now taken over his care and guardianship. The negatives are that this young woman who seems to live in a deluded and foolish haze is standing by this boyfriend (not the baby’s father either) as if he is not the monstrous person that he has shown himself to be. Does he need Christ? Yes. Do we need to forgive him at some point? Yes. But, no matter what you choose to focus on at the moment, this is still a tragedy, so I remain a realist.
2)      I also, like many of you I’m sure, am aware of the recent murders of 21 Egyptian Christians by the Islamic extremists who call themselves (ISIS) (btw – I am still trying to come up with a really belittling and humiliating replacement for the acronym ISIS – I’ll post it on FB once I come up with it). Positives here, well just like the previous example, not so easy to think of but here goes: The worldwide followers of Christ are in large numbers now praying earnestly for the persecuted church. We are more glaringly aware of their plight and are even more aware of the threats to our own faith and practice here in the U.S. and we are thus better prepared to speak of and defend our own faith. The negatives, well I could really write a novel here but I’ll just mention a few things. These guys are the consummate cowards and bullies in our modern world. I mean really, if you are so great and your “religion” is the awesome thing you purport it to be, then why do you come on video wearing masks (the masks scream “COWARD!!!”). If these people were anything other than weak minded, bullying, backwater, cowards, murderers, and thugs, they would have the manhood to actually show their faces. I knew these types growing up and they never change. They are only strong when they hold a weapon and they are only strong when they are in their mob. Otherwise, they are just a bunch of girly-men. Do I have a shred of sadness for them? Yes, to maybe some of your surprise, I do. Please don’t misunderstand me though. They need Christ as much of the rest of us sinners and I believe that they truly do not understand what they have done and are doing. On this example, this is a whole lot of tragedy and it will not be resolved until judgment day (especially hard for the ISIS guys when they realize just how badly they have been deluded).

You may choose to view the above examples any way that you wish however, please don’t pigeon hole me and just slap the whole “negative Nelly” label on me.

I think that yes, sometimes we can have entirely too negative a focus if we’re not careful and this is sometimes blown way too far out of proportion by making the mistake of watching or listening to any of the myriad of the liberal news organizations in the world today. Let’s face it; they would not have the following that they have if they were not a bunch of ambulance chasing zombies.

However, there are many of us that behave like the proverbial ostrich and stick are heads in the sand (or possibly elsewhere… “did I say that?!”) and act like the world cannot affect us or our loved ones if we just ignore it. Let me tell you, you cannot expect to ignore the negative things in this world and have them somehow never impact you and those you love. That my friend is just foolish.

I am not advocating that we run around like some human “Chicken Little” and always be in a panic or always on the verge of a tearful breakdown. Instead, I am asking that you join me in being a realist. Keep your eyes open, both your human ones and your spiritual ones. Listen more and talk less. Pray as the scriptures say “without ceasing” and let your heart and hands be ready to show others the love of Christ.

I know that I can sometimes spend too much time worrying, focusing on the negative events of the day, or feeling judgmental towards those around me that simply are still spiritually blind and I know that you may experience this as well.

What I ask of you is this: Learn to recognize the difference between negativity and realism. Be ready to attack the former when it overwhelms your heart with prayer and then just start counting your blessings, live an attitude of gratitude, and serve others with enthusiasm. What you give away will come back overflowing in joy, peace, and contentment in whatever situation you are in at the time.


But, do not walk away from being realistic either, as I believe that to do otherwise is not an authentic way to live. The lost, the searching, and the skeptical people around you will not listen to the message you are trying to live and speak if you cannot explain how to follow Jesus both in the good times but also in the hard and tragic times that swirl around us every day.