EXTRA! SO VERY EXTRA!

Assassinating cynicism

In Choosing to see the wonderful #CTSTW, Encouragement, Friendship, Happiness, Thoughts on Christianity on January 21, 2014 at 3:28 am

I hate cynicism. It’s snide and snarky only as a veneer to hopelessness and unkindness. But, I really like Conan O’Brien.

So, I’m a hypocrite because I have been feeling very cynical lately. The hypocrisy has nothing to do with Conan.

I rarely “talk” (that is, in person with audible words) about church or Christianity. I rarely talk to people with whom I used to go to church. I rarely enter a church building. It didn’t hit me until recently that when I talk church, or go to church, or associate myself with anything that brings up church….cynicism takes over and I become someone very unlike who I actually am. I become mysterious, closed, cowardly, inarticulate, distrustful, and angry.

I’m not that person.

Have you seen Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop? It’s literally quite an interesting documentary. I remember Conan when he first started with Late Night. To this day, he is as he was then: funny, sharp, sarcastic. Then, he got fired or he quit. Let’s meet in the middle and say he quired. He gave a lovely farewell speech. Apparently, he also hates cynicism. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/01/22/conan-obriens-heartfelt-f_n_433954.html

Watching him work through the anger and the disappointment of leaving the Tonight Show was overwhelming because at every turn, I could literally feel him beating back the cynicism in a triumphant process full of hard work and trying moments. He spent time mulling, then he put together a comedy tour, hit the road, rocked Bonaroo, and played guitar with Jack White.

I don’t play guitar. But, recently, I have seen or heard from several of the teenagers I used to work with in teen ministry. It’s been so refreshing. For so long, I questioned my purpose for having been there. I questioned whether or not we did any good. I questioned whether or not I had been helpful. I questioned whether or not church as it is has a legitimate and meaningful place in the lives of today’s teens and young adults. Notice I said church–that weekly religious gathering. I had questions, but not a lot of answers.

Getting hugs and e-mails and text messages from these people has not really given me the answers. I have realized, however, that the questions I am asking are not that important. I cannot allow the sadness and pain of the present dim the truth of what happened in the past. Allowing the present to color the past inevitably leads to cynicism about the future. I worked with some great adults and teens to try to provide a safe, healthy, loving environment for teens to come and learn about Jesus. We laughed and cried and laughed and preached and laughed and prayed and laughed and travelled and laughed and fussed. We laughed a lot because we enjoyed being together and we found joy in talking about Jesus and in loving each other.

Thanks to Conan, I know that just because I left doesn’t mean that I have to harbor bitterness. Just because I felt pushed out of that church doesn’t mean that I can’t find a place in another church. It’s pointless to rehash the past. It’s done. The hurts are there. The wounds are there. Healing is process that looks to the future.

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