Rose-Colored Glasses

Sometimes it’s hard for me to jump on the positivity bandwagon.  Positive thinking, positive outcome. I would really like to believe that this is true, but I can think of story after story where no amount of positive thinking would change the outcome of the situation at hand. And honestly it may take a while before a positive viewpoint could change how someone felt about the situation.

When I was in high school, my girlfriends and I had these really cool matching sunglasses.  They had rose-colored lenses.  I wish I still had them.  Back then I was convinced that the color really did make me feel happier, and we were clearly super hot wearing them.  Maybe it did make me happier to look through rose-colored lenses all the time…  My mom painted my room yellow during that same time period.  I remember reading how happy the color yellow could make you.  When Ross and I first got married, we had a red wall in our living room and red accents in almost every room.  After our first year, we moved into a new house and as time went by Ross would often request “calmer colors” for our home.  We finally remodeled and switched our passionate, fiery red for teal and yellow tones.  I can’t deny that it feels more peaceful… However, I can also say that our peaceful colors don’t change that we have three very passionate, fiery girls that fill the space of our home.  It doesn’t matter what peaceful room they walk into; things can become very chaotic, very quickly.  And I can confidently say that when looking at crap through rose-colored lenses, it’s still crap on the other side.

As I have walked through suffering for the last couple of weeks, I’ve realized that I would have loved to have had some rose-colored glasses lying around just to give them a try.  I would have tried ANYTHING to make the pain go away or for moving my body in the midst of pain to be comfortable.  I have often wondered why one verse from the Word of God and meditating on it wasn’t touching the pain.  Pain is an interesting beast.  I am someone who becomes very internal while coping when the pain is high.  I just don’t want to talk about it.  Ross always tells people how quiet I am in labor and through transition of childbirth.  (I know it’s surprising.) But it’s the only way I can cope.  I have to concentrate.  And it’s not positivity that gets me through it…it’s the acceptance of the pain in that moment and creating some kind of plan to move through it.  The last few weeks I’ve almost beat myself up internally that I couldn’t seem to get my spirit into the presence of the Lord enough to meditate on Him or a Scripture through the pain.  It was never going to happen.  BUT, I’ve been so grateful for the BODY OF CHRIST that has done that for me in the midst of my pain.  The people who text every day still and ask how I am doing or offer prayers and encouragement or just plain statements of sadness with me.  The Church has pressed in when I couldn’t.  Because all I’ve been able to do is surrender…surrender to the pain, the sadness, the grief, the fear at moments, and then to the HOPE of Jesus and His Cross.

As I watched another family lose their precious child the other night, I can guarantee that no amount of positive thinking was going to bring a positive outcome.  There was no earthly positive outcome waiting for them at the end of their horrific night.  But Jesus.  He was THERE.  He was with them in the hospital room, He was with them when they stood in front of the surgeon. He was with their precious child as he came and went from life over and over.  He was there. And the hope and the joy of the cross…the reality of eternity…that…that was THERE WITH the family.

If someone had been wearing rose-colored lenses that night, they would have taken them off. Those rose-colored lenses would have fogged the reality of Jesus and life and death…reality.  Sometimes the positivity gospel can fog up seeing things as they really are…


The Tenth Avenue North song I Have This Hope (emphasis added):

As I walk this great unknown
Questions come and questions go
Was there purpose for the pain?
Did I cry these tears in vain?

I don’t want to live in fear
I want to trust that You are near
Trust Your grace can be seen
In both triumph and tragedy

I have this hope
In the depth of my soul
In the flood or the fire
You’re with me and You won’t let go

But sometimes my faith feels thin
Like the night will never end
Will You catch every tear
Or will You just leave me here?

But I have this hope
In the depth of my soul
In the flood or the fire
You’re with me and You won’t let go
[x2]

So, whatever happens I will not be afraid
Cause You are closer than this breath that I take
You calm the storm when I hear You call my name
I still believe that one day I’ll see Your face

And I have this hope
In the depth of my soul
In the flood or the fire
You’re with me
I have this hope
In the depth of my soul
In the flood or the fire
You’re with me and You won’t let go

In the flood or the fire
You’re with me and You won’t let go
[x2]

You can sing this song differently if you KNOW the fire and the flood. If you really believe He is “closer than this breath I take,” you know this HOPE.


He’s NEAR.  So very near.  And there is joy and hope in that, but it’s not always happy or positive.  And it doesn’t necessarily feel good.  It may feel holy but not good.  Sometimes it just sucks.  I don’t believe in wallowing or being negative about all things.  It’s important not to take sin and confuse it for pain or trials.  Sin can definitely lead to pain and trials, but there are some trials and pain that come just because we are on this side of eternity. We have to take them for what they are, and while wallowing or playing in your own mess that you made is not my favorite thought, I do believe in being real.

The positivity gospel has no hope, no Sovereign God attached to it.  It’s all up to you.  If you are positive, good things will happen.  There is a hospital full of people wherever you are that will tell you that is a lie from the pit of Hell.

I know so many people suffering right now.  One in particular is a friend of a friend.  She has been battling cancer for a LONG time.  Recently it has just gotten harder and harder.  It is devastating to watch even from afar.  But my friend and her group of friends that are loving on this beautiful woman make me so proud.  They are not at ALL afraid of the hard and ugly.  Can I just tell you that it is very HARD and ugly?  And this beautiful community has wrapped their loving arms around this family and been so willing to go to the depths of awful with them.  They have been willing to remodel their kitchen, make t-shirts about bravery, share her story to prayer warriors and sit with them in their darkest moments. This group of friends celebrates with her when things are getting better, and they travel with her to depths of despair. (***As I finished editing this post, I texted this paragraph to my friend to tell her how proud I was of her. She responded by saying her sweet friend went to be Jesus this morning…***)

I truly believe you can really only celebrate with the people who have gone to depths with you.  You want the people who pull you out of the pit to be the same people who were willing to sit in the pit with you and who really know what the pit looked like. 

The only positive thing I can always say is Jesus is here.  He is with me and you in ALL of it.  You can wear your rose-colored glasses if it makes you feel better. Big earrings help me.  But at some point you have to be willing to strip off all your trying and big earrings and rose-colored glasses and just sit with someone in the crap they are sitting in and say “This is really, really crappy. I’m sorry…And He’s here with us and He’s never leaving you.  I also brought some cookies.”

Positive thinking sounds really good, but it’s not what gets people out of the pit. What gets people out of the pit is the people who come and sit with them in the pit and help them make the plan to get out.  I think about the fire and police shows I watch (guilty pleasure).  It’s not often that a rescue out of a pit or sewer or well happens without someone going down into the depths to get the victim.  And rarely do you see them go down and just rescue.   There is some amount of identifying, looking in their eyes, validating, encouraging and being with them in the moment of fear.  Then a plan is put into place and a rescue happens.  But no amount of cheering or encouraging someone from the top of the pit is going to get them out.

More than the rose-colored glasses or positivity classes, I think the Body of Christ is crucial in helping our perspective, helping shift the tides of hearts, and giving us the Joy we are looking for.  It is the people who come around you, sit in your pit with you, and then offer you a hand and help you see the light.  It is the people around you that share the same HOPE as you.  They know that eternity is coming and this side of it just sucks sometimes.  They are the ones willing to say that this is not the best.  They are the ones that KNOW He makes all things beautiful but are okay saying that this (whatever this is in your life) is not yet beautiful.

All the self-talk, speaking it out, or faking-it-til-you-make-it won’t make the hardest thing you’ve ever experienced better.  But the Hope of Jesus and the Truth that He is with you will make the pit bearable maybe even beautiful, and the people who sit with you there and offer a hand out are the most precious, holy parts of it all.

I would challenge you to not downplay another person’s experience.  I would challenge you to experience it with them.  In the emergency room, we can literally go from a death in one room into a room with a kiddo with a broken arm.  The families reactions may not be identical, but there are some very emotional responses in a room with the broken arm that needs surgery.  My co-workers and I are often tempted to remind them to be thankful that their kid is alive and that surgery is really not a big deal compared to what they could be experiencing.  But to the family with the kiddo going to surgery with a broken arm, this may be the worst, scariest experience of their life.  We have the opportunity to sit with them in that and the reality of the fear.  I guarantee they will hear our hope more when we empathize with their pain.  You miss the opportunity to offer the Hope and Joy you possess when you downplay someone else’s experience.  You lose the opportunity for people to really see and feel the hands and feet of Jesus.  If you can’t sit in the pit, then don’t expect to be part of the rescue.

It says in Proverbs (17:22),  “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”  I think it would be easy to interpret this as positivity being good medicine. But joy is far different from positivity.  Joy is what Jesus looked at on the cross knowing what was coming. “…for the JOY that was set before Him, He endured the cross…” Hebrews 12:2. It also says in Romans 12:12 to “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Joyful in hope…Our hope is in Jesus and the Cross. You also see time and time again in the Word that joy is birthed out of trials and mourning. It says in Psalm 126:5 “Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy.”  There is holiness in the hard all throughout the Word of God.  When you look at Jesus, it was by His STRIPES that we were healed (Isaiah 53:5). There may be pain in the night, but the joy comes in the morning… (Your Love Never Fails, Newsboys) 

Earlier today I was listening to a close friend and sister repent for always wanting to drag people into the “kingdom,” but realizing that she missed a lot of life and friendship in the midst of going for it with people.  She didn’t miss it all, but her heart was grieving what she had missed today by always wanting to get people to the next place.  It’s not our first choice, probably, to share in someone’s pain and hard.  It can feel like too much.  Three weeks ago, before steroidal myopathy, when it was just my shoulder that was hurt and my husband was out-of-town, a precious friend of mine (who is going through her own pain and hardship) loaded up her family and brought me a meal.  It was so precious to me. I pray that she felt so much joy in serving from her own place of pain.  There is something about putting yourself out there and being willing ~ getting in the pit no matter where you are in your own life ~ that is so incredibly holy.

It is in the pit and the pain that we can tangibly see Jesus in the face of the Church.  Bride of Christ, we have a calling not to be positive, but to offer the joy of the HOPE OF CHRIST.  He is our hope and the hope of the world.

May we be people who know when to take off the rose-colored glasses and climb into the pit…  May we be people who offer THE hope in the midst of the pit.

Positivity has got nothing on the Joy found in Jesus.