Self-Pity: Your Worst Enemy

February 17, 2002

SELF-PITY: YOUR WORST ENEMY By Ray Pritchard The story I am about to tell is true but the details have been changed. Once upon a time there was a man who had a great job as a high-school English teacher. He knew his subject inside and out and enjoyed working with his students. A few years ago he was voted Best Teacher by the student body. He had 24 years under his belt and his star seemed to be rising. When I met him, he had just moved from a distant state, over 600 miles away, hoping to restart his life. It turned out that over a period of several years, he had engaged in a series of inappropriate sexual relationships that were uncovered by chance when someone happened to see a revealing e-mail on his computer. The principal found out, then the school board, and soon he was out of a job and publicly disgraced. He still wonders why he did what he did. Part of it involves the power and danger of the Internet. That includes the ready availability of pornography and the easy anonymity of chat rooms where you can assume any identity you choose. One thing led to another and to another and soon he was hooked, then he was trapped, then he was caught, and finally he was exposed. One thing he said sticks in the mind. After he lost his job, he joined a group of men struggling with the same issues. “It’s a tough group,” he said. “No bull, no funny business, no excuses. It’s rigorous. If you want to play games, you’d better go somewhere else.” Some men have done more, others less, but all are in the same boat, struggling to find their way to freedom. “The group taught me that self-pity is the enemy of healing. In fact, self-pity is my worst enemy. As long as I feel sorry for myself, I can’t face the consequences of my own choices.” I pondered his words after he left. As long as we feel sorry for ourselves, and bemoan our situation, we can’t get better. We end up blaming others instead of taking personal responsibility. Self-pity makes it easy to live in the past, wandering through the graveyard of a thousand “what-ifs.” Self-pity chains us to our defeats so that we use the past as an excuse not to get better. And it makes us more likely to do the same stupid thing all over again. Proverbs 28:13 shows us the way forward: “He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” Which being translated means, “Those who feel sorry for themselves will never get better, but those who come clean will find the mercy they seek.”

Do you have any thoughts or questions about this post?