Buoyant

buoy·ant
ˈboiənt,ˈbo͞oyənt/
adjective
1.  able or apt to stay afloat or rise to the top of a liquid or gas.
2.  cheerful and optimistic.

When I got to Baylor, the kids there used to really annoy me.  They didn’t get most of my cynicism born humor.  They hadn’t had many of the life experiences I had and didn’t seem to use quite as colorful a vocabulary as I did to tell stories or conduct normal conversation.  I found them inexperienced and frankly, a little boring.

I graduated in five years, working almost full-time my last few years to make everything work.  I matriculated, crossed the stage, and got my diploma.  Beautifully framed, but never hung.  

The real journey of those five years had little to do with academia and everything to do with traveling from…

  • death to life
  • orphanhood to relationship
  • darkness to light

By the time I graduated, I admired and was almost jealous of those other kids.  I would have given anything to have gone back and not experienced all the things I did before college.  To not have seen, done, and lived through all the things my younger self was not ready to handle or capable of processing.

I used to think those Baylor kids were lucky and had won the cultural life lottery.  They didn’t have to work, their parents all seemed to be married, and they didn’t know much about sex, drugs, or rock&roll.  They were unaffected by the things that I thought gave me the right to be sullen and negative.

But I realized it wasn’t primarily luck that defined their sunny disposition.  It wasn’t merely good rearing that made them so joyful.  Some of the most optimistic people I have encountered in the world (especially on missions) have none of the things I attributed to this positive outlook. 

They were operating with a different world view than mine.  They were choosing, hope, faith, and the understanding that they were created, chosen, and loved by one who they could never disappoint.  They were the child of a King and approached life with a completely different filter and set of expectations.

I am not a naturally positive person.  I am not sure than anyone is, but there are some people who predominantly choose to see the good.  They rest in the hope and promises they find in the pages of the book of life.  They root out the cancerous people and the toxic inputs into their life that rob them of hope and joy.  They choose to believe that despite everything in the culture that would encourage otherwise, that there is a King overseeing his Kingdom and the end of our story lands on him setting everything right again.

You can’t float in all water, but it is pretty easy if a few key conditions are present:

  • The water you float in is relatively calm
  • You get real calm and still
  • The salinity or the conditions of the water you choose to soak in are just right
  • You don’t panic

No one is naturally buoyant by either of the definitions above, but we can all learn to float.

The people we lead and love are taking cues for us.  When they look us in the eyes, do they see negative expectations and impending doom, or peace?  Do they see confidence and hope?

Believe it or not, it is a choice…
despite your circumstances.

Doing the work it takes to find joy and peace is simply “good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on the earth to offer others…” according to Parker J. Palmer.  

We are the purveyors of the hope of the world.

  • Would others describe you as negative?
  • What do you think the effect is of that on others?
  • What are the things that bring you life?  Bring you down? (people, politics, situations)
  • What do you need to add more of into your life and what do you need to eliminate?