Pity Parties

Pity Parties

Have you ever had a “pity party”? I have, and pitifully, I’m the only one who attended. Pity party conversations sound something like this: "People gossip about me. No one really cares about what is happening to me. I’m a burden to my family. No one is as evil as me. I’m ugly. Nobody wants to be my friend. I’m unlovable and worthless. I mess everything up."

Some signs of self-pity are:

• Repeatedly telling or thinking about how someone wounded you

• Repeatedly asking “why did this happen to me?”

• Having feelings of unfairness

• Making statements such as “I’m worthless…I will never succeed…I always fail…”

• Focusing thoughts on “me, myself, and I”

Another sign of self-pity is thinking how another person’s misfortune will impact you rather than having or showing compassion for them. Like the wife who doesn’t think about the impact on her husband’s emotions when he loses his job, but feels sorry for herself because her husband has “failed”. Or the parent of a wayward child, who is ashamed because it appears they have failed as a parent, rather than seeing their child’s behavior as an attempt to deal with their own pain without God.

Because self-pity begins in our mind, everyone, including Christians, are subject to this spirit’s attack, especially those who are going through an emotionally shattering experience.

For example, Elijah was one of the greatest prophets who ever lived. God performed miracles through him. Still, Elijah is seen in the Scriptures as sitting under a small tree because he had allowed fear and self-pity to overtake him.

1 Kings 19:3-4 Frightened, Elijah fled to save his life. He came to Beersheba in Judah and left his servant there. Then he traveled through the wilderness for a day. He sat down under a broom plant and wanted to die. “I've had enough now, LORD,” he said. “Take my life! I'm no better than my ancestors.”

Job was a righteous man, who suffered great loss and pain. He wished he had never been born and longed for death.

Job 3:20-22 “Why is light given to him who is in misery, and life to the bitter in soul, who long for death, but it comes not, and dig for it more than for hidden treasures, who rejoice exceedingly and are glad when they find the grave?”

The spirit of self-pity has been around since the beginning of time, but it has never been a benefit to anyone. Furthermore, it will never do us any good, now or in the future.

When a personal catastrophe comes our way, self-pity can do far more harm than the thing that actually happens to us. We cannot do anything about a lot of things that happen to us, but we can do something about self-pity. We can rebuke it and refuse to wallow in it!

There is no way we can rebuild our life by indulging a spirit of self-pity. Self-pity does not free us from the unhappy past. It enslaves us to our past. Self-pity causes us to live in the past instead of bravely facing the present.

Self-pity opens the door for depression. Get rid of self-pity and you will rid yourself of one of the major causes of depression.

Self-pity mars our relationship with others. The person who is forever going over and over things he regrets about his life will not be able to maintain his friendships. People avoid pity parties with a person who is always whining and complaining.

Self-pity stops our progress to being a healthy and mature individual. Growth and achievement come to a standstill. When we are feeling sorry that nothing good happens to us—that is exactly what is happening to us—nothing good!

Self-pity is not the way to make things better. You tell me:

  • Has self-pity ever changed what has happened? No!
  • Has it ever made you feel better? No!
  • Has it ever made you feel loved? No!
  • Has it ever enabled you to achieve your goals in life? No!
  • Has it ever brought you closer to others? No!
  • Has it ever brought you into closer fellowship with God? Never!

No matter what our circumstances, we cannot afford a pity party! It will cost us dearly.

So, how can we prevent a spirit of self-pity from taking hold of us?

1. Spot it quickly, and see it for what it is: an evil spirit associated with pride and selfishness. Resist the spirit of self-pity in the Name of Jesus, obey God, and focus your thoughts on Him.

James 4:7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

2. Expect some troubles in this life and don’t lose faith when they happen.

Jesus said in John 16:33 “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Jesus never suggested that we could pass through life without feeling the sting of regret or an emotional hurt. He promised His peace to those who take refuge in Him when tribulation comes to them.

3. Focus on what you have, not on what you have lost. Self-pity is simply focusing on one's miserable self. It is seeing everything that is wrong, and not seeing anything that is right. Self-pity focuses on what we lack, on our limitation, and our losses. So, refocus on Christ and take inventory of what you have and of the blessings you have received - life, health, food, etc.

Every Christian can be forever grateful for the eternal life that we have in Christ, and the many blessings of God we receive every day, none of which we deserve.

4. Be a victor over circumstances, not a victim! With God's grace we can always be victorious!

Romans 8:35-37 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

It is not what we have lost that matters; it is what we have that matters! It is not what seems impossible; it is that with God all things are possible! Don't be concerned about what you can't do; look at what you can do! With God's grace, our losses can be an opportunity to gain something good for the Kingdom of God.

5. Give yourself in service to others. There are always a lot of other people you can feel sorry for instead of yourself. Since self-pity is a direct result of self-centeredness, there is no better remedy for selfishness than giving yourself in service to others.

Thanks be to God for Jesus, who showed us how to deal with difficulties and hardships. He gave of Himself for others in everything that he did! This is the right and healthy way to live!

6. Get some physical exercise, eat right, and take vitamins. Yes, I know, that sounds very simple and worldly. I mention it because while we are attending our pity party, we don’t feel like doing anything, including taking care of ourselves. We can begin resisting the evil spirit of self-pity by doing something simple, such as maintaining our health.

Exercise will help us to get our mind off of our problems. As our body shapes up and tones up, we will feel stronger and hopeful. Also, the exercise will make our body tired and we will sleep better at night.

If we fail to take these steps to resist self-pity, we will succumb and suffer severe consequences.

For example, self-pity can cause us to stay stuck in unforgiveness. It does this by preventing true forgiveness of others because we continue to rehearse the event, thereby repeatedly hurting ourselves. It can even create a false ‘right to unforgiveness’. When this happens, we begin to think to ourselves, “Look at this awful thing that person did to me. I have a right to feel sorry for myself and to not forgive them.” Thus, self-pity puts us in danger of being unforgiven.

Matthew 6:14-15 For if you forgive others when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Self-pity can also give us a sense of hopelessness. Self-pity does this by diminishing our view of God and His character. It causes us to doubt what God says, and it creates beliefs that God doesn’t love us or He has abandoned us.

Self-pity will cause loneliness. It makes us afraid to commit to another person because we have no confidence that we have anything to offer that person. Either we do not reach the other person, or we do not allow him to reach us. We feel that once a person gets close enough to know us, that person will reject us or lose interest in us. Since we feel that we don’t deserve to be liked, we keep to ourselves and remain at the pity party.

Self-pity creates self-centeredness because the focus is entirely on self and our problems. Hence, we cannot or will not deal with other people’s problems and emotions.

Self-pity leads us to blame others for our problems and not accept or acknowledge our own responsibility. When we feel others are solely to blame for our problems, self-pity takes away our ability to repent and make changes to alleviate the problem.

Self-pity encourages us to look at other people’s circumstances and view them as better than our own; which often leads to comparison, envy, and resentment. This is sometimes the only time self-pitiers focus on others, yet it is still primarily about us, and it is definitely not healthy. We bring a curse upon ourselves with our sinful thoughts and bitter judgments.

Self-pity prevents praise and worship of God. Praise is an outward expression of trust, hope, faith, and thankfulness; qualities which are severely hindered by self-pity. As a result, we feel distant from God. Indeed, this sin creates a stronghold for Satan and separates us from God.

Self-pity also separates us from others. It is an especially effective stronghold because it isolates us and keeps us stuck in a pity party of pain and unforgiveness.

To break its stronghold and get deliverance from self-pity, there are several steps we must take:

1. Confess/admit the sin of self-pity. It is extremely difficult for the person stuck in self-pity to admit it. Self-pity is associated with pride. Self-pity tell us we are better than the person who hurt us and we have a right to feel this way long after the event happened. After all, “It’s my party, and I will cry if I want to… You’d cry too if it happened to you”.

In addition to self-pity and pride, confess how you may have misjudged God’s character by doubting His sovereignty over circumstances, His goodness, and His kindness. Confess your unforgiveness, self-centeredness, fear, anger, and ingratitude.

1 John 1:8-9 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

2. Forgive those who have wounded you. Then ask God to forgive you for misjudging His character, for doubting Him. Ask Him to forgive you of the sins you confess.

Relinquish the right to self-pity, and continue to forgive every time the painful thoughts return. Focus on the pain Jesus suffered for your sin, and how He prayed for those who abandoned Him, falsely accused Him, and crucified Him. Therefore, pray for those who hurt you.

As He was being crucified, Jesus prayed in Luke 23:34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments.

3. Ask for the Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13) and for grace to praise God. It is important to praise God for the attributes of His character that you misjudged. Praise Him for: His sovereignty, goodness, His love and desire for us. Sing praises to Him. Be filled with the Spirit and worship God in Spirit and Truth (John 4:23-24)

4. Take every thought captive. I know I’ve already said this, but I can’t stress this enough. This is essential for deliverance from self-pity. Self-pity attacks our thought life. Therefore, taking every thought captive is key to staying out of self-pity.

When your mind wanders, what topic does it go to? Does it go to wounds of the past, or to God in praise and acknowledging His power in a situation? What external data are you putting into your mind (books, TV, internet, conversations)? Remember our thoughts lead to our behavior.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ

5. Give thanks! Thank God for all things because He is using every circumstance to perfect your faith and increase your relationship with Him.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

6. Help others in either action or prayer. This will take the focus off of self. It will also begin the process of loving others more than yourself.

2 Corinthians 13:11 Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.

In summary, self-pity is excessive love of oneself. The world encourages self-love, but it leads to selfishness, pride, and self-pity. Survival instincts cause us to naturally love ourselves, so we don’t need encouragement to love ourselves. We need encouragement to love God and others.

Therefore, the prevention and cure for self-pity, pride, and selfishness is summed up by Jesus in Matthew 22:37-40 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

The saints who overcome Satan, self-pity, selfishness, and the world are known by their love for one another (John 13:35). They are also known for another trait mentioned in Revelation 12:11 And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.

If you realize you have been struggling with a spirit of self-pity, quit entertaining it with a party. Confess it to God and ask for His grace to repent. Instead of focusing on yourself, focus on loving God and others. Ask for the Holy Spirit so you can be filled with the fruit of the Spirit instead of the fruit of your self-centered flesh.

If you have never accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, “self” is your god. Do you realize that? You do what you want to do. That makes “self” your god. That is the way of the world and it leads to Hell! Would you like to change your destination?

Then you must change your god!

If you believe Jesus is the Son of God, who atoned for your sin on the cross, make Him your God. Confess your sin to the Father and repent—turn away from being your own god. Follow Jesus by faithfully submitting to baptism. Then you will be born again of the Holy Spirit, who will abide in you and give you power over sin, Satan, and the flesh. He will be “God in you” and give you power to be Christ’s witness in this world.

Jesus said in Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”