Cynicism is everywhere online – especially in the age of social media. Recently I started paying attention to how often negative memes and online posts were no longer resonating with me. Even fellow Christians were consistently writing and sharing posts about how “you can’t trust everybody” and how we must be careful with sharing even prayer requests or successes because others do not want to see us win.
Okay. Sure. We live in a world where not everyone has our best interests at heart. That is a given. All will not be made perfect until we get to heaven. I get that. But do I really have to magnify the negative in my life or in the world in general in order to be called a “realist?” The Bible says in Romans 14:23 that whatever is not done out of faith is sin. And I believe the reason the constant cynicism has started grating on me so much is exactly that. It is a sinful attitude that makes no room for the God of wonders who is always working to do the impossible on our behalf, whether we are aware or not. My faith in God is big (I’m having a mountain top experience; there’s been some valleys but the current season is a GREAT one). If I serve a God who can conquer anything and do everything, why would I choose an attitude that ascribes evil intentions to any and everyone?
I refuse! In fact, I unequivocally reject cynicism. I will not capitulate to a mindset that magnifies those that are “against me” and discounts the innumerable number that are sent by God to fight on my behalf. With that said, here are 15 ways I am choosing faith over cynicism in this season of my life:
- By celebrating my portion. I refuse to focus on what I do not have. If I need it and don’t have it, I choose to believe that it is coming because God said no good thing will He withhold from me. And if it turns out that God does not want it for me then I can celebrate the fact that He knows best and what I thought was good may be an enemy of God’s best.
- By assuming the best unless/until I have proof that says otherwise. Much of the cynicism around me is based on ascribing ill intent to others when in actuality the person you thought was ‘hating’ on your win may actually not be thinking about you at all. So if someone does something that seems intentionally hurtful, I will assume that they have no ill intent until I am proven wrong. I will give people as much grace as I am hoping they will show me in my own time of need. Quick story – a friend of mine once accused me of intentionally trying to embarrass and destroy her marriage. The whole exchange was humiliating and deeply hurtful because for someone who knew me for almost a decade, she did not give me any benefit of the doubt in the moment. It was always deeply painful to me that despite our long history of genuine friendship, she assumed the worst about me without hearing me out.
- By being quick to listen and slow to speak or respond. When someone comes at me with a sharp retort, I wanna throw mine right back. But doing that only stirs the pots and adds fuel to the fire. If I take just one minute to breathe and consider the relationship between the person and I and the kind of impression I want to leave on others, I am more likely to respond with kindness than cynicism and might even give them an opportunity to clean up their sharp retort.
- By not “spilling the tea.” If the news I have about someone is interesting but likely to do more harm than good to the subject’s reputation, then I commit to shutting up. People of the world may delight in a “I knew she/he was no good” news about others, but as children of God, we are not called to be entertaining. We are called to be salt and light. Salt and light are both QUIET (lol).
- By giving grace – especially to the people who do not ‘deserve’ it (because to be honest, I don’t deserve it either). It is easy to be pleasant to those who are pleasant to us but withholding a cynic attitude from people who have hurt me or are purposefully unpleasant to me is gonna require grace. But we are called to do hard things.
- By celebrating (GENUINELY) when others win. This one relates to point number 1. If I do not have a good eye and a grateful heart about whats happening in my life then it will be easy to feel like “he/she/they always get the good stuff and I don’t.” I am committed to keeping cynicism out of my heart by rejoicing when others rejoice. And if I can’t rejoice because I am just feeling that sorry for myself, then being real about it and asking God for the grace (there’s that word again) to be able to rejoice with others with a genuine heart. Story time – In 2008 one of my best childhood friends got married. When I was on her wedding website before the big day, I bawled my eyes out – not because I was happy for her but because a part of me felt like I would NEVER have what she had. But I was honest with God about my emotions and I kept submitting them to Him until He gave me genuine joy. By the time her big day arrived months later, I was able to celebrate and serve her as fully my heart truly desired.
- By praying for those that do not like me (or vice versa, LOL!). It is really hard to have a hardened heart towards someone that you are praying for. Even if their very existence feels like a personal affront, I promise that when I commit to praying for my least favorite person whenever they cross my mind, (you know, instead of rolling my eyes and sucking my teeth – guilty!) the cynicism seeps right out of my heart and I find myself growing in compassion towards them – even if (God forbid) they happen to chew with their mouth open or clip their toenails at the dinner table (*gags*).
- By canceling the ‘pity party’. When something (*coughs* someone) really gets under my skin, the first thing I want to do is text one (or two…or five) of my friends and tell them every irritating detail about the offender so we can all agree about how truly awful it-he-she-they are. But when/if I do that, all I am doing is inviting everyone into my misery so we can all magnify how awful everything is. If I take a minute and process it (through reflection, self-evaluation and hopefully prayer) without spreading it far and wide through my circle then I have done much to quarantine the cynicism from creeping into other hearts as well.
- By remembering who God is! This is a big one! Much of the doom and gloom of our attitudes comes from this unspoken belief that people just do terrible things or bad things just happen for no good reason and there is nothing anyone can do about it. Not so! We serve a God who is completely sovereign! Nothing that happens to us is wasted because there is no evil He cannot redeem. Jesus Christ being crucified, bloodied and buried seemed pretty awful to everyone who watched but it turned out to be the greatest comeback in history! If God can do THAT, He can do anything – even if it seems completely hopeless to my human mind.
- By saying what God says. It is amazing how much of my perspective on the world gets corrected if I simply agree with the word of God! For example, if sickness comes knocking on my (or a loved one’s) door, it would be completely understandable for me to grieve the difficulty of illness and also harbor some fear of death as an unknown. But two things can be true at the same time. Yes, I or someone I love may be sick (even terminally so) but we can also hold on to the word of God at the same time. We can believe God for healing and stand on His word, hope against every hope in the midst of that storm and see how God writes the end. Because every diagnosis is not a death sentence and even if healing does not take place on this earth, we already know that death lost to Christ. Agreeing with God’s word immediately fixes my perspective from “woe is me” to “God can do that!”
- By remembering the last time everything went RIGHT. Nothing makes a cynic out of us humans faster than a perpetual cycle of “going through.” When it feels like you are always in one storm/fight/trial or another, it is very easy to lose your joyful outlook on life. Trust me. I know. I am living it in real time. There have been days where I have literally yelled at God like “can I just please get a break, a breather, something? I literally just came out of one situation and you’re gonna have me go through another??!” Sorry to tell you this but Jesus promised us trials and tribulations – nobody wants to claim those promises though. “In this world, you WILL (not might) have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world,” (emphasis mine). That is Jesus Christ talking. Tribulations are guaranteed. But so is victory! When I am sorely tempted to roll over and die because yet another awful thing is happening, I challenge myself to remember the last time God blew my mind; the fact is that God made a way for me out of some pretty hopeless situations and I am still standing. I force myself to recall the last time God came through, the last time He answered my prayers and the last time He met my need. Those thoughts keep the joy in my heart and the cynicism out.
- By switching my seat. Psalms 1:1 states that a man is blessed if he does not “sit in the seat of the scornful.” I know exactly who to go to if I am looking for snark and side-eyes. (Just like we all know which of our cousins is always ready to go with us and fight somebody because they are about that life). If I truly want to kick cynicism out of my heart then I cannot surround myself with those who never see the good in any situation. The Bible calls them “the scornful.” If I am having a hard day or someone has genuinely offended me, rather than pouring my heart out to someone who will encourage me to hold on to the malice, I have to switch seats. I need to call friends who are encouragers and who are more versed in prayer than in gossip. Walk with the wise and you will become wise.
- By taking God’s promises personally. There was a time where I was struggling to believe that God actually made any promises to me. The Bible was for everybody (or every believer) so God could not have been talking to me, personally, could He? Yes, of course He could and He is! The Bible is the living word of God. It breathes! It speaks! God’s promises for me are indeed yes and amen! Even if others have decided that there is no good thing left in the world and all we can expect is heartbreak and loss, I have decided to hold on to what God has promised me, which is life and life more abundantly (so there)!
- By focusing on my focus. Look, y’all! I have been dreaming since age three about what my life would be, what trajectory it would take and what impact or legacy I would leave behind. It is the main reason that I as a toddler told everyone who would listen that I was going to be a lawyer. That dream never wavered or changed. As I have grown, God has given me dozens more passions and developed me in ways I never thought possible back when I was living recklessly and outside of His will. But now, in Christ, I have a completely different focus. I have to make Christ known in my own little world (family, friends, community, circle) and I have to use every last gift He has given me to make a difference for others (whether it is writing, speaking, encouraging or lawyering). I have a LOT of work to do before my time on this earth is up. I use to be so consumed with the years I wasted but now I’m more concerned with making the rest of my days count. I do not have TIME to be consumed with cynicism. I cannot spend all of my days worrying about who is not for me or whether or not I have haters (I don’t! I ain’t nobody). There is work to do! When I give an account of my life, my Creator is not gonna excuse me of a selfish, fruitless life because “the world was just so terrible and I couldn’t get anyone to support me.” That’s not gonna fly. So I have my hands to the plow and I am not looking left or right, talk less of looking back.
- By agreeing with God’s vision for my life. There is a version of myself that God had in mind when He breathed life into me in my mother’s womb. I get glimpses of her when I am fully walking in purpose. That woman is something fierce and I can’t wait till she looks back at me in the mirror. Nowhere in that vision is there room for someone who believes the worst about others, backbites, gossips or operates her life in fear. Nowhere. In order to be the woman God has called me to be, cynicism cannot come. The “oh, they don’t want to see you win” attitude has to go in the trash. It does not help me. It is not beneficial to anything that I have to do. So whenever bitterness tries to creep into my heart and convince me the world isn’t all that great and people really are as awful as I fear, I will choose to remember the vision God has given me for my life. I will hold tight to picture of the person I know He has created me to be, and I will not give room for evil to triumph over good in my outlook on life.
So this was a lot longer than I anticipated. I really wanted to keep it short and make a list of just bullet points but you guys already know by now that short and sweet is not my style (LOL!). I like words! I got stories to tell! And honestly, this was a fun and thought-provoking post to write. I almost wanted to cut it short to ten points but I promised on my Instagram (@attorneymo) that I would give you guys 15 points, and I wanted to honor your expectations (plus I already designed and published the graphic and I can’t have you guys thinking I am a liar! LOL!)
I hope this post made you laugh, think and contemplate the various ways that casual cynicism may be robbing you of your joy. And I also hope that like me, you will commit to choosing faith over believing the worst regarding the world around us and the people in it.
I am committed to operating by faith and doing the hard things this year! Are you in?
Yours in Christ,