Self-pity and power.
They can not coexist.
One naturally devours the other. Self-pity devours power. Power devours self-pity.
And it seems like a daily choice that adds up over time, more than one big ceremonial decision that changes everything all at once.
Some days I feel the power of God on my life, increasing, swelling, calling, inviting. And on those days, it is the obvious choice. On those days, I choose power.
Power devours self-pity.
And it feels big. It usually feels really good for a minute. And then, sometimes, scary. Like a heavy weapon, it would be easy to lay it down.
And some days, I do lay it down. Some days, I choose pitiful.
I don’t mean to do it. I don’t usually even realize I’m doing it.
Well, maybe I realize it a little bit.
Self-pity and power can not coexist.
I remember one day crying in the bathroom in college, undoubtedly over some terrible hardship, aka, some drama that I had singlehandedly created. I was good at that.
I remember watching my mascara run, watercolor black tracks dripping down my cheeks.
It wasn’t until I heard Joyce Meyer talk about doing the same thing many years later that I realized how much self-pity loves to creep in and celebrate itself. How I wasn’t the only one that took some sick enjoyment from digging eye drops out of my purse and patting my puffy face, gently, with concealer, but in a hurry, like actresses huffing through soap operas, as if I had somewhere I needed to go.
At the time of her story, Joyce’s ministry was just taking off, and she was crying her way through some struggle.
In front of a mirror.
Because, as she says, women (and men) in a certain mood love to watch themselves cry to see just how pitiful they really can be.
Self-pity loves to creep in and celebrate itself.
Ouch. Déja vu.
And at that moment, she heard in her spirit, “You can’t be pitiful and powerful.”
You have to choose.
I was taken advantage of very young. I was forced to do things that I went along with because the culture seemed to reward it. I was bullied at school, by teachers and students. I grew up in American poverty. I remember running out of food. I remember no heat in the winter. I didn’t have the advantages that many around me had. I was embarrassed a lot. I was ashamed a lot. I felt self-hatred a lot. I was attacked in college, but I would have gladly pretended it didn’t happen. I was so embarrassed by it that I was already dismissing it until I realized my hair was coming out in clumps, and I was bleeding.
And as an adult, I have felt that, many times, as soon as I won one battle, another came in to take its place. My marriage was a disaster until we got it figured out, and about the time we did, I got desperately sick.
One battle after another.
And through it all, my emotions were a pendulum, swinging back and forth. Pitiful. Powerful. Pitiful. Powerful.
You have to choose.
I had days when I felt like fighting.
But for a while, I had more days when I thought about things from the past. Why did they happen the way that they did? What was wrong with me? Why did God bless everyone but me? On and on.
And the more I wallowed, the old pitiful feelings came on stronger and stronger. I didn’t know what deliverance was, but I knew that there were people around me who did life better than I did. I went to them for their thoughts about my situation. I paid for counseling when I didn’t have the money because I didn’t know what else to do. Talking to wise people was my way of not giving up at the time. It was the way that I knew how to fight.
I’m thankful to those who listened for hours, who shared their stories, who encouraged me, and held me accountable.
Fighting for life doesn’t always look like choosing ultimate victory, whatever that is.
Fighting to choose life when you are in a pit is in the little things. Choosing to open your eyes in the morning. Choosing to get out of bed. Choosing to force a smile for your children. Choosing to call someone who can help. That’s what I did.
I was seeking.
And in the seeking, I got some of the best advice from a counselor that I’ve ever gotten:
Press into scripture. Find the scriptures that speak to your worst problem, and write them down. Say them out loud every day, three times a day. Focus on God’s peace, when it comes, when it goes. And then follow that peace wherever it leads.
So, I did it. I read the Bible. I copied scriptures. I read them out loud. It took time, but my life changed.
Fighting to choose life is in the little things.
I still have to choose life daily. It looks different now. It was not easy in the beginning, but it has gotten easier over time.
I don’t cry in the bathroom mirror anymore. I don’t miss it. I’m thankful for the life that God provided for me. I’m thankful that He helped me choose it.
I’m thankful for the people He put around me that challenged me with their beautiful lives. I’m thankful that they invited me to join them.
You never know who is watching you live well. You have the power to help another person choose life for themselves. Don’t be discouraged. Don’t give up. Don’t quit.
Keep choosing power.
You are showing others how it is done.
I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life. Deut 30:19b
You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. Matt 5:14-15