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Friday, January 8, 2016

On Cynicism

I don't want to be like the Israelites, testing the Lord and asking, "Is the Lord among us or not?" (Exodus 17:7), but it never ceases to amaze me how easy it is for this to become the default when hard times come.  The words, themselves... they sound sarcastic to me... and maybe a little desperate.  We see this pattern with the Israelites, over and over again.  When things are going well, it's all, "Yay God!", but when things fall apart, they wonder if God is really love... or even there... or real at all.  No.  I don't want to be like that.  But sometimes I am.  Or, at least, I have been.

There have been moments, in recent days, when I have honestly wondered if people sit around discussing what it would take to break me.  The irony in this is that the joke is on them, because I have been broken for a really long time, and it's OK.  If someone wants a challenge, they should probably try to figure out what it will take to fix me.  For over a decade, my mantra has been, "I am broken, and I do not need to be fixed".  The first time I ever shared these words, family and friends absolutely flipped out.  Eventually, they got used to it.  Stay with me here.  How can we possibly be poured out for the sake of others if we are not first broken?  People like your success stories.  They might even be inspired by them.  But it's the struggles that really unite us.  When we come alongside one another and say, "I understand.  I've been there, and it will be OK," we open up a world of possibilities.  Broken people heal each other.  And healing is so much different than fixing.  I won't lie, though.  It's a pretty good challenge, as well.

I've been struggling a little bit with some of the Psalms over the past week or so.  There is all of this imagery of light in the darkness.  It feels oxymoronic to me.  Once the light comes, shouldn't the darkness dissipate?  Can they really coexist?  Is the light just touched with darkness?  Or, perhaps, is it the other way around?

Psalm 112:4 struck me, today, "Even in darkness light dawns for the upright, for those who are gracious and compassionate" (NIV).  As someone who doesn't like the dark, anyway (I have been known to sleep with the lights on), I think I finally, desperately, want the light to do more than just dawn.  I think I want the light to flood, eradicating all the darkness.  And here we are, back to the rainbows and unicorns and glitter and flip flops, again.  It gives me just a shade of hope that there might be an optimist buried somewhere deep within this realist I have come to be, maybe hiding out with the extrovert.

Even so, I'll take the dawning of the light, today, because it has to start somewhere...


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