Most of us fall and collapse at the first grip of pain; we sit down on the threshold of God’s purpose and die of self-pity. No sin is worse than the sin of self-pity, because it obliterates God and puts self-interest upon the throne. Oswald Chambers
Christians remind me of schoolboys who want to look up the answer to their math problem in the back of the book rather than work them through. Soren Kierkegaard
The “poor, poor me” person, the one wrapped up in his own small package, gets precious few invitations to parties except the pity parties he throws for himself. He’s consumed only with his own pain and is sick with self. In my own pain I decided early on that I didn’t want the “Victim Virus” to take over my mind and my mouth. Though there might be times to give yourself permission to say to yourself, “You poor thing,” it shouldn’t become a habit. But I was tempted.
I noticed that when I succumbed to victimhood, my progress out of the murky shadows and toward the reality of the light ahead decelerated. “Poor, poor me” kept me stumbling around in the dark.
Jesus asked a lifelong paralytic who waited at the pool for his turn to dip in the supposedly healing waters, “Do you want to get well?” (John 5) When I’m tempted to embrace the victim mentality it’s good for me to ask myself the same question.
“I have no one to help me… someone else always gets there first…” He was accustomed to his condition and had defined himself by his paralysis. “I’m a victim… that’s what I am … you can’t expect anything from me… I can’t do anything about it. I am a paralytic.”
Not much of a life.
From my journal…
I can’t allow myself to be defined by these misfortunes, Lord. I still have choices. They’re pretty limited these days, but I still can “do all things through Christ who strengthens me!” Clear the debris of my disappointments so I can believe that.
“Get up!” Pick up your mat and walk!” Not exactly the tender tone I’d expect from Jesus to a forlorn victim. More like marching orders to a soldier in the field. “Get up, soldier. We’ve got a job to do!” He emphasized what he could do, not what he couldn’t. He didn’t focus on how long he’d been there, how bad his situation was, or whose fault it was. Instead he said, “OK, here you are and here’s what you can do about it. You do your part and I’ll do mine.”
From my journal…
Rather than being defined by my difficulties, I’m going to be refined by them. “…hard pressed on every side but not crushed, perplexed, but not in despair, persecuted, but not abandoned, struck down, but not destroyed”!
Instead of folding up into a fetal position as a hopeless victim I’m going to say, “Yes, Lord, I want to get well. I want to live and serve you with all I have left. If you choose to take me home at this time, then so be it. If you have more suffering to come my way (which, seriously, I can’t even imagine), well, that’s your decision. But with all that’s within me, I’m going to “Get up, take up my mat and walk!”
2 Replies to “Self-pity is not my friend (part one)”
Complaining seems to be a huge part of our culture. We all do it. Thank you, Barney, for reminding us of what it really is (and who Jesus really is and what He says about it).
And with all you’ve been through…you can still write this! What an amazing inspiration you are.