I'd describe this blog as a place for the purposeful ramblings of Ruth and others. You get to read my thoughts. Will you please share yours, too?

Monday, July 18, 2005

An Optimist's Fears

I am generally a glass-is-half-full kind of gal. I tend to believe that life will be OK and that everything will work out, one way or another. And you know what? It usually does. Somehow, it almost always turns out just fine. And...most of the time it turns out far better than I could have planned. I don't understand it and I won't try to explain it, other than to acknowledge that our savior's grace is beyond my comprehension.

My pastor said something in his sermon yesterday and it really resonated with me. "It didn't work out the way they envisioned it, but that doesn't mean it didn't turn out the way God intended."

This said two things to me.
1. Having a vision is a good thing. (Just don't get so tied to the plan that you fail to allow God to move in it and beyond it.)
2. God's intentions usually surpass what we see for ourselves.

Often, I don't come up with a plan or a vision for myself. I prefer to keep myself open to whatever life is going to toss my way. I am glad I have this ability because it keeps me flexible and it forces me to pay attention to what the Lord is in the midst of doing in and around me. This might be the very thing that enables me to be such an optimist. If I never have any set expectations, I can never truly be let down. Each new chapter is beyond what I was imagining because, really, I never imagined much at all! However, I have been thinking ahead lately. I've found myself wondering about what my future holds. I'm very satisfied in my current reality and I don't see my circumstances changing for at least a few years. But I am looking several years down the road beyond that, imagining, hoping, dreaming. What might be? I'm scared to shape some kind of vision, though, because I don't want to be disappointed if it doesn't pan out.

I have never been majorly let down when I've made a choice and gone ahead with something. My fear doesn't really come from doing something and failing--most things I try end up working out in some way, like I said earlier. Plus, if I do screw up, I'm happy to learn from a mistake. Something worthwhile is gained from trying and not succeeding. At least there was an experience had and a lesson learned.

What is really hard for me is hoping for something, only to have those hopes dashed. As a result, I'm afraid to have real confidence in my hopes. If I put too much stock in my dreams, especially if what I desire is totally beyond my control, I worry that those dreams will fail to materialize. Then I'll be left feeling defeated and foolish for having dreamt in the first place. That's not a fun place to be. When hopes get crushed, it seems as if nothing is really gained except disappointment. There is nothing to show for a lost dream, just a void left where the vision used to be.

But, as scary as it is, I must hope, especially for the things beyond my control, because (duh) I can't do anything to make those things happen. Christ commands that I have hope. He is our hope. I guess the shift in thinking I have to make is that when my hopes are let down (because inevitably they will be) I have to look beyond my personal disappointment and see the bigger picture of what God's ultimate intentions are. It might not work out the way she envisions it, but that doesn't mean it won't turn out the way God intends. I need to remind myself that just because my hope has fallen flat before, it doesn't guarantee that is going to happen every time. That's pretty much the definition of hope, isn't it?...seeing beyond the circumstances of the past, trusting that things can be different the next time around.

I guess I really am an optimist, even if sometimes I'm a slightly fearful one. Here's to hoping... I'll bet God has something in store for me that is beyond my wildest imaginations. I hope.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

good thinking. its not easy to think straight in the face of repeated adversity from life.

July 19, 2005 2:14 AM

Anonymous Lauran said...

you're resonating with me today... isn't it true that hope operates on so many levels? there's hope that envisions, hope that hurts, hope that springs from our soul in spite of the way the world looks on any given day. i guess if we're always afraid then we are never alive, never surprised, never given the chance to rise up in grace and strength that we didn't expect...

July 19, 2005 12:38 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ahhhhh Ruth...

i wanted so check out your blog and look at at least a couple pictures --

I haven't called you back yet - no excuses

If all things work together for our good - then even if we hope for something, and it doesn't turn out the way we want (commen example, hoping for a relationship to work out) good comes out of it, the results and journey were worthwhile, and there should be no reason for regretting the fact that one had hoped for something in the first place.


July 19, 2005 10:34 PM

Blogger Ruth said...

Mike! I was actually thinking about calling you the other day to check and see if you were still my friend, or even if you were still simply alive... (just kidding)

I'm so glad you shared your thoughts on this. Thanks for your comment, stranger. You're right that good can come out of the journey. Whether it's pursuing a job opportunity, a mission experience, a new place to live, whatever. Just the process of imagining the possibility is healthy, I suppose. Otherwise, maybe we become complacent if we don't wonder beyond our immediate circumstances.

Hey, guess what? I might be coming through Chicago in early October. Start letting the anticipation build...

July 19, 2005 10:50 PM

Blogger APN said...

I totally get what you're talking about here, especially the part about not wanting to put much stock in your own dreams because they tend to fail you. The problem that I run into with that is that I then lose hope because I start second-guessing myself. Too often, I forget that Jesus is the only person/thing/idea/dream in whom I should ever place my hope. Of course, when I do place my hope in Him, I'm able to cope with my inadequacies and the fact that my plans do often fail. But since He doesn't fail, I'm OK with me failing, since I'm the one who's fallible....

July 20, 2005 8:52 PM

Blogger So I Go said...

I read through this and so much of it resonated with me. I especially loved the last paragraph.

I'll bet He does too..

July 26, 2005 4:09 PM


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