Aunt Dani had to slip this darling picture of Kate in here. It is just too appropriate for the title.
I had such a pity party recently. It's embarrassing and humbling to admit. There's something repulsive about a person who chooses to wallow in self pity.
I've felt so very isolated while I've been here in Massachusetts. Undoubtedly, it's the most "alone" I've ever been. I have desperately missed my family and friends, as well as other things I never really thought a lot about. I miss kind, meaningful interaction with people who care about me instead of just dutiful strangers trying to be polite.
I think that with Thanksgiving next week, and knowing that both Scott and his family and Nate are home, the feelings of longing are exacerbated. Oh, how I can easily picture the warm glow of our living room in the evening with my family and Gramps sitting around laughing their heads off while my nieces and nephews fill the house with noise and joy. I LONG to be a part of that!
There are other things, too, that have been heavy on my mind and heart and I have been mulling them over like a cow chewing her cud. (Appealing word picture, I know.) They've been making me miserable and I've been letting them. Granted, they are heavy things; heavier even than the homesickness and loneliness I mentioned above.
Very valid things to be miserable about....right?
Things that deserved to have a pity party thrown in honor of them...right?
Enter the very loving kick-in-the-pants my Father gave me a few nights ago. It abruptly ended the party. It came in three different forms: my sister, my mother, and Miss Elisabeth's journals.
First, my sister.
Long story and I won't go into that one. :)
But then my mom. I called home in tears, and could hardly get the words out to my dad because I was crying so piteously. He must have told my mom, because later that night I got an email from her. It was not a "Oh My Poor Babyyyy!" letter. (Mom rarely writes those- one of the things about her that I am grateful for!) It was a letter about choosing joy. And she reminded me of the many men and women of the faith to whom God has given very, very hard lives, and who have thrived under them: maintained their joy, maintained their usefulness, and glorified God in dungeons and on death row, even. My heart was stabbed. I had been given a good dose of perspective.
Dose #2 came in the form of Miss Elisabeth's journal from 1958, which I've been reading. What an honor to read her journals. It's been an unbelievable experience for me. The particular section I was reading in the other night was from December and January, exactly two years after Jim had been martyred. She and Valerie were alone, at this time, with Quichua Indians in the jungle. These parts of her journal overwhelmed me:
"Today I suddenly thought what [a] hag I must look...! I would not think of going this way were there a SINGLE SOUL who 'd notice it. But there's not. Days go by now without my hearing one word of English except Valerie's! and what has all this taught me? 'The things which are not seen are eternal.' I thought I knew this and practiced on it before. But I have been stripped of even more lately- things others could never recognize. God knows...and He says to me, 'Lovest thou Me more than these?' And I answer, 'Thou knowest all things- Though knowest that I love Thee. Though knowest no OTHER motive could suffice.'"'Valerie has amoeba, hookworm, and another parasite I never heard of. Poor little girl- and lonely already. Wanting 'the kids' to play with. Things are dirty, mouldy, messy- and I long for neaness, cleanliness, nice clothes, nice things for Val, and , in short- I wonder if I CAN keep on living like this. Well, I need not wonder. MY FATHER knows whether I can, and He's in charge.""It is a further trial not to be able to communicate with these [people]: to realize vaguely that they are put out with me for some reason I don't understand; to want to help them keep occupied and to be rebuffed; to feed them things I think they'll enjoy and have them explode with 'bah!' and spit on the floor. Lord, you'll have to LOVE them for me, through me.""Lord, I 'm here because I believe Thou hast put me here. I didn't seek it. So let Thy whole purpose be fulfilled. I want to say again that I love, trust, praise. Forgive my self-pity, unbelief."
Oh, my. The shame I felt after reading those portions. I suddenly remembered: self pity is a sin and it is a CHOICE. It is the choice to arrogantly fix my eyes on my desires which are not being met, rather than rejoicing in the fact that GOD is working his will through each situation in my life. It is the deliberate choice not to trust. The mindset that my comfort is of a higher priority than my holiness. The decision that God is not enough for me. He alone can not bring me joy. My joy is dependent on outward circumstances. Elisabeth's journals reminded me of that. If you were to measure suffering by degrees, mine wouldn't even register on the thermometer compared to hers. God doesn't measure though; He just asks us to find PEACE in ACCEPTANCE in each of our differing circumstances.
I felt God gently, persistently leading me to a place where I was faced with only one choice, a HARD choice:
Jesus had unceremoniously crashed my pity party. I realized then that I had allowed self pity (or perhaps the better term is 'self obsession') to grip me to such an extent that before I could even desire to pry it's fingers off, I had to ask the Lord to help me. *Sigh!*
Yesterday I went out to lunch with my blessing, Melody. She is the friend God has given me in Massachusetts; my neighbor who I love so dearly! And would you believe it, she began to share with me that God was teaching her some lessons about-- you guessed it-- self pity. She has a loved one who is making some terribly destructive, devastating choices and she has been tempted to allow the pain of it to wear her down. God raised her up, though, with the truth that "In Acceptance Lieth Peace." He eyes sparkled with joy as she spoke of relinquishing her loved one to Christ and accepting His peace rather than obsessing about her pain. I smiled with her because my own heart mirrored her joy! I was feeling with her that relief that comes in accepting His will and letting mine disintegrate.
Whew! It feels good.
I encourage you that whatever the burdens on your heart might be, no matter how "valid" they may feel, they are not an excuse to allow your peace to be disturbed or your joy to be robbed. Cast your burdens on the Lord, and He will sustain you. He never meant for you to carry these loads and it is foolish pride to think you can.
So, the party's over. Let Thanksgiving BEGIN!