Romans 8:38-39.
  • Sage Allaway

Five Reasons I became an Optimist: From Hospitals to Hope

My name is Sage, and I made a mistake. Through the midst of hopeless feelings and darkness, I lost my mind, and made a tried end my life. I was fourteen. It was a sunny day, but for the next month after, I barely saw the sun again while isolated under the hospital ceiling.

A year later, I connected with a friend of mine from that peculiar month-long stay. We stopped for a second between sips of Starbucks as her voice quieted. “You know, if we got what we wanted a year ago,” she reflected, “we both would have been dead.”

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve laughed since then, every joyful moment, the riches I’d gain could pay for that hospital stay.

A few months after, my friend and I created a club based solely on potatoes. “Capsicum Annuum” was its title. A potato anthem was written its purpose, several potassium-centered adventures were conducted, and lasting memories were made. It’s a strange thing to think that a mushy dinner made such an impact on my life. I know I’m not the only one who thinks potatoes have a sentimental value.

Faith Like Potatoes was one of those Christian movies that I grew up with. It’s not one of those cheesy movies, like another addition to God’s Not Dead or films like Sunday School Musical that have a haunting existance. Alright, perhaps it’s a little cheesy, but it's definitely still worth it. One thing I’ve learned from the it is that faith can be found in different things, and like these characters, I’ve found them through potatoes.

Through the darkest drought, I grew the food. Those potatoes wouldn’t grow unless I had faith. That is exactly how life works.

When I was younger, I’d look around at my life and tell myself, “I can’t get through this.” I had sensory issues that stopped me from doing many usual activities. As well, my skills in school were not the greatest, eventually making me months behind. Every little thing seemed too big of a battle for me. I had been told that God was bigger, but I couldn’t build up the strength to even try to comprehend that. Life felt like a fight to survive.

I’m an optimist because a negative outlook encourages a negative response. If I wake up and think, “today will be an awful day,” the chances of it being a good day tend to drop. A lot of the times when I was overly anxious, I was expecting myself to be overly anxious. Neil Armstrong did not go on the moon by thinking, “this is never going to happen.” He went for it; he did something about it. Humans have the ability to walk on faraway celestial places like he did, but not without a tint of optimism.

Take this quote as inspiration. “Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement; nothing can be done without hope. When our forefathers laid the foundation of the American commonwealths, what nerved them to the task but a vision of free community?” - Hellen Keller; Optimism: An Essay.

I’m an optimist because there’s beauty in so many things. I’m oftentimes surprised by the complexity of trees or the depth of running water. French soda tastes spectacular, and friendships are special. God gives us uncomparable grace. Looking around on an average day, I can find beauty in numerous things.

I’m an optimist because I’m lucky. I am lucky enough to have food on the table, to have a roof over my head, and to have a forgiving savior. That does not mean I have a perfect life, of course. However, looking at the world, I realize all the chances I have that have not been offered to everyone else.

Now, I understand that life still brings its difficulties. Troubles are not cured by saying, “at least I have a roof over my head.” This, however, brings me to the basic metaphor that defines optimism: is the glass half full, or half empty? Understanding the glass as being half full does not mean ignoring the empty parts of the glass, but savoring the water that is still inside.

I’m an optimist because I have been given the most precious gift. I’m an optimist because I have a savior who died for me, who forgave me, who allowed me every reason I possibly have to look at the glass as half full. Did Jesus die so that I can complain, or that I could doubt his plan? Through him, I am able to be an optimist. I am able to rejoice in my sufferings, as Romans 5:3-5 (ESV) says,

“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

Optimism ultimately strengthens our faith. One thing I’ve learned on this journey from hospitals to hope is that with faith - even in the darkest drought - one is able to grow potatoes. Potatoes are like hope. With faith in hope, beautiful chances are grown.

There is still another reason I stand an optimist, but that’s something more personal. It’s because ever since that doubtful day, I have experienced so many amazing things. I’ve started this blog. I’ve become a camp counselor. I’ve grown in my faith. The fifth reason is this: my name is Sage, and I made a mistake. Through the midst of hopeless feelings and darkness, I lost my mind, and made a tried end my life.

And then, I became an optimist.

from the day i became a camp counselor


Sage Allaway.