Tuesday, March 12, 2013

There's a Monster in the Mirror: Self-Pity

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If I am honest with myself, I know there are far too many times in my week when I feel sorry for myself, when I am tempted to sulk and pout for not getting my way, or when I just want to sit stubbornly on my own sour emotions and let them brew. (How's that for honesty?)

And while certainly some situations are made better by a little sympathy or an encouraging word, a LOT of the times I need a kick in the seat of my pants to get over myself and move on to better things. When I get discouraged and tend to focus on how I'm feeling or what I want, the best medicine is not to nurse my own self will, but rather, to crucify it. To present my case before God and truly say, "Thy will be done."

Can you relate? Isn't it easy to get stuck floundering in our own pool of pride and selfishness?

We have so many single people at our church. I don't just mean 20-somethings. I mean 30, 40, and 50-somethings who will most likely never be married or have children. Loneliness is something I hear about on a regular basis from so many of our friends here. Recently, I was realizing that it's not wrong or sinful in the least to feel lonely. In fact, Jesus must have been deeply lonely during His time on earth! But loneliness quickly becomes our downfall when we start feeling sorry for ourself and telling God, "I hate the life You've given me. I wish I was someone else or in a different set of circumstances. I think I know what would make me happy, and I will be miserable with the lot You've set before me until You give me something else."

Maybe that's not exactly what we say to God, but doesn't our refusal to be grateful for wherever we are and whatever God has placed before us communicate our distrust in His goodness and sovereignty? Doesn't pitying ourselves and dwelling on our own hurts, injustices, and problems keep us from seeing Him who suffered more than we will ever know, and yet joyfully endured such things? Oh, that we would always have a willing heart like our Lord to accept whatever cup God placed in our hands!

To close, a quote from missionary Amy Carmichael to challenge us all:
"If I am soft to myself and slide comfortably into self-pity and self-sympathy; If I do not by the grace of God practice fortitude, then I know nothing of Calvary love."

(Previous posts in series: on anxiety and jealousy.)