The Lies of Self-Pity

ahhhSelf-pity. 

Some days I feel like I’ve mastered it.

It’s true.

I get stuck in this crazy idea that things in my life “aren’t fair”. That I don’t “deserve this”. That surely God has “made a mistake”.


If you’ve followed my blog for any amount of time, you know that I’m a planner.

A good plan has this disgusting way of making my heart beat differently.

So when my husband called me during the end of his deployment last fall, and asked, “When would be the best time for me to attend a required 6-week course in Alabama”? (I first, laughed, because what wife actually has a quick answer to a good time their spouse should spend 6 weeks away from them? — especially when they are currently spending 6 months away from them?!?!), and second, I immediately started weighing the pros & cons.

He had 3 options: the 6 weeks following his return home (UM, thanks but NO THANKS), 6 weeks in the spring (almost immediately after moving to Germany) (yeahhh… that won’t work either), or 6 weeks in the summer (our 1st summer in Germany)…

Clearly, none were ideal. I mean, who actually wants to make decisions like this?!

But in true military fashion, he needed to submit his answer quickly, so we talked about (notice I didn’t say prayed), and decided summer was the best of the 3.

My planner brain was convinced that although we wouldn’t want to miss out on our first summer living in Europe together, it would be better than him leaving while we were still settling in.


Soon after this decision was submitted and confirmed, I was asked to be a bridesmaid in a summer wedding (in Georgia), and both of William’s sisters announced they were expecting babies in the summer (in Alabama and Georgia).

Naturally, I said YES! to being in the wedding, and we quickly decided it made a lot of sense for me to just go ‘home’ for the same 6 weeks as he would be attending this course.

We figured I would stay with my family, in Georgia, but be able to see each other on the weekends. Not to mention, both be able to attend this good friend’s wedding, and both be able to meet our TWO new nieces.

This plan was really starting to lean in our favor. 

So I bought a ticket home, feeling very excited about “beating the system” and not having to spend much time apart after all.


Fast forward 3 months later (2 weeks before we are flying home together for the summer).

William and I are driving to the Netherlands (rough, I know) and I’m shuffling through potential road trip songs on his iPhone.

A new iMessage pops up. It’s from his co-worker. It reads:

“Bad news… The class you were scheduled for has been completely cancelled. 

Good news… The late summer and fall slots are not full yet. Which would you prefer?”

My eyes grew double in size. My heart stopped. I couldn’t get words out of my mouth fast enough…

Ww.. Waa.. Waa-Will.. Wa-Will-iam!!! You just got a text… Your class has been cancelled!!!” 

“What do you mean??!”, he abruptly responds.

“____ just texted you! Look!! It’s cancelled!!! You have to attend a later one!!“. I burst into tears.


As you can imagine, our weekend in the Netherlands looked different than we had imagined. I’m pretty sure I could draw you a map of all the places I ugly cried walking around Amsterdam.

“This isn’t fair”.

(Those words leave my mouth more than I care to admit.)

I wouldn’t say the not-so-glamorous news of the future completelyyy ruined our present weekend, but it came pretty darn close.

William did his best to console me, praying over us, and trying to figure out how to fix this ‘mess’.


I on the other hand… wanted answers. Doesn’t the Air Force know not to mess with a woman and a well-made plan!?

I think I felt like if I knew the reasoning behind it all, I would feel better. Like, if someone told me that the lead instructor was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, or the main building had burned down overnight, then I would be okay. I could then easily wipe the tears and pull up my big girl panties.

But that wasn’t the case. (And honestly, how much would it actually have helped my sinful heart?)

Turns out, the course was cancelled because they decided it needed some revamping and that 6 weeks wasn’t actually enough for the amount of material they needed to cover.

“They really decided this TWO weeks before?!!?”, I’m screaming now. “They couldn’t just honor the people already signed up, and make changes for the next one?!” … “What about all the families that have made plans for this?! Do they not care?!!” … “Ughhh, this isn’t fair!!”.

There’s those favorite words again.


I just couldn’t shake it. My ‘perfect plans’ were out the window and there was nothing I could do about it. (Have you noticed the theme of my heart?)

Now we were back to square one. Trying to decide when was the best time to spend, now SEVEN, weeks apart (because the decision we had made 9 months ago no longer mattered). Sadly, our whole “beating the system” … had just beat us.

So William was now signed up for the late summer course. Which meant he would leave very soon after I returned. Of course, everyone and their mother’s first question was, “Why don’t you just swap your flights as well?”

But it wasn’t that easy. I had commitments. A couple of weddings to attend, meeting and helping with newborns, even a few babysitting jobs. Not to mention, I had been anticipating this for months now. I was looking forward to going home.


Fast forward to now.

I did in fact go home for the summer and it was good and hard and fun and exhausting all at the same time. Near the end, William actually decided to take a week off work, splurged on a ticket, and came to visit my last week there. As we had hoped, both of our nieces were born that week, and we got to spend quality time with both of our families, before flying back together.

Then we only had a few sacred days back home together before he was off again.

I cried the entire way home from dropping him off at the airport that day. The ‘unfairness’ was slowly hitting me again.

It had been over 2 months since the unexpected shake up — but here I was still letting it shake me.

Sure, it stinks. I’m never going to pretend that spending any amount of time away from my husband is enjoyable. Especially when you’re essentially swapping places.


But what’s concerning is that the sovereignty of God isn’t a new concept to me. So why do I sometimes act like it I’ve never even heard of this man I claim to fully trust in?

I know all the ‘right things’ in these moments. I know exactly what to think and believe when the lies of self-pity come to attack…

God is in control.

God has a plan.

God never forgets me.

God gives us trials to test our faith.

Trials are good for me.

This is so small in comparison to other people’s trials.

This is SO small in sight of ETERNITY.

God loves me dearly.

I know these things. I really do.

So what’s my problem then?

 

I’m not great at living according to what I know. 

Instead, I allow self-pity to win. And I question what I know to be true.

I’m not proud of this. The Lord didn’t call me to this.

 

I also don’t think I’m alone in this.

Maybe like me, you’re quick to say, “Butttt….” or “this isn’t fair” or just shout over and over again, “WHY?!“.

But the harsh reality is, it doesn’t have to be fair.

We don’t deserve anything from God.      Not. A. Thing. 

He created us and every breath he gives us after is just Grace


Ouch. 

That stings doesn’t it?

I was reminded of this truth earlier this week while listening to a podcast on James.

The book of James teaches us how we as Christians are called to face trials (big or small) and that God’s word is the ONLY thing that can prepare us for these trials.

(Can we just all agree we need to spend more time in James?)

So I fall on my knees, again.

Lord, 

I need you. I’m nothing without you. Help me to live like it. To believe it.

Help me to KNOW the things I know. Forgive me for thinking I know better. For thinking I don’t need your word daily. 

For it’s YOUR Gospel that my self-pitying soul finds freedom.

Thank you for never losing sight of lost sheep like me. THANK YOU for dying for rotten sinners like me. 

I want to know you deeper. I want to grow in spiritual maturity. Guard my heart and mind from the things that distract me. 

I want to fully trust your sovereignty, goodness, provision, and PLANS. Guide me, Father… I can’t do this on my own.

Amen.

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“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to.” James 1:12

 

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