Joy isn’t.

It’s been one of those weeks for me. Or maybe one of those months. Or – more realistically – it’s just how my life goes. I talk to hurting people. The thing is – I have no problems with wading through the emotional devastation that souls are so often comprised of.  I am quite comfortable with other people’s tears. But it is has just been a few days in a row of intensity, where I feel, in some teeny tiny degree why Christ was called a man of sorrows.  I have also been reflecting on a passage in Romans:

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.  Romans 8:18-22

This life is PAINFUL.  Like birth pains kinda hurting. And as I sit privy to some of the darkness, and ugliness of it, it feels just a little bit overwhelming at times. I watch as different friends deal with extremely different circumstances in different ways though, and I feel a resolve – to not continue to allow my own situations to dictate my reactions to them.

I have felt a certain degree of self-pity these last couple of months.  I loathe self-pity.  I appreciate Lewis’s view on it (this taken from a letter to his best friend Arthur):

“Which reminds me, you are drifting into a habit of morbid self-pity lately: all your letters are laments. Beware the awful fate of growing up like that. I never, for my part, saw what was meant by such terms as ‘the relief of confiding ones troubles’ and the ‘consolations of sympathy’: my view is, that to mention trouble at all, in a complaining way, is to introduce into the conversation an element equally painful for everyone, including the speaker. Of course, it all depends the way it is done: I mean, simply to mention them is not wrong, but, words or expression to call for sympathy which your hearer will feel bound to pump up, is a nuisance.” C.S. Lewis (at the incredibly mature age of 16)

I think the temptation when life hurts is to feel sorry for ourselves.  I think our motivations vary. I think for me, I feel like I finally hurt enough to make it about me.  There are a couple of problems with this theory.

1. I’m a very selfish person to begin with – so the idea that NOW I get to focus on myself is ludicrous. Feeling ENTITLED to whine and mope because my life feels strangely uncomfortable is just a poor view on my situation.
2. It isn’t about me. Of course, my entire bloggings are about my perception of things – but that’s not to say that the things that happen around me are happening to me…
3. Self-pity breeds self-pity. There is nothing about allowing a sinful approach to life to creep in for a season that makes us done with the mentality when the season is done.
4.EVERYONE IS HURTING. This is the kicker.  And the eye opener for me this week.  Oh, I have known this for quite some time.  But, as I try to keep up with everyone who feels a little overwhelmed these days – I realize it is almost an effort in futility.

I think this is where my reflections are headed this week.  Because I know people who are suffering blows I did not think happened to the people I care about.  And there is not a one of them who would wish what they are going through on another human.  And yet, the approach to grief varies an incredible deal. I have friends who really, really do not want to let go of their hurts. They remind me of my son who just now hurt himself on the trampoline.  I love Judah – but whenever he hurts he triple checks that we all know. He grunts and moans and whines and whimpers for as long as possible.  He LOVES the sympathy.  And then there are people like my grandfather – who was buried with a crooked nose because he didn’t want the nurse that knew it was broken to take him in to the hospital.  He had a suspicion he was sick enough with cancer that he would get wheeled in with a broken nose and kept there because he was ill… He sucked it up – and it was a ridiculous reminder that we all greet pains differently.  You see – it is not about the size of your hurt – some of us are Judahs – and everyone else is going to know life sucks right now.  And some of us are Walters – it probably hurts a good deal more – and it will only be in the retelling of stories that everyone knows just how strong you really were.

So. JOY.  Joy is not in not suffering.  Joy is in how we embrace our sufferings and our Savior.  For me – the self-pity really has to be done. Life is not going to get easier – and my happiness can not keep being circumstantial.  Resolve with me – to find joy in Him, and not in what is happening to you…

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. carol chudy
    Apr 10, 2011 @ 20:09:21

    Some random comments – don’t try to link them together or it won’t make any sense at all.
    It is an overstated comment but true nonetheless, trials and troubles can make us better or bitter. When we see all things through God’s providential hand and know that He brings all things to better us – ie conform us to Christ, then we CAN rejoice.
    It is easier sometimes to be the one going through the difficulty. The Lord draws closer, everything has more meaning. I personally have a harder time seeing those I care for struggle with pain and trial than going through it myself.
    Everyone is struggling with something – this is true. Pain is lessened when shared and it is a blessing that the Lord puts us in the way of others who are in pain that we/you can be His instrument of comfort.

    Reply

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