I had lunch recently with my good friend Pete. He’s often been an encouragement to me, and regularly gives me positive feedback especially about my writing on here. So this time we met up, when he asked me if he could be honest with me, I wasn’t sure what was coming…
“I think you could do better” was what he said. He was referring to my cynical nature. And as much as it hurts my pride to admit it, I think he’s right.
The trouble is that the last few years for a variety of reasons, I have become a cynic. I won’t bear too much of my personal life on here, but it boils down to: struggling with the attitude of conservative Christians towards the world and towards myself, struggling with bad memories associated with the church I attend, a relationship-gone-bad, struggling with the attitudes of apathetic Christianity, family death, family illness, family break up and a long standing battle with depression.
That’s a whole lot of negative stuff. Now for the positive: I scraped through my degree, and, well, I’m still around. I run a business which is going reasonably well and I have some sort of faith still.
I guess you’ve probably noticed that’s quite an unbalanced list. Perhaps I am being unappreciative. Mostly I think I have become jaded by two things: God and Church. I have been angry at God for the situations I have faced, and dealing with that anger is a journey I am going on.
Church on the other hand has been more difficult. Since the summer of 2010 I’ve had huge problems with church. I don’t mean personal (though that hasn’t been the easiest ride), I mean intellectual and theological. And I started off passionate for God, hoping that I would work through my frustrations and help things change for the better.
Then life happened.
As Idle once famously sang, “Life’s a piece of shit”. It’s not been an easy ride for me in recent years – some of my own doing, but mostly external factors. And it’s changed my positive controversy (I’d call it radicalism) into negative cynicism.
To quote Brennan Manning, “something is radically wrong”.
It has been too easy to criticise, to point the finger, to moan, to complain, to question, to doubt, to pick apart and to break down constructions. It’s a lot harder to build up, encourage, shape, dream and hope.
But there is hope. No matter how much I read Rollins’ assertions that all is hopeless and dystopic, that there is no sense in chasing the idol of happiness, I have to constantly remind myself that Jesus’ very mission was to declare, once and for all, that there is and will always be hope. That’s the point.
I hope you don’t mind me being so personal, so raw, so emotional, but I think it’s a really important thing to be honest about, for myself and for those who read this and can sympathise with the cynicism.
I think we could do better.