You Might be a Cynic If…

Remember that book I recommended last January? The one that Tim Keller praised, that my pastor referenced weekly, and that friends already had earmarked and highlighted?

praying life

He entitled his ninth chapter Understanding Cynicism, but he might as well have christened it Understanding Tracey. It’s uncanny how, with one well-placed jab, cross, hook, upper-cut combo, he splayed all the hidden thoughts of my heart onto a page. You just might be a cynic {or a gal named Tracey} if:

  • You go from seeing the bright side of everything to seeing the dark side of everything. You feel betrayed by life.
  • You’re convinced that everyone has an angle. Behind every silver lining is a cloud. You’re always observing, critiquing, but never engaging, loving, hoping.
  • Your spirit has begun to deaden. Because you see “what is really going on” around you, you struggle with defeated weariness…and even question the active goodness of God on your behalf.

And this. Oh this.

  • Weariness and fear leave you feeling overwhelmed, unable to move. Cynicism leaves you doubting, unable to dream. The combination shuts down your heart, and you just show up for life, going through the motions. Some days it’s difficult to get out of your pajamas.

I used to think I suffered from a 7-year bout of postpartum depression. Pajamas until noon {or 3, or 4, or heck, 8 PM} were just a natural part of a preschool Momma’s life, right? But the baby is now in Kindergarten and that pregnancy induced hormone imbalance has long since regulated.  The answer to my weariness isn’t Zoloft. The answer is Truth. And the crazy truth is: I’ve been played

I’m a pawn in Satan’s hand. A protégé of the evil one. Really. I’m not trying to pen hyperbole here. Satan played me like he played Eve in the Garden:

“For God knows that when you eat of [the apple] your eyes will be opened and you will be like God.” (Genesis 3:5)

Did you catch that?  Satan’s first recorded words are the words of a crowned cynic. He questions the active goodness of God on Eve’s behalf. He says essentially, “Don’t you see what’s really going on here, woman? Open your eyes, you fool. There’s no silver lining in this arrangement.  God’s hiding something from you. In fact, He’s betraying you…Satan sees evil everywhere, even in God himself. Ironically, it became a self-fulfilling prophecy.” (A Praying Life, p.78)


Satan questioned God’s truth and caused Eve to become discontent with God’s provisions for her. Satan has not changed his tactics. He may not be able to create chaos, but he sure knows how to corrupt our view of God and generate madness.

To that I say, “So be it!” At least now I’m onto him. And In a strange twist of cynicism turned cynical, I’ve figured out, “what’s really going on here.” And what’s really going on just might catch you like a unexpected upper cut:

  • I may never know love like Love knows me, but that didn’t stop Love from coming down
  • God doesn’t withhold His goodness from me like Satan accuses. No, God surrounds me with dear friends {who really do love me as much as I love them}. He’s filled my walls with four children who really would come searching for me if I ever decided to crawl into that cave I often search for and hide. He’s blessed me with a husband whose heart really does break every time I mistrust his good intentions because I’m sure I know, “what’s really going on” in his heart.
  • Satan wrapped God’s precious {and plentiful} gifts in shady sheets of cynicism and black bows of scrutiny just to corrupt my view. Just to keep me from seeing the beautiful Truth – I AM LOVED.

This Truth energizes. This Truth encourages.  This Truth sets me free to move, and trust, and dream.  I no longer just show up for life. I LIVE.

In the arms of my Savior, I live.  With my head at rest upon the Father’s beating heart, I live. Like a child in His lap, listening to His great love story {again and again} to rescue me from my sin, I live. I am loved and beloved. And because of this, I can follow Paul Miller into chapter ten. I can Follow Jesus out of Cynicism.

Will you follow me there, too?

Might I Pray for Us?

Dear Jesus,

We are corrupt.  Our vision is skewed. In an act of prideful cynicism, we think we really know what’s going on. But only You see the full Truth. Only You know the real story. Help us to believe every word You say. Help us to hold onto every Truth you reveal. Help us to break free from the shackles and deceit of a cynical mindset and be set free to live, and love, and have our beautiful being in You. Amen.


2 thoughts on “You Might be a Cynic If…

  1. I have been reading this book. I just got done with the 9th chapter on Cynicism. It was a huge slap in my face as well. Thanks for your post. It meant a lot to see others who struggle with cynicism. Follow Jesus.

    • Sometimes I feel numb to the whole idea of cynicism because I’m so cynical. It’s masked as “intellectual” or “snarky” but yet, still separates me from the believing the truth – God really doesn’t have it out for me. And neither do most of my family/friends. Thanks for the encouragement.

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