The Ruination of a Good Pity Party

I used to throw a decent pity party.

I sent black and gray invitations (only to me, of course). I served Woe-Is-Me Hors D'oeuvres and Nobody-Loves-Me-I'll-Just-Eat-Dirt Pies and washed it all down with a hefty serving of whine. I didn't call it a night until I had wallowed in all the unfair circumstances in my life at the time.

Then I married Corey.

He doesn't allow pity parties under his roof. Maybe it's because he spent his early years without food, shelter, medicine or love. Maybe it's because he knows how useless pity parties are. Maybe it's because he's part Vulcan.

Whatever the reason, from the first year of our marriage (which was 16 years ago today, by the way), he made it blatantly clear: Pity parties are a waste of time, in addition to the height of self-absoprtion, and thus will not be tolerated in Chez Love Well.

It took me a few years to drop out of the pity party scene altogether. (After all, I had stocked up on What-About-Me Meatballs when I found them on sale.) But eventually, this whole marriage, two-become-one thing started to pay off.

I no longer had fun at my pity parties. So I stopped throwing them.

I'm telling this so you know -- I don't have many days like Tuesday anymore.

But sometimes, the emotions are too heavy to shake off without help.

So Tuesday, with my lungs thick with sighs and my eyes filled with tears, I decided to reach out.

I called a few friends. No one was home. I called my parents. They were busy getting their house ready to go on the market in Northern California. ("It will probably sell before ours," I sighed to myself.) I surfed the Interent and checked my e-mail and Twitter. I even called Corey at work, which is an option of last resort.

The conversation went like this:

Me: "Hi." (Meaningful silence while I swallowed the tears.) "I'm having a really bad day. I'm just so (sigh) discouraged."
Corey: "I'm sorry Nina. I'll pray for you."
Me: "Is there any chance you could, you know, come home early and we could all go to the park or something?"
Corey: (Meaningful silence while he rolled his eyes heavenward.) "I'll try, Nina, but it's really busy here."
Me: "Ummm..... OK. I understand. ... See you later."

Poor, poor me. I wanted to dissolve in tears and lay on the couch and let HGTV and The Food Network numb my soul. But Connor needed lunch and Teyla wouldn't nap and Natalie was going to be home soon and I had a pile of laundry that absolutely had to be tamed lest it take over my kitchen.

"You see, Lord?" I pouted. "I'm all alone. I have no one but You."

(Meaningful silence from God while Kelly gets it.)

"Ohhhhhh...."

This is a lesson God is gently but constantly teaching me. Because I am one of the most blessed women in the world when it comes to deep, rich, authentic friendships, I tend to gravitate toward people when I need a hug.

I want them to encourage me, point me to God, remind me of His truths.

And there's nothing wrong with that. What a blessing it is to be "Jesus-with-skin-on" to those we love.

But what God is teaching me is that He wants to be my comfort, my rock and my shelter. He wants to be my first option, not my only-if-no-one-else-has-time-for-me-today option.

So, with His gentle reprimand echoing in my heart, I sat with my Maker and let Him infuse my soul with fresh courage (which is literally what the word "encourage" means).

By the end of our time, I didn't feel listless anymore. I felt strong. I didn't feel disappointed. I felt hopeful.

And by the end of the week (such as today), I even felt a holy roar rise in my chest. Disappointment is a normal human emotion in response to what happened this week (or more correctly, what didn't happen). But buried in that disappointment was a nugget of unbelief. "Is God really good? Is God going to keep His promises? Can I really believe Him?" And when I saw that root, I was beyond annoyed. I was full-out mad. Compared to what I have already seen God do in my life -- and in circumstances much more impossible and painful than this -- how dare I doubt the One who is 100% trustworthy?

I don't know why God is choosing to keep us shackled to our old house. But I do believe that He is in charge of even this small matter. In the words of Daniel, heaven rules. He has a purpose, and it is for our good. I believe that with all my heart.

Yesterday, I likened my situation to a swimmer treading water in the ocean, facing wave after wave of crashing saltwater. To keep with that analogy -- reaching out to others is like that swimmer looking around for other swimmers to help her out in her time of distress. Not a bad idea, and there are times when it's the right thing to do.

But leaning into God to fight the discouragement is like that same swimmer stretching her toes down toward the bottom of the sea -- and finding solid rock on which to stand.

The situation doesn't change. The waves are still pounding, the water is still neck-deep.

But now, she has security and a strong place to stand.

That makes all the difference.

My soul finds rest in God alone;
my salvation comes from him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.
- Psalms 62:1-2

20 comments:

  1. This post is AWESOME. I love this, Kelly! What-About-Me-Meatballs is dadgum near the best thing I've read in a long time. LOVE IT.

    My husband doesn't allow the pity parties, either. And he had food and medicine growing up.

    Men.

    Hmph.

    Anyway, I adore this post and I am so thankful that God is drawing you ever closer to Him in the waiting. He wastes NOTHING. Glory.

    Thanks for this.

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  2. Beautiful post... I think we all tend to have pity parties but that's okay because when things are good...we feel that much more thankful.

    Kelly

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  3. PERFECT post.
    I have a lot of pity parties - I KNOW! I hide it so well! - and my husband is very annoying, too.
    "Stop worrying about things you can't fix," he ALWAYS tells me as I bug him AGAIN at work.

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  4. There were so many things I loved about this post--from the just-eat-dirt-pies to the "meaningful silence from God while Kelly gets it."
    But I got the goosebumps when I read the end. Standing on THE rock, waves still crashing about. So glad you found your strong place to stand...and found encouragement not in changing circumstances but in an unchanging, loving, trustworthy God.

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  5. I adore this post! :-) Seriously love it - thanks for the reminder. I know I tend to throw pity parties too and for some reason bringing my disappointment and hurt to the Lord helps so much more than pouting. Who knew?!

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  6. This post was amazing.

    "I'm all alone. I have no one but You."Could you not aim for dead center next time?!

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  7. Me too. I have those deep and beautiful friendships that are SUCH a blessing...but sometimes... or um, A LOT of the time, I lean on them FIRST.

    And then the end of the post! YES, that's it! When I turn to my earthly friends and family, I'm just spinning in circles while treading water, looking for light houses. And I DO see them, they ARE beacons of hope, but they aren't the sure footing.

    I will always hold this analogy in my heart and mind. Thank you!

    Um...I really like metaphors/analogies...can you tell? :)

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  8. Well written. God had to drag me (kicking and screaming I might add)12,000 miles from home to live for three years to teach me that. Although I've been leaning back towards those pity parties. Uh-oh, I better watch out!

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  9. This is so me.

    My husband has been on the receiving end of many heartfelt pleas to come home a little early to SAVE ME.

    He is not my savior, though.

    Such a multi-layered train of thought I have going on right now, thanks to you...

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  10. That was beautifully expressed, Kelly. I loved this post.

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  11. I was busy blowing up lead ballons for my own ball (it was going to just be a little party, but I decided to go big), when I thought I would check email, read a few blogs,meander across the web to numb my own pain while the "pity-punch" was chilling in the cooler...then this post...(deep sigh...)waves crashing:check, treading water:check, stupid swimmer gasping for air forgetting that her footing is so sure right under her....:check

    from your west coast dreamin' partner livin' in Podunk

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  12. Great. Now YOU've gone and ruined MY pity party. Thanks.

    Really.

    Thanks.

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  13. The very worst pity party of all is when you are certain you are the only woman/wife out there who has pity parties. The ones where you feel just in crying out, "Something's wrong with meeeeee! I'm not nooooormal!"

    Oh me oh my.

    Finding out today that I am not the only one who feels like a self-focused mess on more days than not has both its good and bad points.

    Bad, in that I am not entitled to attend the above pity party anymore.

    Good, in that it reveals there is nothing abnormally wrong with me. (Well, mostly.) Imagine! I am not the most pathetic woman/wife on the planet after all!

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  14. And isn't it the truth that we put our man through the ringer! Most of the time when I'm feeling blubbery I just want him to prove he cares. I could be 120% wrong about this or that, but does he care about me and my feelings? It always comes down to that.

    And sometimes he dares to tell me that no, he doesn't care, which I know is the most loving thing he could say in that moment because it abruptly crashes my party. And I know that only once I finally get over myself, he'll come love on me.

    I hate that. Don't you hate that? But *sigh* I know it's good for me.

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  15. Thanks for this. Well said. I love the swimming analogy. So true that we just need to put our feet down on that solid rock.

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  16. AWESOME post, Kelly. Great perspective and encouragement.

    But why, oh why, does Corey call you Nina? Did I miss something?

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  17. I can completely relate to this post.

    COMPLETELY.

    I've so been there. But His ways are not our ways. They're better.

    At some point...it may be way, way down the road...this will all become clear. And you will praise Him.

    (Hug.)

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  18. Being single, this post means THE WORLD to me. You have no clue. Thank you.

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  19. Wow, I completely love this post, like everyone else, so instead of throwing that pity party, you should totally throw an "I'm awesome" party instead!

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