Cancel all pity parties
How does God get your attention? Fr. James asked in his homily. Well, there are all sorts of ways I could answer that question. But yesterday it was this: with a phone call from my hermit friend while I was deep in the throes of mindless Sunday lounging, feeling awfully sorry for myself. I just feel blah, I told him. But with a little encouragement—Go for a walk! Pray! Read a book! Write!—and some probing questions, I was back to my usual self, talking a million miles a minute and soliciting advice about my current dilemmas.
Nothing to it.
I can throw a mean pity party. All it takes is a masterful amalgamation of self-pity, annoyance, desperation, and navel-gazing. Throw in some dashed hopes, an unmade bed, and an iPhone and you're golden. What exactly is it about self-pity, that sneaky brand of welcome misery, that is somehow so gratifying? Those worn refrains of Woe is me! Life is hard! Sigh! roll right off the tongue, and as they do, the self-pity grows all the more stubborn and deep. And where do I find myself? Grumpy, depressed, and probably insufferable to be around. Blah indeed.
So yes, I think it would behoove me to adopt an automatic cancellation policy for any pity party that arises, scheduled or no. But the alternative is not some Pollyana approach, a naive avoidance of anything that causes me pain, a looking on the bright side while brushing under the rug the real sorrows of my heart.
So what is the alternative? What can I instate as my go-to remedy for those moments when I'm approaching that slippery self-pity slope?
I don't know. I haven't come up with any earth-shattering answers. I'm just as prone to my old pity parties ways today, I think, as I was yesterday. But I'll tell you what I did after that conversation with my hermit friend. (Right after about five or six more YouTube videos, that is. Just keeping it real.) I drove the 15 minutes to my nearby adoration chapel and settled in for an hour. I know without a doubt that time spent in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament changes me. I read a little, wrote a little, and mostly just sat in the silence. I chuckled at the thought of Jesus throwing Himself a pity party. (Preposterous.) I turned over my woes to God, allowing Him to bring me out of myself, into the comfort of His embrace.
I think the main difference is this: pity parties are exclusively solitary events, while suffering well—the antithesis of pity parties, I believe—requires another. It is not good for the man to be alone, God said. He spoke those words about Adam in the Garden of Eden as He brought the world into being, and He spoke those words about me in my bedroom yesterday as my pity party raged. So, doting Father that He is, He prompted my hermit friend to call, gave me the urge to pluck myself out of bed, invited me to come waste time with Him, then sent me to my mom's for a movie night.
And just like that, the party was over.
Perhaps the answer I'm looking for is this: let God get my attention. He has a million creative ways to do so, and He never tires of trying. I can stubbornly avert my gaze all I want, but in my heart of hearts, I really do want to be saved from that misery-inducing tendency of mine.
So, I hereby declare all pity parties of mine cancelled, effective immediately. Instead, I plan to make myself available to that call of God leading me to a celebration far superior.
(Spoiler alert: I hear it lasts forever.)