Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Surprised by Optimism

Because of Jesus, we can have joy in this dark world

Thank you for looking at my blog! In today’s busy world, I appreciate you taking a few minutes from your schedule to hear what I have to say. In this first post, I’d like to give my reason for starting this blog, but first, let me tell you a little about myself.
My name is John. I’m twenty years old, and I’m finishing my last year of my BSBA in entrepreneurship. I’m also interning with a local company in its marketing department. My family is a wonderful mix of two loving parents, one biologically related twin sister, one older sister adopted domestically, nine younger siblings adopted from Russia, and two dogs! (As you can tell, a family like this makes for a lot of adventures! You’ll get to see some examples on my blog of what life in a family that crazy and fun is like.)
My reason for starting this blog is that I know the crippling power of cynicism, and I want to help others avoid it. Now, it’s not that I always walk around with a scowl on my face, as the song “He’s a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” plays ominously in the background. Instead, as Paul Miller explains in his book A Praying Life, my cynicism begins with my false assurance that “anything is possible”. However, optimism rooted in the goodness of people collapses when it confronts the darker side of life, such as disappointed expectations or downright evil in people (including myself). From the signs I see in our culture, I think that this type of cynicism is becoming a widespread problem.
However, there is a way out of this quiet cynicism. Rather than withdrawing into this negative spirit, we need an optimism that is founded on something more dependable than the goodness of people. We all know deep down that people, including ourselves, aren’t good. Nevertheless, the famous words of Psalm 23 hold the key: God is willing to be our Good Shepherd who won’t disappoint. Jesus proved this willingness when he came to earth to pay the penalty of our corrupted goodness by dying on the cross. Now we have the opportunity to have hope, and even the kind of fun that lasts! There is so much hope and joy to be found in God, and I’d love if you would join me in this journey of learning to be optimistic through Him!
(A final note about my blog title: One of my heroes, C.S. Lewis, titled his autobiography Surprised by Joy. I’m just beginning to learn to put my hope in God instead of myself and the goodness of people. So I’m realizing that even when I can’t feel joyful I can choose an optimistic mindset based on God’s goodness and promises. Thus the name of my blog, “Surprised by Optimism”.)

- John


  1. Welcome to the blogosphere John! Looking forward to reading your thoughts and insights :-)

  2. Thanks so much, Mac! I appreciate a thoughtful reader like you. You really embody "understanding the times".

  3. Outstanding, John! I'm so grateful to God for a son that is beyond my greatest dreams! I love you!


  4. It is interesting to read this from a young person. For, you see, as an "old person" I, too, struggle with cynicism. It is only when I take my focus off people, and instead, focus on the goodness, sovereignty, providence, eternal purpose of God...then is when I am able to return to joy.

  5. That which you said that surprised me the most was: "my cynicism begins with my false assurance that “anything is possible”. However, optimism rooted in the goodness of people ...." I never thought of cynicism rooted in the goodness of people or to include an "anything is possible" attitude. So also when I think of "optimism" I would have defined as "anything is possible" and "people are good." So you make me think John. Thanks.

  6. You're completely right, "WhiteStone"! It's so encouraging to hear from people like you who are further down the road God's taking you on and closer to Heaven! We rely on your wisdom and experience.

  7. Scott, thanks for your comment. Glad to give you some food for thought.

    These are thoughts that are very close to my heart, so I may not have quite articulated them in a way others can easily understand. When I talked about cynicism in that way, I meant that it begins with a "Disneyland" type of happiness that doesn't have God in the picture. It focuses on "I can do anything," not "Anything is possible with God." It has the selfish attitude of "Other people are here to fulfill my wants and needs, and I expect them to do that." This may sound extreme when I write it out, but in reality, sin is just people's unique spin on these ideas. After all, who can say they've never been proud or selfish?

    Godly optimism is rooted in the thoughts, "GOD can do anything, despite my circumstances!!!!" and "People may be imperfect and sin against me, but I find my joy in Jesus, so I'm free and empowered to love people." I hope that helps.