I was in a checkout line at a department store behind a woman who had a basket full of clothes and other items. After the clerk rang up the purchases, the woman presented a credit card. Denied! She pulled out a second and then a third card. Both denied. Then she asked the clerk to try the first card again. Was this woman being optimistic?
No, she was in denial of reality and didn’t want to accept it.
I wonder how many times a day this same scenario is repeated? Maybe you have even been there. Or perhaps the issue isn’t financial, but some other refusal to accept the truth that is right before your eyes.
For an addict, breaking denial is the first step towards recovery. This is not news – we all know this. But there are other perhaps more subtle ways in which we deceive ourselves.
- We keep applying for jobs we are not qualified for hoping someone will hire us anyway.
- We abuse our automobiles or our bodies and hope they will last forever.
- We stay in an abusive or violent relationship hoping that this will be the time his sincere apology will really mean a change. (Good luck with that one!)
- We ignore deadlines and trust that somehow there is a way around the penalties.
- We hide bills from our spouse and believe everything will turn out OK in the end.
I love optimism. It is a predictor of success in many areas of life. Optimists tend to draw people towards themselves that want to help them reach their goals. (People tend to shy away from perpetual pessimists.) But optimists do not operate outside of reality.
- Keep applying for jobs that they are qualified for knowing that one will come through eventually. Or they train for the job they really want.
- Maintain their health and possessions knowing that it will make a difference in the long run.
- Leave a bad relationship knowing that a better one is bound to come along.
- Embrace deadlines as a challenge to get things done and feel satisfied.
- Share the hard things with their spouse, like bills, and believe that together they will make necessary changes and work things out.
A true optimist sees life with a hopeful perspective. But they do not live with unrealistic expectations. Denial is not their friend, but an obstacle to avoid.
Being in denial of our own mortality is the easiest and most dangerous position of all. However, the reality of the hope we have in Christ Jesus gives us the ultimate reason to be optimistic. If you want to know more about this hope, check out the messages at cachurch.com.