Do you know why they call preschoolers toddlers? Because they toddle. As they waddle around, for no apparent reason, they trip and then “SMACK!” they crash into the floor. This is followed by loud wails and gasping breaths. At this point, one of two things have happened. The toddler has either hurt themselves and are in need of some first aid or they are not hurt and are only crying because they have startled themselves. Usually a band aid and a kiss on the head will remedy the child that’s truly hurt but it’s amazing how long a startled child can cry when they are not really hurt at all. It makes it much harder to get past the hurt when the child can’t seem to think about anything else.
I’m like that sometimes. Sometimes after getting hurt, I find myself thinking about the event long after the hurt is gone. I’m fine but I don’t want to pass up an opportunity for some good self-pity. You gotta admit, sometimes wallowing around in a nice pool of self-pity can be soothing. You might think things like “I didn’t deserve that.” Or “Who do they think they are?” or even “Why do bad things always have to happen to me?” After all, when bad things happen don’t you deserve a good dose of self-pity?
As a counselor, I have met lots of people that have been mistreated, ignored, neglected and abused. It would be easy for me to give you a list of people that deserve to feel sorry for themselves. But what would self-pity do to their life? Self-pity is the fastest path to self-absorption. I know; I’ve been there. If I’m steeped in self-pity I can’t even think about putting aside my anger because the self-pity fuels it into bitterness and self-righteousness. And forgiveness? Forget that. I can’t think about forgiving someone when I’m so focused on my own hurt. Anger, bitterness, unforgivness, self-righteousness. Even if the most horrible wrong has been done to you, you don’t deserves to live a life coated in self-pity.
So how do you break free from self-pity? The Apostle Paul knew how. Between his ship wrecks, imprisonments and brutal beatings, Paul had lots of opportunity to wallow in self-pity but he considered that a waste. In Philippians 3:8 he says “For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.” Paul lost his safety, his health, his status and his dignity but this was nothing in comparison to what he gained in Christ. You see Paul experienced more than Christ’s salvation; he experienced Christ’s restoration-over and over again. When he was in pain, Christ soothed him. When he was humiliated, Christ lifted him. And when he was frightened, Christ strengthened him. How important is your hardship if you have the abundance of Christ to restore you?
Your hurts are real and immensely painful but restoration does not come from focusing on the hurt. It comes from focusing on the only one that can restore you. Sweet, sweet restoration.