Day 1 | Realism + Hope > Optimism | by Elizabeth Oates

I’m Not Pessimistic; I’m Realistic

By: Elizabeth Oates

My parents divorced when my brother and I were six and two years old. Growing up, we were Easter and Christmas pew warmers, and that was enough for me. My hope was not in the Lord, or heaven, or of anything that held eternal significance. My hope was in a family . . . a dad. My hope was in a white-picket-fence-kind-of-life and I clung to that hope believing that someday it would all be mine and all our family problems would be solved.

Until one day it was all mine, and all our family problems did not disappear. In fact, they simply multiplied. After a rocky second marriage, my mom divorced again. I was a freshman in high school and the events leading up to that divorce were traumatic to say the least. While trying to rebuild our lives, we attended the local Baptist church in our small town.

I remember thinking that the youth group music was lame and the kids were cheezy. They didn’t know anything about real life—not like I did. If their eyes were opened for just one minute, if they saw life the way I saw it, I thought, they wouldn’t be jumping up and down, jamming out to Michael W. Smith, I thought to myself.

The girl who was voted Class Clown in the 5th grade, the girl who was fearless and full of life had become calloused and cynical. Too much raw pain had seeped into my world at such a tender age. Fortunately, Jesus saw the fragile girl through the tough exterior. No matter how fast I ran away from him, he chased me even faster. I eventually surrendered and gave my life to him. For the first time in my life I understood hope.

Circumstances in my family and my life did not improve. They continued to be just as tumultuous, yet I had found hope and faith in Jesus, and I knew that one day God would deliver me from all of it.

Today I am married with five children. My husband is compassionate, patient, and his optimism is nauseating at times. Conversely, he says I am overly pessimistic. Whatev. I prefer the term “realistic.” I don’t sugar coat the truth and I refuse to tell my children they are good at something when they aren’t (our entire crew is tone deaf so they might as well know about it before they stand in line for sixteen hours to audition for The Voice).

I agree with my husband that I would be pessimistic—but Jesus. He took a lonely, bitter, young girl and transformed her into a strong woman dependent on Him. For when I am weak, then I am strong. I have no hope in this world, because I know the torment and trials this world can deliver. But I have hope that one day Jesus will set it all right. And I’m pretty realistic about that.


Elizabeth is a writer and minister who is especially passionate about marriag, foster care, and faith. Find out more about Elizabeth here!

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