Raising Optimists

I remember back when I was a mothering newbie thinking about how I’d raise little optimists. I believed I could convince my children to see things in the best possible light because I would just model it and dutifully explain that this is the way to embrace life. But my optimism about raising optimists has proven to be patently absurd. My sons were born with certain dispositions and after eleven years of motherhood I now realize that I have almost zero control over their personalities. Genetics are mighty powerful. Will is no Debbie Downer but you wouldn’t say he faces adversity with great hope either. Nate is so roll-with-it that I’m not even sure it’s truly optimism, most of the time he’s just satisfied with whatever. But Sam may be the optimist I’ve been naively aiming for.

A couple weeks ago we were at a swim meet and Sammy was playing with a darling little baby boy who is just over a year old. Sam’s obsessed with this baby because he laughs easily and is seriously about the cutest little fellow you could possibly imagine. Sam lets Baby crawl all over him, and he never tires of playing with him. But that day for whatever reason, Baby bit Sam. And I mean Baby bit the absolute snot out of Sam. Sam did not cry, even though the indentations from Baby’s teeth were deep and well-marked.

I took Sam over to the lifeguard office to rinse out the wound.

“Wow,” Sam said, visibly surprised and sincerely amazed by Baby. “He’s a good biter.”

See, that’s what I like to see. “He’s a good biter!” And Baby was.

Then just a few days later we were at a basketball game that was played about a half hour away. Maybe the thirty-minute drive with daddy behind the wheel was too much, but as we worked our way through the maze of yet another unknown high school in Fairfax County, all of a sudden Sam was quite obviously unwell. He threw up voluminously in the nearby trash can, just down the hall from the gym. Daddy then took him to the restroom to clean him up and I hit the vending machine for an apple juice. We then proceeded to watch brother’s game, which of course, went to overtime. We kept Sam far away from other fans and he appeared to be just fine.

After the game, he gravely told his victorious brother, “Dub, I was almost sick.”

That’s what I’m talking about! Barfing four or five times and then claiming to be “almost sick.”

So maybe I have a budding optimist after all!

The truth is though, that even with an optimistic outlook, life is full of challenges and heartaches and disappointments. I’m so grateful that I have a Savior who knows all about it. He lived each day knowing how the story ends, but He still had challenges and heartaches and disappointments. And because He did, He is full of compassion. He knows. He’s lived it. And He wants you to cling to Him through it all. Are you? Are you giving Him your worries and burdens and the deepest concerns of your heart?

Even with all my optimism, I need to do exactly this tonight and each day.

Matthew 11 closes with Jesus saying this: 28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Come, He says. Come find rest for your souls.

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