I love this chapter. It brings to mind an on going conversation my husband and I have been having about cynicism. My husband has been reading a book called Faith Without Illusions: Following Jesus as a Cynic-Saint. According to the book cynicism is the result of repeated disappointment. While I would never call myself a cynic, I am someone that used to always assume the worst. I struggled for years with sometimes debilitating anxiety over what could happen. I told myself that by worrying I was preparing myself for the possibility of the bad things that could happen in my life.
But you know what? My anxiety was so high that it kept me from fully living my life. Recently I read this quote from Michael J. Fox.
“If you get caught up in [thinking about] the worst case scenario and it doesn’t happen, then you’ve wasted your time. If you get caught up in the worst case scenario and it does happen, you’ve lived it twice.”
It really put into words how I was feeling about wanting to let go of my anxiety. It took me years to get past my anxiety, mostly through prayer and the practice of gratitude. However, I still feel its evil tendrils creeping into my mind from time to time. Then I realized, if the worst happens, I’ll deal with it then. I’m not talking about having life insurance or an emergency preparedness plan (though I probably should have one of those). I’m talking about long nights spend running through every possible outcome to a scenario. Creeping into my children’s rooms at night to make sure they are still breathing. Obsessively running the financial numbers and feeling overwhelmed with what would happen in the case of a job loss or major fiscal calamity. This also includes sinking feelings of doom about the state of our government and the world at large. Those things are not emergency preparation, they are pointless worry over things, that in many cases, we have no control over.
So I’m really striving to expect things to go well. As my husband I discussed the book he was reading, I explained it to him like this. If I assume things will go well and I’m wrong, I will be disappointed. But if I always assume the worst and see the world through a cloud of cynicism I will miss out on the good things in life as well; love, joy, peace. Not to mention the fact that my negative attitude may very well influence the outcome in some situations. So why not choose to embrace life and face difficulties as they come and no sooner? I have nothing to lose but a whole world to gain.
“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4:7 (NIV)