Monday, December 14, 2015

on self-pity

If I wanted to make you feel sorry for me this week, I think I could be fairly successful in evoking that emotion.  It just hasn't been the easiest season around here.  The list is long.  I hear that water tanker just now outside my apartment. It is delivering my daily 2 hours of running water and echoing in the affirmative.

But then, it could always be longer.  Much, much longer.

I find myself, at times throughout the day, counting the ways things are going wrong.  Last night, when that very fussy, sick baby spit up all over me, and the bottle wasn't washed (because lack of running water impedes a tidy kitchen). Not to mention that Jude and I had undertake a gingerbread house project that quickly got out of hand. There was no shower to be had until I could heat a bucket up, Silas was slicing something with a sword, Jude was yanking pillows off couches to build a good fort, gingerbread houses cast aside, and....

Sometimes I just want to sit down in a pile on the floor and have a good pity party.

I think you know what I mean.

But I cannot escape the verse echoing in the back of my mind at every turn, "In all things, give thanks."

In all things.

Self-pity and grumbling aren't just the natural response to a hectic season or various trials. They are sin. That tendency within me to want to pull up a long seat at the table of what-isn't-working-out-in-my-life is a dangerous, destructive desire that will lead to all kinds of trouble.

And the more I consider it, giving thanks isn't just a discipline of my mind and heart, it's an act of faith.  It is a choice to believe what I don't particularly see at the moment.

All I see is spit up but I choose to give thanks to God for the spit up, believing it is providentially good for me to be in spit up right at that moment.  It's working something I don't see, and so I can give thanks for what I do see (spit up and a dirty kitchen) and the good I am promised it is working. I read this beautiful quote in my advent reading over the weekend.  I wish I could write it on the back of my eyeballs.

"Joys are always on their way to us. They are always traveling to us through the darkness of the night.  There's never a night when they are not coming."  - Amy Carmichael

The more I give thanks, the more thankful I am.  The more I expect joy, the more I find it springing up. Self-pity steals even what is before me. There's rarely just spit up, there were gingerbread houses and sweet babies as well.

It is the season, this one with the tiny babe born in a manger, for hope.  I will choose hope.