This goes out to all the optimists out there. This message is everybit for myself as it is for you...
You may have the gift of, positivity, and/or optimism if you have experienced one or more of the following symptoms…
- You surround yourself with fun people who love experiencing new things.
- At one point Nehemiah 8:10 was your life verse, “The Joy of the Lord is my strength.”
- You tend to get along with everyone you meet!
- Your enthusiasm is contagious.
- You have an uncanny ability to understand the “why” behind people’s actions.
- People come to you when life’s got them down.
- The only thing that makes you a pessimist is when people refuse to cheer up.
- Your #1 go-to phrase is, “Oh well, it could be worse…”
- People are always laughing when they’re around you.
- You find joy in the little things…
Being optimistic is more often than not, a huge blessing. Almost nothing can knock you down. However, there can be times where optimism takes over and becomes a burden. Over-positivity is a very real thing.
Let’s compare you, the optimist, to Joy from Inside Out. First of all, FANTASTIC movie, am I right!?
Ok...so just to recap, Joy is a very, um….joyful, emotion. She loves to love others, she is deeply caring and everyone loves her (sound like anyone you know???). However, Joy’s love of happiness obsesses her. She has fallen into a pattern that all positive people are prone: an avoidance of pain.
Joy has connected tears and pain with negativity. But are these things really bad? Now hear me out, optimist. Let’s remember who saves the day at the end of the movie. Sadness steps in and is able to better empathize and comfort Riley. Now don’t get me wrong, just because you avoid your own pain, does not mean that you are unable to meet people where they are at and walk through it with them. But when you step into your own pain you gain a deeper understanding for others’ stories, just like Joy.
When I first watched this movie, I was actually frustrated that Sadness was the one to save Riley. Poor Joy meant well, but just did not know why people would not cheer up. So she tried to take control.
Over-optimism is very controlling. Over-optimism is what makes you swallow in your tears, it is the whisper in your ear that “You have to be strong.” It is what shuts you down when you should be surrounding yourself with community. It is the belief within you that the glass should NEVER, ever, be half empty. You believe, just like Joy, that if one day you wake up and feel that the glass is half empty, then you will never be able to escape pain.
Pain is not weakness.
Pain is where the growth is.
It takes a brave person to step into pain in order to grow. It is uniquely difficult for you as an optimistic, but it is not impossible.
This is my encouragement to you...let yourself feel. Explore the emotions that you forget are there. Give yourself space to listen to yourself in the same way you listen to others. It’s ok to be sad, to feel disappointed, to hurt. Full absence of pain is the absence of self-honesty—it’s denial. Tell yourself the truth, then tell someone who loves you.
When we let ourselves feel, we can also begin the journey on the path to wholeness. Once we acknowledge the hurt, we grant God permission to heal us and we can finally move forward. Allow the Spirit to overflow you with healing for, “where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom” (2 Corinthians 3:17).
Don’t you want freedom?! It is so good, guys. It is so worth all of the crap we need to walk through in order to get there because there is nothing like resting in the arms of Jesus. And the beautiful, life-changing, breath-taking, ironic thing about Jesus is that in the end, He will make you stronger through your pain. Heck, you’ll even be stronger in positivity—because it truly is strength—and you’ll find your optimism rooted, not in a superficial fear of pain, but in the depth and the beauty of a God breathed hope.
You are not weak. You are not crazy. You are loved.