We are lucky to have a glass…!

So … what sort of person are you? Are you a ‘glass half full’ person or a ‘glass half empty’ person? Do you journey through this life in a spirit of optimistic hope, or is every day overshadowed by a cloud of all-consuming pessimism?

As I talk with people of different ages and life experiences I am often surprised by those whose current or earlier circumstances have been challenging, if not downright difficult. Such people often have a way of looking at life that is refreshing and joyous. Earlier difficulties, and sometimes horrors, are not allowed to spoil their life in the here and now. Their glasses are always half full.

Then there are the other people I meet. These people often live in comfort and have never really had to face up to hardship or real life-changing catastrophe. Their careers either are, or have been, successful. They have few financial problems and they have active social lives. So often, these people live in a constant state of apprehension and uncertainty. Their glasses are invariably half empty.

Of course, the reality of most lives is that we are a bit of each … both ‘half full’ and ‘half empty’ people. We all experience moments when we see a world of opportunity and joy before us, just as we all experience moments when we wonder how we are going to get through the next few hours. Every human being is a rich complex of different emotional states. This multiplicity of reactions to the world in which we live is what makes our humanity so special. The problem comes when, through our interaction with others, we allow the negativity to take hold and the dark side of our emotions take over.

We all know people who are obsessed with their ‘public image’. Those people may not enjoy celebrity status and yet their every waking moment seems to be consumed with how they are perceived by friends, family and neighbours. The opinions and judgements of others really matter to them. That bowing to the whims and fancies of others destroys their peace of mind and drains their half full glasses, turning them into those that are in desperate need of a refill.

The Covid pandemic has given us a chance to rethink the way we view life. The experience of lockdowns, enforced isolation and caring for both ourselves and for others has opened up new vistas. For once, the horizon has changed. We can now turn our backs on our self-imposed negativity and look out on a world that is different, on a world that we can, in this brief window of opportunity, change for the better.

Of course, such change may lead us into re-evaluating relationships we previously held in high esteem. We need to be ready to turn our backs on the dominance of others and take responsibility for setting and striving towards our own targets. We have, in fact, been offered a brand new glass to either fill or drain!

In the New Testament we are offered a road map which shows us the way to a fulfilled and joyful life. That road map has clear signposts for us to follow. Those signposts focus on one overwhelming emotional state, and that emotion is love. We are called to love the God who created us and continues to provide for us through his bountiful generosity. We are called to love our neighbours, including those whom we find challenging. And … we are called to love ourselves.

In the gospels Jesus tells us to set aside our worldly worries and to trust in God. In a world that seems to be driven by worry that may seem like a pipedream. Every time we turn on the news we hear of the horrific way in which humanity behaves towards itself, and towards future generations. Just look at the issue of climate change … when will anyone in authority and power take that global threat seriously? But, Jesus’ teaching still holds good. He tells us not to worry but to return to a simpler time when we able to journey through this life in faith.

In these new times, let us not revert to our old attitudes and ways. Instead, let us take the opportunity to fill the glass that is our lives in a spirit of optimism and love. And, when we have those ‘half empty’ moments, let us remember to cast our cares on Jesus who always cares for us; let us celebrate the half that is still full!

Revd Stephen Buckman