Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Pity Party

I like to joke a lot about being mediocre, but sometimes, being average just gets to me. My self confidence seems to be fair-weathered. I have to nurture it like a tender flower or, before too long, I'll find myself sulking in a pool of self-loathing, in danger of drowning in my own hypothetical tears. 

I will spare you the whoa-is-me details of my latest episode, but seriously! What is this thing with self pity? Why do I get this way sometimes and what can I learn from it? 

It's not depression or even insecurity. It's more of a general sense of not being sparkly-enough. It's mixed feelings of being scrutinized and forgotten, feeling unnecessary yet entitled. At the same time, I don't want to care what the world thinks about who I am, so it drives me nuts when I find myself practically addicted to everybody else's reassurance and approval.  I wish there was a pill to get rid of pride. I would swallow it with a big bite of humble pie and chase it down with a gulp of suck-it-up. I want God to be proud of me, not people.

In Donald Miller's book, Searching for God Knows What, he makes a case for us broken, downtrodden folk. Miller reminds the reader of an era, before evil roamed the earth, when God's presence used to tell us we were wanted, good, important and powerful. When the personal and intimate relationship with God was breached by sin, God chose to no longer dwell on earth with man and we were left to get our affirmations from our peers. Consequently, it was a natural response for us to seek redemption in our relationships. Staying busy, having things and forming attachments to ideals, stuff and people makes sense in a world without God physically being present to satisfy all our emotional needs.  I like Miller's illustration:

     "you go walking along thinking people are talking a language and exchanging ideas about ethics, fashion or politics but this whole time we are speaking a deeper language that really has to do with feeling important and valuable. The economy we are really dealing with in life is relational."  He proposes, "if the gospel of Jesus is just some formula I obey to get taken off the naughty list, then the deepest need of the human condition, the hidden language we all speak, is being  ignored.  But, if Jesus was sent to speak to our deepest need, reunite us with the community who gives us our value, then His gospel is the most relevant message in the history of mankind." 

These passages resonate with me. I wonder how the apostle Paul would've felt if his letters to the church had landed on deaf ears, or never made it to them at all. Would he have felt as excited or motivated to write his letters to people who did not regard or respect him? If he just wrote the letters out of sheer obedience to God, would his tone have been as impassioned and loving if he had no relationship with the people (the church) he was addressing? 

I think Paul would've obeyed God regardless whether or not it rendered him any personal satisfaction but seeing the fruit from his labor and trials most definitely contributed to his mojo. I think the joy we get from relationships and kudos from doing a job well done is our reward from God. He uses people to administer his kindness towards us. 

Sometimes I take God's ways for granted and fall into these moods where I just want all the warm-fuzzies sans the people, or I'll want the people's affection minus the effort. A friend posted on Facebook, "Don’t be upset by the results you didn't get from the work you didn't do."  And that's exactly my problem! I get into these funks where my dissatisfaction with myself is in direct proportion to my lack of reaching out to God, not helping others, and my apathetic approach to the mundane things in life. 

When I get like this, my motives tend to get all bejangled in the process. I end up putting my heart into "stuff" or person and expect certain results, a "thank you," "Good job," or an invitation into their world.  But nobody owes me, I'm not entitled to anyone's praise or what they can do for me. 

I still have so much to learn. *sigh* Maybe I should begin with aiming to be more than mediocre? I'm sure there is "something" in the Bible that says I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me and that His plans for me are good so that I'll have hope and a future;)

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