“Only spend time with people who are positive.”

Maybe I’m just a freak, but I’m getting tired of people shoving positivity in my face like I’ll only succeed if I ignore everything bad about myself and other people and the whole world.

Then, my relatives come over for the holidays, and all I hear about is that Google is taking over the world and Apple is taking over the world and Obama is taking over the world and all Social Media is evil and awful and we should all be scared for our lives because someone is going to find all of our information one day and come to our house and kill us all. Really, anyone who truly pays attention to the news (which I really should be doing that more) is understandably depressed, I get that. But I’m tired of this emotional roller coaster. (Is anybody with me?)

I could go two ways with this post. I could respond to each party and start my own. But really, I’m sick of the silent but not-so-silent argument going on, so I’m just going to tell you what I think.

Chaos seems to be filling the entire world right now. Every single person I talk to has problems coming out of their ears. And it really doesn’t help that we know about every single school shooting and every single stupid decision our government makes and every single Third-World Country tyrant almost in real time. I can understand the response of ignorant optimism in the face of all this. And I can understand the Eeyore-esque response too. We all have to cope with it somehow.

BUT, are either of these responses well-thought-through careful decisions of how to react to heartbreaking news? Or have they come down to almost coded and automatic reflexes? It’s safe to say that almost every day something gives us a perfectly good reason to react. If it’s not found in our personal life, it’s found by merely reading our Twitter feed or scrolling through Facebook. Is there a better way to cope with the crap in the world?

Well first of all, duh, God. For some reason, it is hardest for me to sit down and read my Bible when I am closest to tears. But if I’m going to have a reflex, God should be IT.

Secondly, I really don’t think one response wins out over the other. I hear or read the word positivity, and usually the context is pretty shallow. Surrounding myself with “positive” people can’t be a band-aid; it won’t cover what is really there. On the other hand, over-reacting and freaking out, or forever expecting the abominable won’t fix a thing either. If you read my post about our reaction to pain, I would hope for a similar response.

In my opinion, optimism has its place. And for my personality, it holds a higher place than its opposite. I like to look for the good first. Honestly, I really believe that is what Positivity Champions stand for, and in that I would agree with them. However, I have a real problem with ignoring the negative at all costs. It’s here. It’s real. And it’s hard to help anyone who has been through a tragic experience with telling them the good about their situation. I learned this from an extremely insightful conversation with a customer at my store.

She was Mennonite and had her five-year-old son with her. She mentioned something about an accident her, her husband, and their five children were in. All of her children were killed in that accident and her and her husband lived. It’s hard to know what to say to someone who tells you such a story, but it blew me away how much she wasn’t overly affected by telling me this story, not in a calloused way, but in a down-to-earth, this is what happened, way. For some reason, as Christians, it seems natural to ask that kind of person if they see good that came out of their tragic experience, and so I did. Usually, people search for it, and have an answer ready, just like studying for a test. But this woman surprised me. She said, “It’s easy for me to try to look for the good that came out of that situation. And I can tell you about my two wonderful children who are born now. I can search for people who might have been saved because they heard our story, and maybe there were. But I can only control my response. I can only hope that God worked on my heart and that I am a better person now because of it.” When she said that, everything in me was screaming, “Yes! That is what we are missing!”

I’ve had experiences in my life that maybe are “harder” than most of my peers’ experiences. But I am not held to a “Positive” response; nor am I held to a “Negative” response. How I respond should be between me and God. And if it is, it is bound to be a heck of a lot more thought-out than a reflex.

I’ll end with a plea to the Christian community. Please acknowledge the raw pain that is in the world. Please give it your full attention and trust God with the remedy. Please understand that God is in control and persecution in this world (even America!) is not only to be expected, but also to be celebrated. If you are afraid that you’ll be labeled as a terrorist by the government (and that one wasn’t even in my store!), rejoice! (Just read the Beattitudes again, okay?) If you feel the urge to hide from the pain in the world by reading a certain Christian fiction author whose name I won’t mention, challenge yourself to help people in need. (Now read the entire book of James.) Please try not to overreact and please try not to hide.

And now to all of the people everywhere, whether Christian or not, positivity is not a band-aid. Nor is optimism. If you’re depressed, “self-love” will only hide your depression from you for a little while. If I’m being completely honest, these words are tempting, but however much I may want it to be true, I, alone, cannot control my emotional stability. Outside variables can weigh me down. This is why God is so amazing! You don’t have to love yourself, you just have to love God, and let Him love you. This sounds simple, and yeah, there’s a lot more to it, but coming from a person who will always choose to try to appear strong rather than vulnerable, standing weak before God can only ever produce good things. Trust me on that.

Over and out.

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