Pity Party

M.C. Escher's <i>Ascending and Descending</i>

M.C. Escher's Ascending and Descending

“I had to walk uphill both ways for a mile in the middle of an ice storm to go to school!”

I don’t know whether anyone would really claim that or not, but that isn’t the point I was getting at. Show of hands: After reading that, how many people wanted to say “Oh yeah? Well I …” ?

The human race is a selfish group of people. One of the things that we are constantly looking for is other people’s money… Oh, and their pity.

Yeah but I…

Something I hear a lot of (especially at college) is the lack of sleep that people get:
Bob – “I only got about five hours of sleep last night. I…”
John – (cuts Bob off) “Yeah. I only got about three, ‘cuz I had homework due for that stupid English class.”
Bob – “Well, I finally got done with my math, and was about to fall asleep, when my sister started practising her drum for band at 1:30 in the morning.”
John – “My brother’s dog took up half my bed, and then woke me up an hour before my alarm clock went off ‘cuz no one let him out in the morning.”
Bob – “My mom woke me up three hours early to help mow the lawn, when it was freezing outside, and I didn’t look at the clock until it was two minutes till I had to go!”

And on and on and on. I’ve often wanted to ask these people why they hadn’t done their homework earlier, rather than waiting till midnight to start it. And don’t get me wrong, I have heard kids say they didn’t start their homework till real late, then turn around and complain about lack of sleep because of how much of it there was. In all of my classes, I have been given suggestions on how to study. One of the tips that is always near the top is something like: “Look over the work when you get it,” or “Look over the work before you start.” This is so you are not surprised when it takes you an hour or two to do.

I can be just as bad at this as anyone, whether it’s complaining about not getting enough sleep, or about a “Christmas present” of oral surgery scheduled during the holidays.

Words of wisdom

Another show of hands: How many of us use the question “So how have you been?” as an opportunity to share with that person how terrible our lives have been lately?

Sara – “So, what’s been going on?”
Bob – “My sister has decided that the only time she can practice her drum for band is at 1:30 in the morning, and my math teacher is the worst ever!”
Sara – “Awww, I’m sorry.”

Now, think really hard, did your mom ever tell you something like, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all”?

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” -Ephesians 4:29 (NIV)

Unwholesome = obviously harmful to physical, mental, or moral well-being.

The first thing that pops into my head when reading this verse, or hearing Mom quote that saying, is that they are talking about things that might hurt other people’s feelings or about swear words. But do you think it is helpful to people to hear about your complaints about how you made a bad decision and lost sleep over it? To tell someone that I have to go in for oral surgery might not be complaining at first, but it can quickly become a “feel sorry for me because this isn’t going to be fun” sort of thing. And there is NO reason for them to “feel sorry” because it isn’t their fault!!!

“Oh, I’m sorry to hear it!” How many times have we heard that. But why are they sorry? It’s not like they’re the mean boss that won’t give a vacation, or the math teacher who is way hard.

The positive alternative

Asking someone to pray for you should not turn into a pity party, either! Give them the facts: Math isn’t going so good,” or “My boss and I don’t see eye to eye,” and then ask them to pray. You aren’t going to get anywhere praying for a vacation, but if you pray that you and your boss understand each other, you might discover something you never would have expected. And you can pray for the discipline to work at your math until you understand it.

And then say something good or encouraging: Instead of telling them how bad math things are going, you can tell them how well drama is going. It might just help your attitude, too.

“Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe.” Philippians 2:14-15 (NIV)

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  1. This reminds me of the verse BK quoted this Sunday: “The tongue has the power of life and death.” (Proverbs 18:21) I want the words that come from my tongue to bring life. But how easy it is to fall back into complaining and arguing!

  2. Betty Macke

     /  October 31, 2009

    I bet Denise got that (complaining and arguing) from her mother!


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