Optimist? Pessimist? Realist? Legalist? How about Faithist?

Half a GLass of Water

Half Empty or Half Full?

We’ve all heard the classic test to determine whether an individual is more of an optimist or a pessimist.  Fill a glass half up with water and ask them to describe what they see.  If they say the glass is half full, they are an optimist, and if they say it is half empty, then they are a pessimist.

I used to call myself a realist.  I made a point of not falling into the trap of putting either a positive or negative spin on the observation, and said simply that I saw a half-a-glass of water.

I said I was a realist, but I actually behaved more like an optimist…or maybe optimist combined with legalist.  Though I would not have verbalized it, I actually behaved based on a belief that, for important life situations, if I worked hard enough, prayed long enough, and believed deeply enough, that it would all work out fine.  Of course, this perception required that if things continued to digress, then I felt compelled to work harder, pray longer, and believe deeper.

I have discovered, however, that things don’t always work that way.  Sometimes, really bad things happen, and sometimes situations don’t work out at all like we wanted or expected.  Yet, optimism never considers that possibility, and legalism refuses to accept that possibility.  So when the unthinkable happens, optimism and legalism simply fall apart, leaving no hope and no explanation.

But there is a better way.  Faith doesn’t worry about whether the glass is half-empty or half-full.  Nor does faith insist on a factual perception of realism, nor a works-based method of controlling outcomes thru our own legalistic efforts.  Faith simply says, “Thank you, God, for providing the water I need for today.”

God never promised that bad things would not happen.  He does, however, promise to be with us as we go through difficult situations, and He does promise to give us the grace and strength necessary to endure whatever difficulties we face.  He also promises that “…God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).

Faith recognizes that sometimes bad things happen, yet refuses to live in fear, choosing to live, instead, trusting in God’s goodness even in the midst of horrific circumstances.

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you. For I am the LORD your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior;” Isaiah 43:1-3.

How about you?  What areas of your life have you been living based on pessimism, optimism, or legalism, rather than by faith?


8 thoughts on “Optimist? Pessimist? Realist? Legalist? How about Faithist?

    • That is actually a very good place to be, Sylvia…an extremely uncomfortable place, but a good place.

      There have been several periods in my life when all I had was faith…and, yes, there have even been times when I wasn’t too sure about even the faith. Times when I was hurting so bad, and feeling so disoriented that it didn’t seem possible that an all-powerful God could truly love me.

      And yet, even in the midst of those difficult times, as I walked through “The Valley of the Shadow of Death,” as I cried out to God in a mixture of supplication, frustration and anger, God answered in the most unexpected ways…and drew me close to Him.

      I’m praying for you, that God will use this period of your life to more fully reveal Himself to you and draw you closer to Him…and that the Holy Spirit (the Comforter) will wrap you in His love.

  1. Such a good/uplifting point, I don’t know that I have alwasy thought of it that way. God doesn’t call us to be happy go-lucky all the time, he calls us to believe in him, like you said to simply have faith. It IS so simple, why do we make it so hard.

    • I don’t know why it’s hard hard to keep things simple, but it is.

      When faith in God is all I have, it is sufficient. However, when stresses ease up, pain abates, and things start to go smoother, it seems that inevitably my heart starts turning more toward optimism and/or legalism rather than real faith.

      It takes a conscious continual effort to redirect my heart back to true faith in God and His goodness.

  2. chris johnson
    I was curious if you ever thought of changing the layout of your blog? Its very well written; I love what youve got to say. But maybe you could a little more in the way of content so people could connect with it better. Youve got an awful lot of text for only having 1 or two images. Maybe you could space it out better?

    • Thank you, Chris! Great suggestion!

      Yes, I agree the layout needs updating.

      The current layout was sort of thrown together to get things going, with the intent of improving when I had time to work with it more. I’ve been a little frustrated working with the WordPress template. While I’m confident the issue is my own ignorance, and not the WordPress functionality, the same featueres that made it super easy to get started have made it difficult to revise layout with much in the way of flexibility.

      Maybe it’s time to break down and buy a more versatile template…


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