(Below are Jessica's thoughts on Chapter 22, My life is so miserable; I feel sorry for myself because my life is so wretched!, Wilderness Mentality #7 of Battlefield of the Mind by Joyce Meyer. We'd love to hear your thoughts on this chapter as well. Feel free to leave a comment, question and/or scripture in the comment section below this post. Let's join together and fight this battle.)
I'm going to approach this a little differently this week. I'm going to start with a quote from Joyce Meyer in this chapter that had a big impact on me and then share about it.
It is vitally important to understand that we cannot entertain demons of self-pity and also walk in the power of God! (Joyce Meyer, p. 247)
I have to admit, it is very easy for me to fall into self-pity. The minute someone asks me how I am, and how Matthew is doing, I have to make a quick decision. Do I speak words about our situation that allow God's power to shine through, or do I go on about my hardships so that person feels bad for me? I'm not saying that we have to be dishonest and just say everything is great all the time. But for me, if I allow myself to dwell on the difficulties I feel so much worse about our situation, and physically drained. The truth is, raising a child with autism is seemingly an impossibly difficult task. Most people who do not have direct experience can't fathom all that our lives entail. But here's the thing: it is like that in any situation you are not acquainted with. This brings me to this next point:
Self-pity is idolatry-turning in on ourselves, concentrating on us and our feelings. It makes us only aware of our own selves and our own needs and concerns-and that is certainly a narrow-minded way to live. (Joyce Meyer, p. 248)
Joyce suggests a great strategy when we feel self-pity tugging at us. She recommends that we get ourselves off of our mind and reach out to someone else. There are lots of other moms in situations that are similar and also moms with challenges that we know nothing about. It means alot when someone lends a hand in support or a word of encouragement. It really matters when someone takes the time to find out how you are feeling and how you can be helped. You are sowing a beautiful seed when you take the time to reach out to someone else, no matter how you are moved to do so. Joyce also points out that overindulgent self-love and self-pity have alot in common. We are supposed to love and be loved by God and others (including ourselves) in a healthy and balanced way. If we get out of balance and focus exclusively on ourselves, it leads to selfishness and self-centeredness. We are supposed to feel honest compassion for those around us who are suffering, and be moved to help wherever we can. We are not supposed to take this to an unbalanced extreme and feel sorry for ourselves all the time. I believe the reason for this is because imbalances in self-love and self-pity sometimes feel like we are doing what feels best but actually work to isolate us. They block God's blessings from flowing in our lives. Not only are we not able to bless others but we are unable to fully receive the love and blessing that God intends for each of us. We are so much more powerful when we use our energy and gifts to encourage and bless eachother.
A Christian has a rare privilege when he experiences disappointment-he can be re-appointed. With God there will always be a new beginning available. (Joyce Meyer, p. 249)
I really liked this point. It reminds me of something I heard Joel Osteen say in one of his sermons, to not think of hard times as setbacks, but as set-ups. You may feel like you've been set back, but God is really setting you up to be blessed. Disappointments can be devastating, but God is always there. Turning inward and drawing close to Him, when you really want to run the other way and give up, is the truest measure of faith. Our God is faithful, and can be trusted, His way is always the best way and He is the one who can give us the new start that we need.
Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.
-Isaiah 43: 18-19
Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
-Philippians 2: 3-4
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
-1 Thessalonians 5:11
I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong— that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.
-Romans 1: 11-12