“Self Pity is our worst enemy and if we yield to it, we can never do anything wise in this world.” Helen Keller
I saw the phone call and I felt a sinking feeling in my gut.
The phone call was regarding an answer about a job teaching at a high school I really wanted. I saw the Caller ID and instead of picking it up–I let it ring.
I waited full tilt to read and listen to the voicemail confirming my fear.
“Hi Tory…to follow up on our interview unfortunately we have decided to go with a different candidate for the position…we really enjoyed meeting you and it was really a tough decision…I want to wish you the best of luck…”
Luck? How is luck going to pay my bills?
At that moment, I felt all the luck could not help me. All the waiting, praying, and work I have performed gathering reference letters, revising interview Zoom videos during this dry, desert season had become a waste. My mind drummed up several different questions and fears.
- How am I going to pay my bills this year? Where will I work?
- What about the promises you made me Lord?
My deepest fear lurching around the corner was that I would have to slink back to former employers at schools I felt utter resentment toward. If any of you follow, my blog, then you know the laborious challenges I faced teaching at a school with a debilitating school climate and culture. I did not want to work in another school environment deeply deprived of any academic standards and rigor, expectations, racist coworkers and inadequate administration. The severity I faced at this school was the greatest I have ever seen and truth be told, COVID 19 was a trial but also gave me room to breathe and remember how I loved teaching.
But how can I teach if there was no somewhat decent school that would take my application?
Feeling the temptation to fall into the trap of self pity, I had and have two options, either to collapse in my bed and make a monster out of God or commit my mind and will to praising Him throughout this day.
Therein, I choose the latter. All this year, and last year I felt “sorry for myself” and what I did not have and where I was not in my life as a 27 year old, black woman living with my parents. Self pity clung to me like a shadow. It came in waves, some days, my spiritual game was great. I was up by ten points, other days it was in the lead by double. Regularly, Jesus told me throughout this very tough school year “to fixate my mind on Him,” “praise Him,” “embrace my identity in Christ” and I cannot say I won every battle or fought every fight earnestly.
But what I can say is I learned invaluable lessons and sharpened.
The art of self pity is the art of walking with your feet stuck in cement blocks; you’re not going anywhere.
Self pity restricts your vision. There is no way out.
Self pity puts all the blame on God and everyone else, eliminating your responsibility.
Self pity darkens your thought life.
Although I do feel upset about losing the opportunity of working at this great school I am trusting God’s plan for my life and believing He will fulfill all His promises to me. God sees the bigger picture. He ordained the day I was to be born and the day I will die. God has pre ordered all of my steps to fit into His higher purposes, therefore He picked out the schools I needed to teach at; He predetermined what adversities and challenges I need to endure to become a stronger and more effective believer.
Numbers 23:19 says, “God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?” I can confidently trust God. The scripture reminds me God is not a man, but He is God. God is the Great I Am. God is not limited or held by the conventions of mankind. God is above it. God is the Deity and when God makes a promise it shall always come to pass in His time. God has infallible character. His record is spotless.
If God was a man, then He would have to apologize or ask for forgiveness for breaking promises or lying? Has God ever apologized or given an explanation of His actions?
All of God’s actions are perfect. They reflect His perfect and holy nature. Since, none of my circumstances are making sense, I present the way I feel to God. I shall be honest about my discouragement but I will not succumb to despair and bitterness. For far too long, in my adolescence when life did not go my way, I was ready to ignore and declare God’s goodness a lie. In my heart, I would delight in self pity and misery, because it felt good to feel bad about myself and think how much better my life would be if I was in control.
Instead of evaluating where I made mistakes and where I cherished sins instead of repenting from them, it was much easier to say the situation was all of God’s fault and not change my behavior. Self pity makes a monster out of God. It renders the consistent love and care He shows us faithfully to be a joke in our eyes, declaring His grace is not enough to sustain us, during tough circumstances. We withhold our thankfulness and gratitude in an effort to swindle God or punish Him for not giving us our way.
Self pity reveals the fools we are and our even more foolish ways of thinking. “I do not know why this is happening to me. But God if you did this, then this would not have happened…” Yeah I have been there and this thought process has gained me heartbreak and tears and victimizing myself. In all contexts I was the victim, so I never learned the power of becoming a victor. An overcomer through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Finally, self pity fences your spiritual growth. To be a mature, seasoned believer in Christ, it requires an adaptable humble attitude, enabling him or her to thank God and exude joy even during the most difficult, heartbreaking seasons. This perspective is not birthed overnight. It is a long arduous process, quite the contrary to the “I-deserve” or “woe is me” attitude.
Self pity reeks of entitlement.
“To fear the LORD is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech.” (Proverbs 8:13)
So, heaven’s preferred response is praise and gratitude sprouting forth from the mouth and heart. For what light can Jesus truly shine upon a face solely self centered and shrouded in darkness.
Copyright © 2020 by A Meeting at the Well