Self pity is often perceived as an uncomfortable thing. We see someone feeling sorry for themselves and want to help them feel better by encouraging them. But I can speak from personal experience, self-pity actually feels pretty good. Some people describe a meltdown as "having a good cry." It can feel lovely--pouring out your worries in a flood of self-pity. It's the easiest way to deal with a disappointment or blow to one's self-esteem. When I'm having a good cry, I'm reluctant to feel better, even when I know it's the most reasonable, realistic thing to do.
But at the same time, it makes me miserable, not to mention my family. I want to stop feeling sorry for myself, so what is it lies at the root of self-pity?
I suggest that it is the same thing that is at the root of self-confidence.
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.Luke 12:34
I have a friend I admire very much whose self-esteem seems to waver very little, or not at all. No matter what, she knows who she is and what she's capable of.
My self-confidence is always off the charts--one way or the other. One moment I'm on top of the world, thinking of my skills, my personal progress, my accomplishments, etc. Then I'm rubbing my face in the dirt over character flaws, failures, and stumbling blocks. I expect it's like this for a lot of other people too.
How can we even this out? How can we avoid the mountaintops of pride and valleys of depression? What is the root of our self-confidence? What is the root of our self-pity? And what should it be?
This demands some introspection. What makes your self-confidence soar? What makes you throw a full-blown pity party? When a girl measures her self-worth by the size of her waist, guess what happens when that waist (or her perception of that waist) changes for the worse? What about the man who measures the success of his life by the amount of money he makes, or the woman who measures her success as a mother by the good conduct of her children? The things these people are putting their confidence in are fluctuating on a daily basis. There hearts are set on these things, and when they fail, their self-confidence and joy plummet.
When I examined my own roots, I also saw things that are changing constantly. My eating habits, my schedule, even acne can lower my self-confidence. It puts me on an emotional roller coaster that's anything but healthy.
We need something solid to root our self-confidence.
In the immortal words of Edward Mote
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,and
My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
’Midst all the hell I feel within,
On His completed work I lean.Does it seem like I'm skipping subjects? Not at all. Jesus is a rock that cannot waver. I might skip a meal or double-book an appointment or fall behind on an assignment, but He will still be there. My emotional balance may be upset from time to time, but if Jesus is the root of my self-confidence, then it is never-changing. If "my hope is built on nothing less," then where does my roller coaster roll?
On level ground.