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Confessions of a Recovering Pessimist

"If you don’t like something, change it; if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.” ~ Mary Engelbreit I don’t think I was born pessimistic. To hear some of the circumstances of my earliest days, one could think I would be more on the sunny side of life, grateful every day to be alive. After all, I was born three months early, at one point weighed less than two pounds, and my parents were told I could be blind and have mental/developmental delays and issues.

Yet here I am, 40 years later. I graduated from high school with good grades, can see quite well with glasses, am thinking I could stand to lose a few pounds, and, well, I can’t change my birth date. But I’m cool with that, due in large part to my mom always doing her best to not mash it together with Christmas (which is three days before my birthday).

The dictionary defines a pessimist as one “. . . who habitually sees or anticipates the worst or is disposed to be gloomy.”

Oh, that is a word that could have easily described me for quite some time – particularly the ‘gloomy’ part. Not that I was a ‘not fun’ person to be around. But I could (and sometimes still can) be very hard on myself. I seldom thought I was valuable, liked, worthy, or that I really fit in. (Okay, maybe I wasn’t all that fun to be around . . .) I think part of the problem I had was I didn’t have a correct understanding of what it means to be humble. Thanks to some good teaching I’ve had over the years, I am realizing it actually means I don't think less of myself, but instead think of myself less.

And (I ask my husband to correct me if I’m wrong), I don’t think ‘pessimist’ is a label that sticks so well to me anymore. I’m learning to show more grace to others (and myself), to remember there is many a circumstance that is only temporary, and that a new day can bring new hope. And even when I do fail, when I do fall and muck things up, it’s not the end of the world. It does not make me a complete write-off. As one of God’s kids, there is no record kept by Him of my wrongs. So why should I go through all the hassle of keeping one?

There is a balance to be found – one doesn’t want to be all sunshine-and-roses to the point of being delusional, but nor does one have to look at a silver lining and only see the cloud behind it. Our lives contain both sunshine and storm clouds. Roses are beautiful, but they also have thorns.

But through it all, Jesus has promised He will be with me. And that gives me a genuine hope.

And it also leaves me looking a little more like the dude to the left: Optimist-Prime-Negatron

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