4 The weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood]. Our weapons are divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. 5 We are destroying sophisticated arguments and every exalted and proud thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought and purpose captive to the obedience of Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:4-5
What is self-pity? The dictionary defines it this way; a feeling of pity for yourself because you believe you have suffered more than is fair or reasonable.
Is any one of us completely immune to self-pity? The answer, I believe, is no we are not. I do not care how many positive words a person places on Facebook and no matter how spiritually mature they think they are, self-pity can come about at any time and if we are not wise to take hold of it and refuse to “go there,” it can and will destroy our day, our week, our month and sometimes, our lives.
It was 3AM in the morning and I woke from a sound sleep finding myself wide-awake. I got up and made a bathroom trip and came back to bed tossing and turning. I picked up my Ipad and started to scan my Facebook account. I thought of a friend that I hadn’t seen in years. She wasn’t a friend on Facebook and I wondered what had happened to her. I searched her name and BINGO there she was!
I clicked on her photos and begin to see picture after picture of her beautiful family. There they were around a huge table with at least 12 of them looking up at the camera. They had perfect smiles, perfect teeth, and they were all looking like the perfect family. Even their clothes were perfect and they all had that look of “having it all.”
All of a sudden a feeling of self-pity enveloped my body. It started at the top of my head and went all the way down to my toes. All my life I had dreamed of having the perfect family like that, I dreamed of sitting at a huge table like that with my perfect turkey and my perfect family. I truly believed that would be my life, but somewhere it took a different path. My family is separated and frankly dysfunctional. It’s a little bit of all of our faults and then again it’s none of our faults.
Even though I had closed the IPad that picture of her happy family stayed in my mind and Satan was using it to have a heyday with my imagination. With my husband sleeping soundly next to me huge wet, and silent, tears dripped down my face. Every bad self-pity thought I had ever had started to flow through my mind. I even started arguing with God. I reminded Him that I had been praying for years, refusing to doubt, but still my family life was in tatters.
Everything in me knew to change the channel and put my mind on the things of God. I believe His promises but at that moment I was not willing to be obedient. I wanted to dwell in that land of disappointing self-pity. Then Satan brought to my mind a couple of people who I believed were assigned to destroy my family. Revenge thoughts began to run through my mind. Before you knew it I was losing the battle of my mind and I was totally in the flesh with my feelings.
I finally got to sleep and woke up in a terrible mood. In the morning light as I was making coffee, I began to pray and give it to God. I refused to go back to the 3am self-pity thoughts and immediately, as I lifted my hands and started to praise God, my peace returned.
I spent the rest of the day thinking about how easily I had gone back into old ‘stinkin’ thinkin’ thoughts. Satan was bringing thoughts to me like, “Here you are trying to counsel others about learning to hold old thought patterns captive and you are not able to do it either!” I told Satan to scram and I begin to go through the Word and study examples of how easy it is to let our guard down and get back into old thought patterns.
With Christmas coming a lot of folks will dwell in self-pity and depression. The good news is that we don’t have to do that. Yes, we are in these suits of flesh, and as long as we are we will be tempted, but we ultimately have the mind of Christ and His strength can be ours again as soon as we confess our failures and ask Him to come back on the scene of our lives.
The reason we know that self-pity is not of God is the word self. When we are focused on ourselves, other than for self-examination leading to repentance (1 Corinthians 11:28; 2 Corinthians 13:5), we are in the territory of the flesh. Our sinful flesh is the enemy of the Spirit (Romans 8:7). When we surrender our lives to Christ, our old nature is crucified with Him (Galatians 2:20; Romans 6:6). The self-ish, sinful part of our lives no longer needs to dominate. When Self is dominant, God is not. We, in effect, have become our own god. C. S. Lewis put it this way: “The moment you have a self at all, there is a possibility of putting yourself first—wanting to be the center—wanting to be God, in fact. That was the sin of Satan: and that was the sin he taught the human race.”
It is possible to take dominion over self-pity and self-destructive thoughts. It starts by recognizing what is happening, and making the choice to not go down that path of feeling sorry for ourselves.
The minute we feel those old self-pity thoughts invading our minds we can say, STOP! Then we simply turn those thoughts off by putting our thoughts on something else purposefully. We refuse to go into the thoughts, and once there we refuse to stay in those thoughts! The longer we stay in self-pity the harder it is to make a life change, but it is possible.
So we then notice the self-pity thoughts or the thoughts of mean things that have been done or said to make us feel self-pity. We then say STOP. Then we put our attention elsewhere. We read a book, play a game, and plan our vacation mentally.
God wants our minds transformed and renewed. Satan knows that God has an assignment for our lives and so his job is to stop that assignment from coming to be. He does that by making us so confused and stuck in destructive, self-pity thoughts that we are unable to go forward.
Rejecting the impulse to feel sorry for ourselves is not easy. Life provides many opportunities to experience rejection, injustice, and the cruelty of man. Our natural response is self-protection, which often results in self-pity. However, we can choose to “walk by the Spirit, and . . . not gratify the desires of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16). We can refuse to indulge our sin natures and choose instead a grateful heart, trusting that “it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose” (Philippians 2:13). We can look at every opportunity to indulge in self-pity as chance to defeat that old nature. We can choose instead to trust that God “will work everything for the good, to those who love God and are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).
In His Unconditional Love,