Self pity is the most wretched trap that a human being can fall into. And I should know because it has chased me off and on for my entire adult life. Self pity is essentially being self-centered instead of other-centered. It’s always asking the question “why me?”….as though the world owes me a peachy keen life. It mostly manifests itself in depression and anxiety. Jesus said that in this world we will have trouble. Why are Christians (particularly in the western church) so surprised when adversity comes our way? When life gets hard? When the road on which we walk is full of pot holes and rocks and mud? We think God owes us a perfect life for being a Christian and going to church and teaching Sunday school. It’s why so many leave the church disillusioned. Their unrealistic expectations of a perfectly blessed life according to our first world standards leaves many doubting the existence of God. (I’m just being real.). Look at the apostle Paul’s life. Good grief…very few of us would have kept moving forward into our call if we had been Paul. Let’s just be honest. Shipwrecked, jailed, beaten, starved…obstacles the likes of which none of us will ever face. But Paul knew the One who called him. He knew the One who walked alongside him thru it all. Paul was not focused on himself. It seems that Paul was able to resist the temptation to fall into self-pity when the you-know-what hit the fan in his life. And it’s because he had come face to face with the risen Jesus…which we can all experience too…in a very real and tangible way. We just have to give Him some of our time and acknowledge His presence. We act like He is not even in the room most of the time.
When Jesus told us we would have trouble in this life he also said that we should not fear…that He has overcome the world. This isn’t a promise of a peachy keen life…it’s a promise that ultimately this fallen world will not win…there is another life awaiting us…the perfect peachy keen one that was found in the beginning. In the garden. Even though our earthly life will be full of challenges, heartbreak, disappointment…we are never walking through it alone. This is not religious talk…it’s reality at its core. We are not alone. Life becomes a gift when we are able to stop playing church and getting all religious with Christian platitudes that do not comfort and we learn how to know our Creator, the invisible Spirit who is real, who took on human flesh in order to show us how to know Him, how to live, how to find joy and peace and love in the middle of this mixed up crazy world in which we live. Then…life becomes an adventure for us. Paul said that he would much rather depart this earth and start living his peachy keen life…but he recognized the call on his earthly life was not finished and he willingly submitted his life to the ministry to which he was called and no obstacle would keep him from that which was the will of God. He would not give in to self-pity when the road got rough. I used to think that only certain personality types could be strong enough to resist self-pity. But now I know it has more to do with knowing to whom you belong, the purposes of your life for the sake of God’s kingdom here on earth and realizing we are all just passing through on our way to a peachy keen life of eternal bliss in the presence of The Lord. It’s an adventure to be lived…not one big long trial to be endured. It can be full of joy and peace if your perspective is centered on Jesus and what His life and death and resurrection achieved for us. It’s all about perspective, which can come and then just as quickly disappear. Lord, let me always remember Jesus when I look at my life.
Wow…didn’t mean to preach but I guess it was a good rabbit hole to go down. It’s what I’ve been thinking about. All that to say that yesterday afternoon after my appointment with the oncologist I was tempted to fall into self-pity. But after giving myself time to process a bit I was able to resist. After surgery last week to remove a foot long section of my colon, I have been declared cancer free. The pathology report showed no cancer in the lymph nodes. I’m am thankful for this very good report and thankful for all the friends who helped me through the surgery. You know who you are. However, the report I was hoping not to hear was that I was diagnosed at stage two. Had it been stage one I could have just continued on with my life…no further treatment needed. But…this is not to be my journey. At stage two…because the cancer was a bit further along, they assess the chances of the cancer returning within a three year period by doing some genetics testing on the tumor itself. This test gives a score between 1-100. The higher the score, the more aggressive the chemo treatment. This is all just a preventative measure and the doctor kept reminding me that I was cancer free. If the risk is lower, I will do a pill form of chemo over a six month period which can be done while in Uganda. If I should need the more aggressive form, it would be intravenously administered and would delay my departure to Uganda by six months. The test results will take 7-10 days. Upon hearing all this, self-pity knocked at my door and I answered it and invited it in for a few hours and then I kicked it out. I’m CANCER FREE! This doesn’t even come close to being a so-called ligitimate excuse for self-pity. And if a little chemo is God’s way of prolonging my life…then I will walk through it and try not to complain. There are others fighting for their lives and I’ve been pronounced cancer free! Plus, I know I’m not alone. I am certain of the call on my life and if the peachy keen life is still a ways off for me, I will gladly submit to the process of having this obstacle fully removed for the sake of whatever awaits me in Uganda. It’s in His hands. Peace has come again.
I’m so grateful for all your prayers. Keep it up. I’ll post again when I get the genetics test result.
Onward and upward!