I think cynicism and jadedness are some of the biggest threats to my faith and my community. Cynicism is an inclination to believe that people are motivated purely by self-interest. To be jaded is to be tired, bored, or lacking enthusiasm, typically after having had too much of something.
The root of cynicism in my life and I suspect in my friends’ lives is, ironically, selfishness. I expect people to pay attention to me, love me, laugh with me, support me, and perhaps most significantly, agree with me. I find myself drawn to low-conflict relationships where we agree on politics, music, parenting, church, movies, and TV shows. I find myself upset or frustrated when I haven’t been invited to hang out with my like-minded friends. When we are together, it is easy to celebrate our homogeneity and criticize the self-interest of the people we disagree with. We flirt with gossip and sometimes even reach second base with that so very tempting mistress (I’m still talking about gossip). Our social media and 24-hour news cycle world makes this worse. It is so easy to block THEM or never watch THEM and grow increasingly cynical (at best) and disparaging (at worst).
At the same time, it is so easy to have a, “So What?” attitude. It’s so easy to do things out of a sense of duty. The routine becomes the centerpiece and the reason for the routine is lost to a sketchy long-term memory. We set up church because we have to. We clean the bathroom before small group because someone needs to. We rehearse on Thursdays as quickly as possible because we just want to know the songs. We maintain records in Salesforce because someone tells us to.
I’m tired of cynicism stealing my joy and your joy. I’m sick of my jadedness stealing my sense of purpose. I want to fight back against my own attitudes that my joy is dependent on other people. My joy should be rooted in my purpose, and to realize my purpose, I have to abandon my jadedness. It’s time to stop doing things out of a sense of duty and instead do them out of a sense of purpose. It’s time to stop criticizing and condemning others because I’ve made my joy dependent on them agreeing with me.
When we start consistently lacking joy and purpose, our faith erodes. We start to see God as a taskmaster insistent on us fulfilling our empty, rote duties. We start to wonder why God is distant. What we fail to see is that by indulging in cynicism, we blind ourselves to joy God has for us. We live in a static (one might say boring), safe bubble where our sense of joy is dependent on input from other people rather than fulfilling the purpose we have in God. When we become jaded, we may even go through the motions of things God has put before us, but without purpose, we are blind to the joy in those motions. This is most notable for me when I am playing bass in the worship band and feel nothing. We neglect the truth that joy is rooted in purpose, and purpose is kept stoked by striving for goals and celebrating wins.
It’s time to stop focusing on tasks and burdens and start focusing on goals and wins. Some of my overarching personal goals are to grow closer to God, increase in compassion, and grow as a person. And I want that for other people, too. Yes, there are people I should be spending time with that are not easy to spend time with, but the win is seeing them and myself grow closer to God, get challenged in our understanding, and mature as people.
While I erroneously attempt to guard my joy with cynicism and avoidance, I fail in my purpose and fail to recognize the humanity of the people around me. The kicker is that they just want to feel joy, too. Even if they are dead wrong (in your estimation), their motivations are the same as yours: joy, purpose. Think on that long enough and you’ll hopefully conclude (like I have) that that means you may be dead wrong on some things.
Will you allow your cynicism to rob you of opportunities to fulfill your purpose? I’m tired of that route.
Will you allow your jadedness to replace purpose with duty and steal your joy? I’m tired of that route, too.
I am ready to fight hard to see relationships with fresh eyes, focused on goals and my own purpose instead of rote behavior and a need for agreement and affirmation. I’m ready to battle my cynicism and jadedness so that my joy is obvious and evident and dependent on my purpose-filled outputs rather than dependent on inputs from others.
I’m ready to clean the bathroom not because someone has to buy because someone might be at my house on Wednesday and experience God for the first time and I don’t want them to be grossed out by the caked toothpaste my kids leave in the sink.