Feelings of pain, rejection, lack of self-worth and despair are something you have probably felt at some point in your life. But God can heal even your deepest wounds and you can become all that He created you to be.
It doesn’t matter how wounded you are when you come to Jesus for help. He paid the price for your healing (see Isaiah 53:5), and if you will do what His Word tells you to do, then He guarantees to set you free (see Hebrews 10:35-36).
My childhood and teenage years were disappointing and discouraging, full of fear, verbal and sexual abuse, violence and strife. As anyone might guess, I became a very bitter, angry, pessimistic person, and self-pity became a huge roadblock to the healing of my soul. I just refused to get past my past.
Finally, God said to me, “Joyce, you can be pitiful or powerful, but you can't be both. Which do you want?” That was a shocking revelation that forced me to wake up and face the truth:
Yes, I had an abusive childhood and suffered from all the problems that go with it—but the time had come for me to choose to get over all that and find out what God had planned for my life.
The truth is, self-pity never helped me one tiny bit. It didn’t help me change anything or make progress. It never changed the people around me, who I often saw as the source of my pitiful feelings. What self-pity did was drain me of energy, steal my hope, and prevent me from enjoying my life and the blessings God had given me.
With this new revelation, God was offering me a life-changing choice.
It’s Our Choice to Make Alone
If we want to experience God’s power in our life then, with His help, we have to give up self-pity!
Now, it might seem like an obvious choice. I mean, who would choose self-pity when power was being offered as an alternative? But many people make that choice every day...because although they hate it—or they don’t even recognize it—it’s become a habit in which they find a certain amount of comfort.
I’ll give you this example. One Sunday when our kids were young, they went outside to play, and my husband, Dave, was inside enjoying a football game on TV. I could have joined him, but instead, I got into my usual habit of blaming Dave, and I thought, It must be nice to sit on the couch and enjoy yourself, but someone has to do the work around here, and it is always me!
Here’s the thing. I wasn’t cleaning the house because it was dirty; I was only doing it to try and make Dave feel sorry for me! Honestly, I don’t even know what I would have wanted him to do at that moment, but I sure didn’t want him to be happy! The fact is, people who feel miserable want others to feel miserable too.
Giving in to the sin of self-pity may feel good temporarily, but it is actually debilitating. It paralyzes us and prevents us from making any progress in life, and that’s just what the enemy wants! We should never open the door to self-destructive attitudes if we want to be filled with righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
We Can Be Powerful, Patient and Kind
By the time God spoke to me about being pitiful or powerful, I was already teaching a very small home Bible study and truly did want to make progress in my walk and relationship with God. However, I had many roadblocks in my path that I needed to recognize and deal with, and self-pity was one of the worst.
The days I wasted feeling sorry for myself are far too many to count. They are days I can never get back. But thankfully, I did begin to see that I could learn from my mistakes and make better choices in the future.
Yes, I am still tempted to feel sorry for myself when I am having a difficult day. And yes, Dave still watches football, but things have gotten better. Dave now does the dishes, and sometimes even the laundry while I sit and watch television. God does indeed do amazing things!
Be Alert to God’s Will and Wisdom
If self-pity is bragging about how bad you have it in life, don’t you think it’s time to start bragging about the good things God wants to do in you and through you? Don’t you think it’s time to make the best of the life you have left?
The good news is, God’s Word gives us some powerful antidotes to self-pity. One is to be aggressively thankful, living to please God and make others happy (see Galatians 2:20). Another is to simply get up and do something! Take a walk outside. Find something that makes you laugh. Do something that feels mildly or even wildly adventurous (see Isaiah 40:31 and Joshua 1:9)!
It’s time to move forward. So, give up the excuses. Knock down the roadblocks that have trapped you in your past. Healing for your soul and an enjoyable life are waiting for you on the other side.
This article was adapted from Joyce’s newest book, Healing the Soul of a Woman.