Was there ever a question that has caused more damage?
I realize that many of us have difficult circumstances, and that it truly is hard to fulfill some of our responsibilities. We do become tired, and should take a break so we are refreshed to get back up and care for those God has called us to serve. But sometimes that sneaky little thought creeps into our mind and throws everything off balance…
“What about me? Who will care for me and serve me?”
I’m not sure there is a faster way to give yourself a bad day than to ask that question.
Wasn’t that a form of the question Satan asked when he rebelled against God?
Beware of any belief that makes you self-indulgent; it came from the pit, no matter how beautiful it sounds.
– Oswald Chambers
It’s an insidious question that sinks into our hearts and souls. Like Peter in the Bible, we quit looking at Christ and begin to sink into the waves. In this case, our waves are self-pity.
Sometimes we refuse to do the things that give us peace and relief from our burdens. Even simple things like reading our Bibles, getting to bed at a reasonable time, accepting that break our husband offers us, or making time to get outside for a walk. We refuse to do these things and then we begin to blame our exhaustion on the people who love us most.
Does this make sense? (No.)
We ask ourselves (and maybe whine to our friends) why no one cares about us, why our kids won’t leave us alone for just “one minute”, why we can’t have “me time”, or why our husband would dare to have any needs at all. I think the common phrase is “he’s a big boy, he can take care of himself…doesn’t he know how tired I am?”. How demeaning. That is of course what we would want him to say about us and our needs…right?
I’ll tell you a little secret.
Not one person enjoys spending time with a martyr. Even those of us who behave like one would rather not spend time with one…
Husbands are not really attracted to martyrs. They don’t think it’s cute. Don’t ask how I know this.
Children are uncomfortable in the presence of martyr mothers.
Once I remember venting my frustration to my mother-in-law about the a small amount of time I had to myself each day. She asked how much time I could usually count on. When I told her it was only about 45 minutes, she tactfully said “oh, that’s probably enough”. I can still remember thinking to myself that there was no way that was enough time to myself! NO WAY! But I kept thinking about what she said. And I have come to realize that yes, I can do a lot of regrouping in 45 minutes!
Conventional wisdom (in the Bible it’s called “the wisdom of the world”) says that we should look out for ourselves, take care of ourselves, that we deserve “me time”. (I do think we should plan times into our day to refresh ourselves for our responsibilities, but not to the detriment of our families, and we certainly shouldn’t put it on them to make us take care of ourselves.)
The Bible tells us that the wisdom of God is foolishness to the world. His ways are not our ways, and certainly not what comes naturally. We have to battle with sin and selfishness. We must serve others continuously if we want to be great in God’s kingdom.
Self pity is one of the most reprehensible sins of the human heart. ”
– A. W. Tozer
It is humbling to admit that I asked myself this question just last week. I was going along, enjoying my kids, having a good day, when something caught my attention. I was tired, and not thinking about “taking every thought captive”. I crashed into the dark “what about me”, and suddenly life wasn’t so great anymore. Everyone in my home suffered for my sin, because I am not the wife and mother I should be when I am living in self-pity.
God is so patient with us. He continues to give us grace. Thankfully, His mercies are new every morning.
[A way to guard] ourselves from this evil possession (self-pity) is to think about others. Be quick to discern their pains and sufferings, and be ready to bring help. We cannot be absorbed in thinking of two things at the same time, and if our minds are occupied with others, far and near, at home and abroad, we shall have neither time nor inclination to be sorry for ourselves.
– Charlotte Mason, Ourselves