faith, Pandemic Wisdom

The Power of the Pity Pit

Oh my goodness, Texas. What do we even say about the week that has just passed? When I turn on CNN and see the news is mostly about us, I know it is not good.

As you are aware, we’d already been living through this strange, scary, hard pandemic for almost 12 months now. We have faced shortages of supplies, fear for our health and the health of our loved ones, some of us have been sick, loved ones have died. We’ve learned to do all of life in new, not fun ways. We still carry this trauma. We have yet to process our losses. I just read a study showing that everyone’s life expectancy just went down a notch in the last 12 months. I’m sure that is true. Can’t you just feel it? If you can’t feel it, look in the mirror, you will see it. Add to that the job insecurity, financial worries, hunger and housing issues facing people. The collective pain of this time is real and still not over.

Then, remember the difficult unrest of the summer with the protests around Black Lives Matter? Remember the heartache of that time? Recall the rhetoric around that? Don’t forget the re-evaluation of our priorities from statues to team names to how we treat each other.

Add to that the gut-wrenching election season we all endured. The ripple effects of this are still unfolding into our most recent weeks. I can’t really even talk about it except to say, wasn’t that trying?

Then, I’ve noticed layers of people’s personal pain. We see this in the Jesus Calling Weekly Prayer Call. Each week, people from all over the world submit their prayer requests to http://www.jesuscalling.com. We pray over these aloud every week on the call. EVERY week the calls are from different people. In one year of doing this every week, we have rarely repeated a request. People’s pain, layered pain, is unrelenting right now. I also see the same dynamic in just the people I know, not just troubles but layers of trouble.

And then, this week in Texas, a record breaking freeze with snow and ice for the ENTIRE state. All of the sudden we went from a rare snow day attitude, settling in with our puzzles and hot chocolate to widespread power outages, people freezing in their own homes, a lack of supplies of all types and now a life threatening lack of clean water plus extensive damage to schools, businesses, churches and homes. We do not even fully know the extent of it all. Our hearts, souls and peace of mind, all previously damaged are now even more scarred. I’ve heard many of our family members, friends and neighbors reporting extreme exhaustion. Some wondered if it was from physically being cold for several days. Some wondered if it was the mental toll of being worried about everyone we know. Someone else wisely said it was maybe the result of our homes all of the sudden not being safe places to be. I think it is ALL of it. I’ve been feeling like we are in season 8 of Lost. We survived the plane crash but day after day, season after season we are facing new and unknown aggressors.

We are thawing out now but the ripples of consequence continue. I wonder what will happen with virus cases as we all doubled and tripled our households just to survive. Every single member of our extended family dealt with scary scenarios this past week, including my over 80 year old in-laws with no power or heat for days as well as our son and daughter-in-law with a newborn baby, our daughter and her family and our college age son.

I know you and those you loved suffered too. If you feel exhausted, scathed, extra anxious or weary today. I see you. I feel it too.

Once again, like yours, my gratitude for the basics, has been multiplied. I have a growing awareness of how much we still take things like light, heat, water, a meal for granted.

And yet I find myself feeling sorry for all of us. How much are we supposed to take? How many layers of hurt, trauma and fear are we supposed to endure? There was a meme going around this week with a stressed out picture of Chris Farley with the words I’m tired of living through historical times to which I also said, Amen! I actually feel like I, myself, look more like that stressed out Chris Farley every day.

So, I’m just going to lay this little scripture and/Jesus Calling devotional for 2-23 right down beside all of the above. I’m going to lay it down very softly and gently with no judgement. It is a startling word given what we’ve been through. I actually dislike it but it is not about my preferences, apparently.

Be on guard against the pit of self pity. When you are weary or unwell, this trap is the greatest danger you face. Don’t even go near the edge of the pit. Its edges crumble easily, and before you know it, you are on the way down. (Jesus Calling by Sarah Young, 2-23)

I feel like we’ve earned a pity party, don’t you? Evidently, though, self pity is not that good for us.

The devotion continues, There are several ways to protect yourself from self-pity. When you are…praising and thanking Me, it is impossible to feel sorry for yourself. Also the closer you live to Me, the more distance there is between you and the pit. Live in the Light of My Presence by fixing your eyes on Me. (Jesus Calling by Sarah Young, 2-23)

I was recently asked what I would write in a greeting card in order to cheer people up. (I know, strange question). As I thought about it I realized the best greeting card I could send anyone, in any condition, would only have two words: Look Up. I learned this phrase in a life-impacting way ten years ago before I began the hardest season I’ve ever endured. Every time I’ve managed to remember it, say it and do it, my perspective has changed.

A pity pit is always a downward glance. Always. It is dangerous and easy to fall into. Looking up is far better. Always.

Everyone knows the last year has been hard. The last week, especially in Texas, has been like a horror movie, truly. We have every reason to look down to the pit. We’ve even earned it.

God, however, is whispering something different to us, something counterintuitive. Our God specializes in fixing what is broken, in healing our wounds and in transforming our thoughts. It is the ongoing miracle of resurrection. Are you tempted toward the pit? Don’t be. Choose a better way, look up.

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus….Hebrews 12:2

Dr. Cindy Ryan is a pastor, wife, mother of three, breast cancer survivor and Mosa to Keller, Pace and River. Go to http://www.drcindyryanblog.com for more blogs, upcoming events, information on the Weekly Jesus Calling Prayer Call and to sign up for Cindy’s Inner Circle monthly email. Sign up by 2-28 to receive her March Top Ten List.

3 thoughts on “The Power of the Pity Pit”

    1. I so needed this as I have been tired, unmotivated, blah, overly anxious and heading in the direction of a large but quiet self pity party. You always know what we seem to be feeling and just what to say–refocusing our gaze on God. Prayers, love and virtual hugs to all.

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