In Praise of Being an Optimist

We Shake with Joy

We shake with joy, we shake with grief.

What a time they have, these two

housed as they are in the same body.

Mary Oliver

I’m learning a lot lately.

“Why?” you might be asking.

Well, a lot has been happening, and when a lot of occurrences occur, lots of new lessons are learned (…I think that’s a lesson all on it’s own).

The last two months of January and February felt like the last month of 2018. As February closed up only three days ago, it feels like the new year has officially begun.

As I mentioned in my last post (which you can read here), my grandfather passed away last month of liver cancer, and that made February especially difficult. January, the month leading up to it, was equally disturbing as we were given the news of Pops’s condition worsening day by day.

I also spent the months of January and February on social media.

Conclusion: when life is tough, do not, under any circumstances, go on social media.

Just don’t.

Social media made my life something of a self-pity party in which I ate a fair amount of self-pity biscuits on a daily basis. Social media made my life…

…miserable.

Then Grandpa passed away, and I just wanted to start crying, but I couldn’t. The tears never came. I would just sit there, numb, telling myself that it didn’t happen. I threw Instagram down the tubes and lay in my room just being sad…and I stayed there for about a week in my mind.

Confession: sometimes I like to be sad. I like to cry. It makes me feel like Jane Eyre or Lucy Snow (both of whom are from Brontë novels 😀 ), and I know a lot of people feel the same way I do. Sadness and worry and anxiety can become a place you just want to be all of the time. You might not actually realize that you desire it, but when it comes down to it, you do.

No one wants to say that, though. I didn’t.

So, I decided to write a sad, melancholic blog post to make myself feel philosophical, wise, and intellectual. Because everyone knows that most of the philosophers in school textbooks were depressed thinkers.

I even heard someone say that sad is “happy for deep people” on a Doctor Who episode once.

So I was feeling a lot like Sally Sparrow last month.

I believe sadness is a great tool, and it’s definitely a human emotion that is essential. It’s good to cry, and it’s good to be philosophical and to learn from sadness. Ask my parents—I’m the philosopher of the family.

But, this philosopher has also learned something quite extraordinary that’s just as deep as something sad. Something that made me scrap that “sad, melancholic blog post.”

Joy.

There really is something intoxicating about joy.

And by joy, I don’t mean happiness, because happiness ends. Happiness is a moment of increased heart rate, high levels of adrenaline, and bright eyes…which is exhilarating. But it goes away.

Joy is something much different.

Joy is the ever present feeling of assurance, love, and stability in Christ. I’ve learned that it’s possible to have joy even in the saddest of situations. Joy is assurance. Assurance of Christ’s love and salvation. Assurance of His victory. Assurance of our final destination. It’ll follow you into all emotions: sorrow and cheer.

Joy is the essence of what we live for, and the remembrance of what’s been done. It is the epitome of our belief in freedom and the strength in our hearts.

But I’ve also learned something spectacular: joy is a choice.

We can choose joy, and we can decline it. And, allow me to be honest with myself, I have not done very much accepting of it lately. He has extended it willingly, as is His custom. But I have been so absorbed in self-pity and understandably unfavorable circumstances that I have pushed away every offer.

Until I decided to stop being sad. I decided to stop being miserable and open the curtains of self-pity and flood my heart with the joy of Jesus.

Optimism is sorely underrated.

Making the choice to see the good in something is probably the hardest choice anyone can make. It is for me, especially being someone who has been prone to struggling with depression during her adolescent years.

But take it from me when I say that joy is the most addictive of human emotions. In my last post I discussed love, the most courageous of human emotions. Well, this one is joy: the most addictive of human emotions.

And it’s so much more than an emotion. It’s an assurance.

And it never runs dry. Jesus is always there, holding out his hand for me to accept His peace, even when I want to just wallow.

When I get made fun of for not always knowing the newest trend, I can take joy and find strength in who the Lord has made me to be. When I get overwhelmed with homework, I can take joy and see it as an opportunity to grow and learn (as my friend Kennedy put it 😉 ). When I just feel blue, I can choose to find my peace and strength in Jesus, and I can have joy.

I may not always have a smile on my face, and I may not always have a tune on my lips, but I will have joy in my heart, and that’s an unstoppable quality to have.

With joy,

Emily 😆

One thought on “In Praise of Being an Optimist

Add yours

  1. Emmy, my sweet philosopher, but lover of Jesus — this was a blessed post to began our Lent season! Yes. Let’s choose Joy…Jesus has saved us and that’s it! We are saved…beautifully written!

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