One of the great lessons I have learned is that feeling sorry for yourself actually makes your condition worse. The problem is that it can feel comfortable to remain in self-pity. It’s like a cozy blanket, but it will keep you trapped from ever breaking free.
It is my honor to help people break out of self-pity patterns. In fact, most people are one empowered decision away from everything changing. Self-pity will make sure you never make this empowered decisions.
A Distorted Prayer Life
If self-pity is a part of your conditioning, it will stifle your prayer life; mainly because it will train you to pray with negative desperation. You will always approach God with a “rescue me” kind of prayer, followed by deep disappointment because it “didn’t happen.”
The good news is that God does not lash out at us when we pray in pity. He is incredibly patient, but I do know He is seeking to grow up where we can weep in a healthy manner, but then pick ourselves up to step out and overcome. Self-pity won’t let you get back in the game.
The Anger of Self-Pity
For those of you helping someone with self-pity, pay attention. When the pity cycles over and over, but is no longer validated, get ready for anger to come out.
How dare you! You don’t know what I have been through!
I am in no way saying we should just walk up to people who have been through hard times and say, just get over it. Not at all. In fact, many people experience deeper damage from how cold others handled their brokenness.
Making the Transition into Empowerment
There needs to be time for weeping, grieving and processing through pain in our lives. In fact, I spend most of my work helping people to do that. But at some point we have to rise up and crawl out of the quicksand.
How long it takes to go from grieving to rising up? That is really dependent upon each person, their situation and their own relationship with God. But self-pity never allows the person to move from grieving pain into healing action.
At some point, you can see clearly as an outside observer that it’s time to start moving forward. After months and years of sharing and crying, there does come a point in time where we must take responsibility for change and step forward.
Stifling Relationship Potential
I lived with self-pity for most of my younger years, so I consider myself an expert on this quick-sand of death. I hate it with a passion and love setting people free to take their life back. It’s hard work, but when uno start breathing fresh air it is worth every investment.
I frustrated some well-meaning mentors and friends who tried to speak change into my life. I often defended my lack of breakthrough with replays of my past and constant merry-go-rounds of struggle. It wasn’t until I humbled myself and overthrew self-pity with a vengeance that I ever saw dynamic change come forth. When I kicked self-pity out, I regained control of my ability to choose. And my decision was a choice to overcome.
A Public Encounter
I allowed self-pity to show itself one night at a church service with a dear sister in Christ who was filled with cancer. The doctors said she had only months to live so she would come for prayer at our gatherings. Week after week, she would ask for prayer from believers around her, as many of us in her shoes would.
There is nothing wrong with that. But over time, week after week, I saw how this became a self-pity scene, giving Satan glory for this disease. There was no plan of action to take her life back and apply some of the freedom steps. I noticed how this became more about huddling around all the problems with no resolution.
The tears of those around her became ungodly sorrow with no hope or direction. So, while a bunch of people were gathered in the back around this woman. I felt a nudge to operate in boldness. I walked up to her and asked, “So, do you want to be healed?”
Her reply, “oh yes, of course I want to be healed.”
I quickly said to her, “This disease is serious business. Your life is at stake here. Can I be very honest and to the point since we don’t have much time to play around?”
“Yes,” she said.
“Let’s work on addressing what may be holding you back. If I may ask, is there anyone that you have deep issues with that you need to forgive? We might as well clear the slate spiritually and emotionally so you can be more at peace.”
I don’t recommend jumping into questions like this out of nowhere. You need to develop a relationship first, or truly hear from God, or else you can do more damage than good. Please understand, this woman had been in communication with me for quite some time . She had been looking for help. It can be very dangerous if you jump in with strong statements when you do not have relational credibility or wisdom operating.
When Our Negative Story Rises Up
In response to my question, she looked down. Like the man at the pool, I did not get a yes or no answer, but instead got a story. She spent the next few minutes telling me about a series of wrongs that had been thrown at her. I kept redirecting back to the question, “Are you ready to forgive and move forward with your life and health?”
The only response I got back was more self-pity. To make matters worse, the people around her were buying it and feeding into the pity trails, thus causing her to fall deeper into the quicksand.
The problem with this kind of situation is that it can be a set up by the enemy to make those who offer help to seem unloving, like they don’t care. When in reality, I love people enough that I am willing to risk them getting mad at me and walking away for the sake of helping them walk into wholeness.
Sometimes people are not used to experiencing someone who loves them enough to speak into the problem with clarity, yet with passionate love. I want to empower people. Unfortunately, I often want the healing more than others do.
The Spiritual Tension
For most, self-pity does not leave without pitching a fit. I remember one night standing in my bedroom, speaking encouragement to myself and crying out for victory. Self-pity was waiting for me every morning when I woke up and would replay as I would lay to be. It was my “go to spiral” whenever things got tough. I could feel the all-out war. I felt as though something was pushing against my chest; like I could see freedom, but a plexiglas wall was preventing me from actually entering in.
The enemy wanted to keep me as a victim. My resolve to pursue and fight for freedom was truly being tested.
You have to understand, I was never trained on how to be a fighter. Most people aren’t and we get exhausted easily. So I always fell back into negativity and the self-pity trap.
Blocking God’s Perspective
In the book of Kings, Elijah’s biggest struggle arrived when Jezebel sent threats of killing him. This came right after his huge Mt. Carmel victory over the prophets of Baal. A mighty man of God hears a threat from a king’s wife and suddenly responds like a wimp! Just a few hours ago, he prayed down fire from heaven and killed thousands of false prophets. Now, he’s running for his life and calling it quits.
Elijah’s depression spiral is exactly what self-pity looks like.
When Elijah stops running, he comes to a place of isolation and falls into a deep trench of self-pity. God even comes to him, asking, “Elijah, what are you doing here? (1 Kings 9:9).
Look at Elijah’s answers,
“I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.” 1 Kings 19:10
Even the manifest presence of God did not wake Elijah up out of his pity! His response is based on thoughts you and I can entertain everyday if we are not careful. “I have done this. I have done that. No one understands how hard I’ve worked. I am all alone in this. No one cares. Everyone’s out to get me. People are against me. I have no help. Woe is me.” Even some of the strongest people in the Kingdom of God can be taken out by a work of self-pity.
Make the Decision
The only way we can break free is to make a decision ourselves that we will rise up and overcome. No one can make that decision for you, nor can anyone take the steps for you.
The greatest breakthroughs can come when you stand up, look in the mirror and say, “Today is the day I take my life back. Whatever it takes, I’m breaking free.”
That’s what will set you apart from those who remain in status quo.
The good news is that your Father in heaven believes you have what it takes to overcome. Now you just need to believe that and take action.
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