I was once standing in a prayer circle and the guy I was holding hands with said he could feel the cynicism from holding my hand coursing through him. He was being somewhat facetious, but I’m fully aware that I have been labeled cynical by others. I’ve also been called pragmatic, logical and pessimistic. I don’t mind pragmatic or logical, but these things still bring to mind a couple questions:
Where is the balance between logic and cynicism? Is it possible to be a hopeful cynic?
My natural inclination is to be a hopeless and over-emotional romantic. I get my feelings hurt and my self-esteem gets a daily kick in the face. I want to meet my own Mr. Darcy (or Miles) someday and I wouldn’t mind if it all happened like one of my favorite romantic comedies. I’d like a cottage in the mountains with a garden, a nice breeze through open windows, and a bike to ride into town. But experience has taught me that this is highly unlikely.
Somewhat jokingly, I have said that my mantra is to have low expectations for everything. If they’re met, then I'm not disappointed. And if they’re surpassed, then I'm pleasantly surprised. Is that cynical or logical? Pessimistic or realistic? I hope all my expectations are surpassed, but I’m fully aware they probably won’t be.
I know that true joy comes from the Lord and He will fulfill my needs. But what I’m talking about is not necessarily joy. I think it’s completely possible to be joyful in the here and now, while being logical about tomorrow. And I guess that’s what I’m trying to find the balance of: Being joyful now, while striving to steer away from cynicism about the future. Learning to actually be joyful right now, and not let cynicism about the future taint the present.
I absolutely believe that God has my best interests in mind and He will give me everything I need in this life to be joyful and do His work. But I believe we often get this confused with thinking God will give us everything we think we need, and thinking we need it because we really, really want it. And most of the time, these things aren’t bad things to want or feel like we need. I’m not talking about 72” flatscreen TVs or a new MacBook. I’m talking about marriage or children or a job you don’t hate. As someone in her mid-20s, I’m surrounded by people getting married and having children. So the common phrase I hear is that it will happen someday for me (and my other single friends). Says who? Show me where it says I am guaranteed a husband and children. It’s common to see women much older than I who are still waiting for a family (why this is true could be a whole other blog entry, but I’ll abstain).
And I’m not just talking about marriage, but smaller everyday things. When someone suggests something like going on a road trip, I’m fully aware it will never happen. People (including myself) rarely follow through with their ideas, no matter now enthusiastic they are in the beginning. So when someone comes up with a brilliant and fun idea, or they promise to do something, I file it away and never bank on it happening. I certainly hope it will happen, but aware that it probably never will.
So am I just being logical and realistic, or am I a cynic? Is this attitude perfectly fine and I just need to stop dwelling on it and let life happen? Or should I let my natural inclination run wild and start buying wedding magazines, move to the mountains and apply for a loan to buy a bookstore? Even as I type that sentence, I can’t help but feel I’d be setting myself up for disappointment.
In the end, I cannot know what the future holds for me. I can only strive to do God’s will for my life and learn to be the person He wants me to be. But does anyone out there have any thoughts to add? Do you think it’s possible to be too logical and miss out on the joys of life? Is cynicism a sin, or just a safe attitude to keep disappointment at bay?
You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.