Silencing My Inner Cynic

Woman rolling her eyes

Last year I discovered a new morning radio program during my hour-long commute to work. It’s a nationally-syndicated show in country radio called “The Bobby Bones Show.” It’s basically a group of friends, most of whom had no prior radio experience, chatting about current events, interviewing artists, and doing silly contests and competitions. It’s purposefully family-friendly, and it sits opposite many of the “shock-jock” type of morning programs. The host, Bobby Bones, keeps the show positive and funny without being mean. In fact, as a wanna-be musician with admittedly little talent, he formed a parody band and donates all their concert proceeds to charity. The show resonates with me (and millions of other listeners) because it could be me and my friends if someone gave us some microphones and three hours to fill.

Part of the show’s appeal comes from the hosts: they are vulnerable, funny, good-natured, and most definitely not cynical. Especially with the current political season, it’s a refreshing change to hear positive news on the radio. I’ve become invested in the lives of real people who don’t seem all that different from me.

The interesting thing is that a few years ago, I would not have been a fan. I would have thought the show was too squeaky clean and not sarcastic or cynical enough to be funny. In my own life, I had allowed cynicism and a critical spirit to grow, and it wasn’t healthy. It had become my primary defense for wounds that I didn’t want to admit were painful. If someone made a comment about my singleness that was hurtful, I turned it into a sarcastic joke. If I was dealing with a difficult assignment at work, I hid my shaky self-confidence underneath a layer of cynicism directed at the industry. I noticed that many of my friends were the same way.

Cynicism is easy though. It’s cheap and quick and plentiful. But vulnerability? That’s much more costly—and valuable. Instead of being honest about the painful parts of my life, I was self-medicating through with a critical and cynical worldview. It was easier than admitting I had wounds I needed God to heal. I functioned this way for years until I saw that same cynicism exaggerated in a guy I dated, and I realized how destructive a cynical spirit could be. I want to be vulnerable and tender, not hard-hearted or critical.

It wasn’t an easy process, and seeing a counselor was part of dealing with the painful wounds in my life as we found ways to heal apart from cynicism. When I struggle with returning to my former ways, I remember the admonition in Ephesians 4:29: “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” And when that Scripture doesn’t keep me in check, I listen to “The Bobby Bones Show” and laugh along with my morning drive friends.

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