Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Optimism...Good for your Soul

As I sit here and reflect back n the events of this week, I am absolutely overwhelmed by the incredible ways that God has been present in just about everything that has happened.  From Youth Sunday to the Easter Vigil and everything in between…God presence was truly felt.

But if I had to say this at this same time exactly one week ago…It might have been a different story.

This past Sunday, one of our own youth, Baty, gave the sermon during Youth Sunday.  The second Sunday in Easter, the Gospel reading is usually the story of Doubting Thomas.  “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe…” exclaims Thomas in the Gospel of John.

“Blessed are those that have not seen yet still have believed…” was how Baty began his sermon, which really made me think.

He continued on reflecting on the common everyday saying of, “I’ll believe it when I see it.”  But to him, that is a very pessimistic outlook. 

He used this cliché saying to faith.  Faith does not provide the luxury of certainty.  There is no proof…there are no nail holes.

Faith requires us to be optimistic.  We have look past the bad and the doubt and find belief within the uncertainty.

But sometimes, the bad can sometimes start to weigh on us… I experienced this just a week ago.

On Tuesday morning, I woke up and got ready for week just like any other day.  Took care of my dog, grabbed my stuff, and walked down the driveway to Fred (Fred is my car…yes I named my car). 

As I got closer to Fred, I noticed that there seemed to more a lot of stuff just thrown all over the seats.  At first I thought, “Wow, I really need to clean out my car!  It is even messier than I though.”

Which is generally true…my car is a mess most of the time.  However as I opened the door, I noticed that it was more than the usual mess…my glove box was hanging open, the center console was emptied, and everything that was once inside of them was strewn about the inside of my car.

It is not the first time I have had a car broken into, but that still doesn’t lessen that initial feeling you have when you realize that someone has invaded your property and gone through your belongings without regard for anything.   Luckily nothing major was missing, my cd’s, a bowling ball, all the change in the car…but still not the way I wanted to start my day.

I tried not to think about it during the day and go about my normal work.  I wanted to clear my head, so I went home about 30 minutes early and went for a bike ride.  Getting outside on a day when the weather is great always cheers me up.  Exercise helps relax me and clears my head.  It was turning out to be a pretty good day…until….

I took a trial I was unfamiliar with and thought connected to the road but instead dumped me out in the middle of a field….about a half mile from the road I needed to be on…

There was a muddy dirt trail I could take, but road bikes don’t handle muddy trials very well.  So I decided to walk it.

If you ever walked around wearing clipless bike shoes, then you know what I am talking about.  If you haven’t…imagine that bottom of your shoe is just a solid piece of wood…and right near the middle of your foot is a 1/2 inch chunk of metal that sticks straight down.

So there I am, trudging across this muddy field, carrying my bike, and I have time to think and reflect on the day…

I woke up and started my day with my car being broken into…bummer

And now I am walking uncomfortable through a corn field carrying a bike…bummer

What else could go wrong?

Right as I think this…POP!

The strap on my right shoe just snaps….the only thing that was holding the top part of the shoe down and keeping my foot in the shoe was no flapping in the air as I tried to take one more step…but failing…

I then stood there wearing one shoe, carrying my bike…with my broken shoe behind me in the mud, one sock slowly absorbing the moisture out of the mud that I was standing in, still a ways away from the road I needed to be on, thinking back to the events of that morning…

There was only one thing left to do…

I laughed.

This wasn’t a laugh to keep from crying kind of moment; I truly thought this moment was hilarious.

Even with all of that happening that day, looking back, I would still say I had a good day.

The more I thought about how and why I felt this way, I came back to a lesson I learned a long time ago.

There is always one thing you control in every situation…and that is how you respond to that situation. 

Things are going to happen…

Bad things, good things… you will fail a test one day, you won’t get that job you really wanted, the really cute guy will like someone else…

Everything will not always go your way… and you know what…that is ok.

If there is one thing you can learn from Thomas here it is that we ALL doubt!  We all have questions…we all want proof…we want to see the nail holes!

We think that is what it takes to keep our faith strong!  To see proof!

What if I argued the opposite…it is the doubt, the fear, the struggle that helps keep our faith strongest…

That those who never question their faith do not appreciate it as much as the one fights and struggles and works at it…

Success is counted sweetest
By those who ne’er succeed.
To comprehend a nectar.
Requires sorest need.

Not one of all the purple Host
Who took the Flag today
Can tell the definition
So clear of victory

As he defeated – dying –
On whose forbidden ear
The distant strains of triumph
Burst agonized and clear!
-Emily Dickinson

So what do we do during these times of doubt, loss, failure, questioning, confusion…

That is when we have to exactly what Baty said…be an optimist.  Find the good and respond positively even when doubt and darkness try to shut out the light.

Only thing you can always control is how you respond.

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