Tuesday, January 29, 2008

No Pity

Its been said (and I would agree that its true), that how you react to disappointing news or a major interruption of a schedule reveals much about your character. That may sound rather obvious, but on the flip side to that, some folks will say you are entitled to feel however you're feeling - and simply dismiss it as that. You have the right to be angry, disappointed or frustrated.

I'm not so sure I'd be quick to agree with that. While you may feel angry, disappointed or upset, and while all of us do experience that in certain circumstances, do you or I actually have a "right" to feel like that? That's a question that can only be answered based on your understanding of God's sovereignty and your place in it. Maybe some questions to ask yourself would be a short list such as:

Is God in complete control of all situations?
Do I trust Him completely?
Were my plans so important that I can't adapt to sudden changes?

I think how we answer those questions will go a long way toward helping us not get angry, upset or disappointed when things come along we didn't expect.

I was talking to a friend recently and the term "pity party" came up. If there is one thing I loathe about myself is the tendency to throw my own pity parties. What's even worse, if possible, is hearing from someone else that I need to stop feeling sorry for myself. Its bad enough to feel that conviction myself but when someone else notices my self-pity it's even more crushing. Another friend recently commented that she so detests this about herself that when she feels like she's headed toward self pity she wants to scratch her own eyes out. I had to laugh when she said that, but I completely understood what she meant. It's a revolting feeling to suddenly realize you were just sitting there lamenting over "poor me", especially when God has blessed you with SO much.

I don't know about anyone else, but for me this whole area of self-pity is really a struggle. This idea that "no one really cares anyway" pops up from time to time and tends to feed the "I don't know why I bother, it's a waste of time" idea, and the two go riding happily off into the sunset of my thoughts and I have to duke it out with them. I hate it, and sometimes I don't have victory over the whole mess right away. Sometimes it lingers long enough that it comes out in my mood when I'm talking to someone and they notice that something isn't quite right with me. I'm a horrible faker so I can't even pretend that I'm "okay" when I'm not, so folks tend to pick up on things like that with me. That's when it's the most humiliating, when other people notice the self-pity. I already know it shouldn't be there but to let it come out for others to see is just an awful feeling.

The irony is, is that I do indeed believe in the absolute and complete sovereignty of God in all things. From the great big things like salvation and eternity, to the wee little things like that mysterious check that came in the mail for $100.00 two days before the electric bill arrived and it was $100.00 (exactly) over what I was expecting. I know for a fact, as much as I know I'm sitting right here in my chair, that God's sovereign hand was all over me and my van last week in my accident - sparing me from serious injury and/or anyone else being hit or injured. I also know in just as much of a factual way that my first husband's terminal cancer was also something completely in God's hand, and that it was His way of driving us both to our knees, attending a local church and hearing the gospel. God's control and orchestration of events in our lives isn't always pleasant, but it IS always constant, and it IS always for the best (even if we don't see it right away).

Part of my arsenal in the battle against self-pity, is remembering (along with prayer, and honest friends and loved ones that aren't afraid to say "Carla, get over yourself" because they love me and don't want me wallowing in icky places). Dates, places, events and various circumstances where God's blessing was so obvious that even a blind man couldn't miss it. It's impossible to continue to feel sorry for myself when I begin to recall His providence because once I start considering it, I see it in EVERY area of my life, from the little things, to the big things, and the private things that only He and I know about. My very existance is saturated with the reality of God's providence. You can't feel sorry for yourself when you come to that realization.

I'm glad that God blessed me with a good memory, so that I can remember His providence, and His blessings all through my life, especially when I'm coming up against a "poor me" moment.

The added bonus is, with a good memory for this, I don't have to scratch out my own eyes. That would really hurt.