Jesus Never Said, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”
Somewhere the ultra-conservative, right-wing religious-Pharisees are probably shouting something like, “Amen. It may not be popular, but sometimes you have to step in and tell people what they’re doing wrong before they hurt someone, or worse, defile the whole church! One bad apple spoils the bunch!” While at the same time, all the super liberal left wingers are shouting, “You tell those judgmental hypocrites who are always using Jesus to manipulate everyone around them. And while we’re making lists of things Jesus never said, let me add a few…” Jesus never said a lot of things, so why focus on this one? My husband jokingly suggested that I write a list of things Jesus should have said. While it has been a long time since God struck people dead, I don’t want to provoke Him. Instead, I want to provoke you. Tell me, what’s wrong with a little negativity now and then?
Some people say there are three types of people; the optimist, the realist, and the pessimist. Or as I like to think of them; the annoying people, the realistic people, and the depressing people. I know, I know, that wasn’t very nice, but who says we have to be nice right? Not Jesus, wink wink. For years I have been annoyed by those people who are always happy, or at least pretend to be. Again, not nice, sorry, I can’t help myslelf. But not until recently have I wondered why? I am not asking why some people are always happy (I would have to believe that a person could actually be happy all the time to question how they got that way). I am asking why I find clinically happy people to be such a nuisance, after recently discovering that I am not alone.
Last week a good friend of mine shared a touching story about a well known blogger who has been criticized for making it look like raising a child with autism was “all butterflies and rainbows.” Reason and logic would argue otherwise. My friend has been greatly encouraged by this woman’s words, expressing frustration over those who attack such an inspiring mother who has single-handedly turned a challenge into an opportunity. “She chooses to look at the positive side of things. Who could be upset with that?” she asked rhetorically. “Me.” I thought, but apparently I’m not alone.
I am not sure exactly why I get so upset at people who are happy all the time. Maybe it’s that I don’t believe them. Everyone gets annoyed at people who are lying right? Or maybe I think they are pretending to be happy to give off the appearance of perfection. Jesus was perfect and He wasn’t always happy, so why should I be? Or maybe I think they are putting on a happy face so that the rest of us will think they don’t have any problems. Jesus had problems, so why can’t we have problems? Or maybe I think they want us to think they are better than the rest of us because they don’t say mean things like, "You unbelieving and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? (Jesus in Matthew 17:17)." Only the Ned Flanders of this world can tell us for sure if one person can be that happy all the time. But for the tortured souls who are not, your inexplicable happiness is invalidating our pain.
We know you think you’re better than us you Pollyanna wannabe’s. I say this in love, knowing full well that you are the yin to our yang. You’ve chosen the better route, to rise above your pain and find the silver lining around the dark clouds we ‘sinister’ types dwell in. But I’ll let you in on a little secret… we think we’re better than you, because we embrace life like we embrace people, unconditionally, warts and all. Truth be told, pride simmers through both camps, camp Eeyore and camp Pollyanna. Whether you are blissfully unaware, or painfully cynical, just don’t be pridefully judgmental.
Jesus wasn’t always happy, and he wasn’t always sad, but he was always kind. Kindness is characterized by goodness, gentleness, or benevolence. He had our best interest in mind. Even the hard things he said came from a good place. You could count on him to tell it like it is, even if it wasn’t what you wanted to hear. He wasn’t trying to be nice; defined as pleasing, agreeable, gratifying, and delightful. He was trying to draw us into relationship with himself, which he did by being real. To you happy-go-lucky types, if you really are that happy all the time, more power to you. Just don't pretend everything is peaches and cream if it is not. And to you Debbie Downers, just because you're miserable, doesn't mean everyone else has to be. If we are nice and happy all the time we will have a lot of acquaintances, but no friends. Acquaintances are formed by lighthearted pleasantries exchanged between nice people, but relationships are built by the unconditional love which graciously accepts the other person as they are; no matter how optimistic or pessimistic they may be.