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Posts Tagged ‘self-pity’

I thought I had cured myself of being a ‘glass half empty’ person. I thought I had learnt to be more grateful for family and friends, for the lovely things I own and the wonderful experiences I have had. Yet now and then, I hear this peevish, little voice inside me complaining about something I have missed out on or pointing out things tantalisingly beyond my reach. ‘Yes, you have that,’ it says, ‘but … well, you could have had this instead. Look what you’ve missed out on yet again!’

Recently, I received an email announcing the results of a short story competition I entered months ago. In it, I discovered that, while I did not win, my story was among the ten best entries and that, as a result, I would receive $150. This was a pleasant surprise, especially since I had forgotten all about the competition. But then came that ‘glass half empty’ moment when I remembered that the first prize was ten times that amount—$1500. Immediately, my joy in winning my $150 was dimmed. ‘I could have done lots with that $1500,’ I grumbled. ‘The email says that choosing a winner was difficult. Probably I just missed out.’

Thankfully, God soon intervened and I began to laugh at myself—especially when I remembered that the basic story idea had emerged from something someone else told me rather than from any cleverness on my part. Yes, I embellished it and put time and effort into polishing it up, after gaining my friend’s permission. But in reality, as I believe God showed me, this story was a gift from the very beginning—and any prize I received was an added bonus.

I suspect all of us can think of things or experiences we would very much like to have, including those we may have enjoyed in a past role or setting. Recently, I attended a funeral back at the church where we spent many years and, while it was good to honour our friend who had passed away, see other old friends and be in a place we had loved so much, it was also rather painful to realise those days are well and truly gone now. For a while, I indulged in a little self-pity, but then God reminded me of lessons learnt back then and the wonderful life experiences I have had since, including my writing journey.

I may yearn for times past or for things beyond my reach, for one reason or another, yet it is unhealthy to stay in this negative, ‘glass half empty’ space, isn’t it? Instead, I am called to live fully and realistically in the present moment with God, noticing what there is for me to do right now and doing it with all my heart. And I am also called to be thankful and at peace, knowing God is with me, whatever is happening or not happening around me.

May I soon learn to see that glass not as half empty at all, but gloriously half full—indeed, constantly brimming over with God’s grace and goodness and incredible love!

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

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I hate to admit it, but sometimes I can become so good at feeling sorry for myself for one reason or another that all the lovely things around me do not get a look-in. Instead of stepping back and seeing the whole picture, I focus in on only one little part—and perhaps even the darkest, most uninteresting part at that. At times too, I can be so busy airing my woes that those various gentle, encouraging words spoken or sent to me simply go unheard or ignored.

Does this scenario sound familiar to you? I hope not—but I suspect we all might fall into this trap at times.

Recently, I tried to begin arranging some more speaking engagements for the coming year, but soon gave up. It’s all too hard, I decided. What groups or organisations want to arrange anything right now, given all this COVID uncertainty? Even if some events are set up, no doubt they will need to be postponed, just like many of my speaking engagements were last year.

In the midst of this delightful bout of self-pity, an email popped into my inbox from a lady I met way back in 2013 when I spoke at an event at her church in another state and have not seen since. In it, she told me she had been looking for a book to read when she thought of me. She had enjoyed my most recent novel when it was released a year ago and wondered if I was writing another one—perhaps a sequel? Then she added a few, final, lovely words: Your inspirational writing is very needed.

In my self-pitying state, I almost missed this simple, little, closing sentence. I read it, but I did not take time to savour her words or truly allow them to encourage me—at least, not then. But thankfully, God alerted me to this state of affairs soon after via yet another encouraging email, this time from a lady I have never met. She told me she had ‘been fortunate enough’ to find my first two novels, Heléna and All the Days of My Life, in a ‘Save the Children’ op shop and wanted to enquire about another of my books. Then she concluded by thanking me for the truly Christian perspective in my novels.

At that point, I began to realise God was up to something. Yes, these women had written my two lovely, little emails, but God had surely inspired them to do so to spur me on to keep going in the coming year. What an Encourager God truly can be to us each day via the Spirit in us and via others, as we listen and take note! And how important it is to pass this encouragement on too, just as these women did for me.

Today, whatever is happening in your life, may you too hear and truly receive God’s gentle encouragement deep in your spirit. May you not miss those moments, as I almost did. And may God use us all to reach out and encourage others as often as we can.

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Hebrews 10:24

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I almost missed it. There I was, so busy feeling sorry for myself because of my continuing lower back trouble that when the doorbell rang, all I could think of was the annoying fact that I had to get up to answer it. I asked the delivery man to put the box he was holding on the floor for me and decided not to open it at first. After all, I knew what was in it.

Soon curiosity got the better of me, however, and I opened the box to find twenty brand spanking new books there, hot off the press. I took one back to my bed and flipped through it.

‘That’s nice,’ I thought – then put it aside, still determined to feel sorry for myself.

Not long after, my husband came home.

‘A present for you,’ he said cheerily, as he threw a small parcel from our letterbox onto my bed.

In it, I found three audio CDs I also knew were coming.

‘That’s nice,’ I thought – and put them aside as well.

But then a challenging thought managed to worm its way through the cloak of self-pity I had wrapped firmly around me.

‘Look at you! You prayed this morning for God to encourage you – and now you’re letting this “dog in the manger” attitude spoil everything. Open your eyes! Wake up!’

I did just that. I picked up the book and CDs again and looked carefully at them. They were complimentary gifts, sent to say ‘thank you’ to me. You see, the book was ’40 Aussie Stories’,  just released by Strand Publishing, and among those stories were two of my blogs I had written for this very site during the past year. I had not submitted them to be included in this collection. Instead, the publisher had somehow found my blogs online and written to ask if he could use two or three of them in his book. And of course I was very happy for him to do so.

As for the CDs, they were from the Christian Blind Mission International in Melbourne. Some time back I had provided them with copies of my novels to record for people with print disabilities. I knew the first three had been professionally narrated and recorded, and now my contact there had sent me copies of these. As I examined them, I noted they had been narrated by Joy Westmore, a well-known Australian actor who has starred in various TV series such as ‘Prisoner’, ‘Neighbours’ and ‘Blue Heelers’, as well as playing many stage and screen roles.

I saw then how blessed I was that my writing had been used in such interesting ways to minister to others. But on top of that, here was God arranging that these gifts would arrive within minutes of each other on the very day I most needed encouragement. This was God’s grace reaching out to me, I realised – and I had nearly missed it.

In Hebrews 12:15 we read:

See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.

I had almost fallen into that trap – despite having written a novel with this specific verse as its theme! I immediately paused to thank God yet again for rescuing me and encouraging me in such amazing and timely way.

How about you? Have you missed out on seeing God’s grace at work in your own life lately?

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