I have a friend who considers himself to be a “cynical optimist”. I’m not exactly sure if that really is a thing, or just another fancy contradiction we’ve come up with to describe our complex personalities (like girly man or stupid funny)? The truth is, my friend is getting older in age so I think he’s just becoming more of a krumugin over time. (it’s a real word… look it up)
Can you be a hopeful pessimist? Or how about a quiet loudmouth? Even better, a carefree perfectionist?!
I think the reason we’ve tried to identify these characteristics in our lives is because we know that we are never, always, just ONE thing. We do this to try to RELIEVE THE TENSION in us and in others. If we can find a category for it and label them properly – it’s easier for us to understand, manage, deal with, and make the people in our lives more approachable.
However, none of us want to be characterized by just one of these attributes. My wife calls me a Fatal Optimist. She’s convinced that I’ll see the positive in all things until it kills me. It’s true…but that isn’t possible (even for me) all the time. I can get negative easily. I can move to a place of being critical when circumstance are just right.
I love taking couples that are getting married through a personality profile assessment. It’s fun to talk about the difference in the individuals that are going to FUEL their marriage, and the difference that will be a CHALLENGE for them if they don’t understand how their partner is wired and why they are wired that way. There is never just a D only personality (Demanding). Or just a C personality (perfectionist). People are always a mixture of different attributes with usually one or 2 that are the largest.
How about you? Are you satisfied when someone labels you one way but you know there is MORE to you than just that one predominant trait? I can be a people person who also enjoys quiet time (a small amount of it). I can be a perfectionist in some areas of my life, and care free in others. That’s okay.
If this is TRUE OF US, how much more TRUE is this of the attributes and character of God.
One of the many tensions that lie at the intersection of life and faith is the notion that God is just ONE thing. One ideal, one characteristic and it’s usually the ONE we need or want the most in our lives. Sometimes when we don’t understand God or He has disappointed us, we label him with a characteristic we’re not that found of – that makes us feel better about that tension.
God is LOVE
God is JUST
God is WRATH
God is PATIENT
God is HOLY
God is a PERFECT FATHER
Many people want God to just be ALL ABOUT LOVE! But it’s hard to reconcile when we see things in this life that we can’t attribute to love. We know the Old Testament shows a God of Wrath at times, but we don’t want or like the idea of Him pouring out His wrath on us – so we don’t use that one very often. We see that He is JUST, yet when God seems to act in a manner that is unfair, we have a hard time relieving the tension that creates in us.
Maybe God is MORE than just ONE attribute. Maybe He is (to the infinite degree) ALL things at ALL times and cannot simply be labeled or put into one category.
Does this create TENSION for us? YES!
As you’ve heard me say (or write) before, I believe that inside of this tension is the real POWER and ENERGY that makes life so amazing. We are NEVER just ONE thing. It’s okay to live in the tension of being a care free perfectionist. You can be a cynical optimist – there is an energy there that is needed in this world. Don’t fight that tension, embrace it!
I believe the fact that because GOD is all things at all times does create tension in our ability to understand Him, but I also believe that in this tension is the POWER and ENERGY that makes GOD completely OTHER than us and a Perfect Father!