“If you expect the worst, you’ll never be disappointed.”
Pessimism just means that you can never be disappointed, because you’ll never hope for anything. I used to think this was true, but perhaps that was just because I’m naturally a pessimist. Our world teaches us to actually not be optimistic, at least not in this day and age, but rather to be pessimistic, as this is equated to being “realistic,” rather than “idealistic.” As with most things in life, either extreme is probably not healthy, but rather, we do need a healthy dose of optimism thrown in with our pessimism.
People would often point out to me what a pessimist I am, and I actually used to resent this part of my personality. I never took the Myers-Briggs Personality Test until coming to college, but upon having a friend who knew me well enough take it for me instead, my results came out as being ISTJ. ISTJ personality types are known to be pessimistic, as we’re less big-picture and more about being realistic and sensing through tangible means. However, all is not lost; there is, ironically, hope for pessimistic personality types.
More pessimism means opportunities for greater faith. God is an omniscient God; He knows everything, and He knows all about us. He knows our hearts and all the struggles we go through, and because of this, He sees and is glorified when we step out in faith, because it is that much harder for a pessimist to do so. Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” [John 20:29]. Jesus says this after resurrecting and appearing before His disciple Thomas, who has actually been commonly analyzed as having an ISTJ personality type. Thomas actually had to feel Jesus’ body afterwards in order to believe that it really was Jesus. However, the Bible says that us, the people who have not seen but yet have believed, are blessed.
The J part of my personality, which stands for judging, is typically associated with order, structure, and decisiveness, and by extension, planning. I see this in myself in how I plan out, at the very beginning of the quarter, what I have to do every single day for the next 10 weeks of the quarter, how I’ve already planned out basically every class I need to graduate, and even had my 7 year plan to go to law school when I was only in high school. Surrendering control, or rather, acknowledging and submitting to the reality of God’s authority, could be much more difficult for someone who, like me, has so many plans already constructed for their life. However, especially during the college decision process, I’ve since learned that I need to give up the rigid plans that I had for myself in order for God’s plans, which are just waiting for me to accept them, to be fulfilled.
No matter where we are or who we are, God sees our struggles, and is pleased with everything we do for His sake, for His glory. We all have unique personalities, given to us by God Himself, and therefore we all have unique struggles with and in our faith, and God honors that. In the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30), God shows us that He is pleased and honored when we use what He’s given us, even if we think it’s little compared to others, or seems impossible. Everything we do for Him, He cherishes.
He must increase, but I must decrease. [John 3:30]