Good news! I did it. I left the party early. I know I shouldn’t have been there in the first place. That was my first mistake. But my guard was down and I just bounded into the room without thinking. It wasn’t long before I realized I was headed for a day filled with regret if I didn’t leave soon. Besides, it wasn’t all that exciting, me being the only guest and all…
Pity-Parties are like that…lonely and lame. Filled with thoughts and words that I later wish I could un-think and un-hear. But like I said, this time I did it differently. I showed up ready and rarin’ to let loose as usual, but before I got caught up in the frenzy of emotions that are the trademark of any solid Pity-Party, I made myself pause and pray before I proceeded. Now I am happy to say that I have moved on with my day, free from the aftermath and emotional hangover that comes when I “party” too hard, stay too late.
Here’s how I got to the party in the first place (and this is just one example of a hundred other times I have been previously lured in. See if it sounds familiar to you): I came across a book I got from a dear friend almost a whole year ago. In fact, when I cracked the cover I discovered an unopened Christmas card from her (Sorry, friend!). It has an attractive cover so it has been displayed in my living room. The book was written by one of my favorite authors of all time, a woman younger than me who writes like I wish I could (…I start feeling the beginnings of what might be jealousy). I open the book to accolades from other authors and see that they are from some of the best authors in their field. People I read and adore and revere (that feeling starts to grow bigger).
I turn a couple pages and read her intro explaining why she wrote this book and why it is so close to her heart. That’s when I am reminded why it’s taken me a year to even open to page one. It’s called “Bread and Wine”. She is a phenomenal writer; smart, witty, poignant (which causes my jealously meter to rise a few more degrees). But, she is also touching on issues that I would rather not talk about. She expressed how much she loves to have dinner parties and share good bread, food and wine around the table. This pushes me over the edge. How the heck does someone whose family is struck with the disease of alcoholism get to enjoy this book? Why should I even bother reading it? It is making me mad, quite frankly. Mad and filled with self-pity.
Because now I am comparing myself and my life on several different levels and I feel like I am holding the short end of the stick. Actually, I am feeling like I am stuck holding a prickly, dirty branch and SHE is holding a golden, magic wand. I have a conversation (one-sided though it may be) with God that goes something like this, “Why can’t I write like that? Why does she get to have famous writers sing her praises? How come she didn’t have to even have cancer to be able to write something that matters? Why doesn’t she have to deal with addiction and gets to have dinner parties with wine? Why can’t my life look more like hers?” And I am even pretty certain that the bread and wine she keeps talking about isn’t even going to her hips or belly like it does on most humans. “Why does God seem to love her so much more than He loves me?”.
This is where the sanity-check comes in. When I stopped the insanity long enough listen to my thoughts and feel the emotions rising in me, I realized that I had a choice. And I chose to leave the Party early.
A wise woman named Kay Warren teaches on this important concept of self-pity. She calls it the WITTY Principal: What Is That To You? It’s based on a teaching of Jesus’ that goes something like this: A man agreed to be paid a specific wage for a day’s work. When he found out another man had been paid the same wage for half a day’s work he argued with his employer. The employer logically addresses this by asking him, “Didn’t you agree to work for that price for a whole day? Then why are you worried about how much I pay someone else? How is that any of your business?” Everything in us screams, “But that’s not fair!”
As another wise woman I know always replies to that complaint:
“FAIR is where you go to get a corndog.” Life is NOT fair. But some other things that are not fair are ok with me. I get to live in America and not Haiti. That’s not really “fair”. Leukemia didn’t kill me. That’s not really “fair” either.
My kids don’t have disabilities or chronic pain or trouble making friends. Also not “fair.” There are many many people who would look at my life and feel like they are holding the short stick in comparison.
As usual, my daily reading coincided nicely, and divinely, with my little episode this morning. It talked about focusing on what I DO have rather than what I DON’T. Not on what I wish I had that someone else seems to have already secured. Here are two of the ending quotes: “If I can’t recognize the love (also read: gifts or blessings) that already exists in my life, would I really appreciate receiving more? Let me acknowledge what has already been given to me” and, “If the only prayer you said your whole life was ‘thank you’, that would suffice.” -Meister Eckhart
So there you have it. An embarrassing but triumphant story of escape from an enticing but pathetic party. Perhaps someday I’ll hit delete before I even open the invite, but for now, I choose to celebrate the small victory of early Pity-Party departure.