I am not in any way, shape or form an optimist by nature. At best I am pragmatic and can adjust, adapt and overcome, but I hate to admit I am not generally one of those “carpe diem” (seize the day) types. If one is shaped by early life experience, i.e. having the hell beat out of you just about every day, then, at least in my experience, you tend toward a wee bit of trepidation in simply facing the day.
I know that Christian faith is necessarily optimistic, which is one of the reasons I really struggle with faith. I admit that there have been many times in my life when the only thing keeping me from the option of self-annihilation has been the Catholic teaching about mortal sin. I was raised old-school Catholic, even though I can’t in conscience call myself Catholic. My particular way of understanding Christianity is best described as confessional Lutheran, which is fairly close. I don’t want to end up spending eternity being tortured forever and ever being chewed up in Beezelbub’s flaming maw because I died with a mortal sin on my soul. According to Catholic tradition, suicide is a mortal sin because if you kill yourself you don’t have the opportunity to confess your sin and be forgiven for it, so you burn in hell. As miserable and painful as life can be at times- and my life has had plenty of misery and pain- I still believe that no matter how bad it gets (even though Obama was “re-elected” by sole virtue of voter fraud and I’m still pissed about that) automatic and eternal consignment to the fires of hell is definitely a downgrade.
I need to believe that there will be a day when things are made right- not just in this country, not just on a few small levels, but made completely right. Yeah, perhaps in this, color me optimistic, or perhaps just a perfectionist. I want to be around to see it. No, I can’t explain faith in rational terms, other than to accept Pascal’s Wager. I would rather live with the knowledge that God IS, than to pretend He is not, and have to face the consequences of conscience-less living at some point. I know my agnostic friends have trouble with the notion that God is in charge. I’m weaker than that. I have to acknowledge that God is in charge, which is (paradoxically) liberating. I have problems when I start thinking I’m in charge.
Even knowing that God is in charge doesn’t guarantee me a sunny outlook. It’s a challenge for me to wake up in the morning and see life as a gift. Sometimes I do view life that way, but more often than not I see it as a burden or even a sick joke. Sometimes sarcasm is the only way I can get through the day, and that’s not a very good thing either. I wish I could take the Lord’s advice in Matthew 6:25 and not worry about stuff- but I do. Worse than that I let stupidity and ineptitude piss me off which (while pointing those things out can be funny) doesn’t do much for my mental state either. Anger and worry are not a very good combo.
There may be some hope for me yet: