We can find ourselves in a lot of traps as we're going along, trying to live for Christ and trying to act like one of His.
One of the worst is the Self Pity Pit.
I confess, I find myself falling into it when I'm really impatient about something in my life or really frustrated. But honestly, there's not much point to it.
Instead, self pity is guaranteed to make you even more worse off than you were.
And we can find ourselves "indulging" in it over the most ridiculous things.
Let me give you a very recent example.
After a series of health issues, I started on an elimination diet to see if I could pin point what is making me ill.
For those of you who don't know what one is, it's basically where you take certain foods out of your diet for an extended period of time (usually 3-4 weeks). After that, you add one food in at a time for a day or so and see whether it causes a reaction.
In other words, it's horrible (whoops, see what I mean? Self pity pops up where you least expect it).
So right now I can't eat 6 different foods, or a lot of sugar (fruit excluded), including gluten and dairy.
(sniff, bye mac 'n cheese)
The first few days were hard, but after a while it started getting easier, and after about ten days my stomach troubles started to clear up.
Then came last weekend.
My grandparents came for a visit.
There's an old family recipe for cinnamon rolls, which my grandfather actually copied down from his grandmother (who probably threw him out of the kitchen after he made her measure every single ingredient for these rolls, she was a throw-it-together-and-see-what-happens kind of woman). Since they are his favorite, and he doesn't get them very often, my mom makes them for him almost every time he comes to visit.
Of course, we're talking Pennsylvania-Dutch cinnamon rolls. Full of things like butter and brown sugar, and of course heaps of cinnamon.
They're kind of my favorite too.
And I helped make them, but couldn't eat a single one.
(toot! toot! all aboard the self pity express!)
Of course, it was super hard not to have one while everyone else indulged. I think I practically dove into the pit that weekend. But I've come to realize 4 very good reasons to blow up that train as soon as it starts pulling in the station:
1. It doesn't solve your problem
I don't know about you, but sitting around having a pity party for myself never helped me out of my situation. It certainly didn't help me last weekend. I didn't get a cinnamon roll. I didn't get to the point where I didn't want one either. I wanted something I couldn't have the entire weekend.
2. It doesn't make you feel better.
Self pity is like chocolate cake (or cinnamon rolls). You eat a little bit, and it tastes
sweet. But as you eat more and more, you only feel worse and worse.And not even a single crumb is really good for you.
I didn't feel better about myself wanting those cinnamon rolls. I didn't feel better about how I felt not eating them. I didn't feel better about anything going on that weekend.
3. It causes you to forget what's going good in your life.
My stomach was feeling better, not cramping anymore or giving me trouble. And yet I was so miserable about the fact that I couldn't eat a cinnamon roll that I totally overlooked the fact that I could actually eat without feeling sick.
When we fall into self pity, we don't see the good things in our life any more. We're so focused on the fact that we don't have a full-time job or that our sister took the last apple, that we overlook the part-time job that pays pretty well, or the two oranges that were sitting right next to the apple.
4. It causes you to doubt God.
Self pity and trust in God are like oil and water, impossible to mix. Because if we really trusted that God had our best in mind, that our all-knowing, loving, merciful Father was working out each little detail of our lives to our good, that He has carefully crafted for each one of us a future in this life and riches untold in His presence forever in Heaven, why would we pity ourselves?
God was helping me figure out how to heal my body, which He designed so intricately and remarkably that nothing man has made comes even close to matching what a few cells can do, and here I was upset because I couldn't eat a piece of sugary dough.
Even though my situation may seem a little ridiculous, the reality is self pity is ridiculous in any situation. It is one thing to be sad (I am not telling you that if your cat dies you are not allowed to cry), but self pity goes beyond that, where we start feeling as if the world is out to get us, and woe-is-me-that-I'm-in-such-a-position.
The truth is, things don't always go our way, and sometimes they can be downright tragic. It could be something as "little" as my diet restrictions, or something as heart-wrenching as your boyfriend breaking up with you. It's tough, it's terrible, but wallowing in self pity about it doesn't do us any good. We'll be sad, but we can't let ourselves get caught into feeling sorry for ourselves.
The cinnamon rolls are about gone. I'm trying not to give into self pity, but it's hard. We have to constantly be on our guards against it. I feel like it's one of Satan's favorite little tricks, because once he has gotten us to doubt God, it's so easy for us turn our back to Him.
So stay strong. Resist the urge. Stay away from self-pity and stick close to God. After all, He's going to work it out for your best anyway.