Your Pity Party Isn't Cutting It

So there I was, having a nice little pity party for one---beating myself up pretty hard because I'd said something dumb and mean... again.  It was one of those moments when, as the words were coming out of my mouth, I realized they were hurtful and ridiculous.

But I couldn't take them back because they'd already made their way out into the universe and into the ears of everyone in the room.

Which was why I decided to have a pity party, and it was going swimmingly.  The usual party-goers were there: Shame and Guilt (I've written about them before here). And Self-Loathing decided to crash the whole thing, along with Self-Pity, who heard there was a pity party and just had to come.

The faith tradition of my youth celebrated these kinds of gatherings as a necessary step toward the ultimate realization that you were nothing but pond scum, unloveable, awful and riddled with the stench and stain of sinfulness.

There are times when I find myself still carrying a pretty heavy load of that guilty baggage that I picked up all those many years ago.  I'll look at those well-traveled, bulging suitcases and think to myself, "You again?  I thought I got rid of you." 

What I've come to understand more clearly, however, is that Shame, Guilt, Self-Pity, and Self-Loathing almost never lead me to the real transformation that I long for.  Instead, they just keep adding items to my baggage, making them heavier and heavier. 

I recently read this bit of wisdom from Richard Rohr that really resonated with me:
We grow spiritually much more by doing it wrong than by doing it right.
That might just be the central message of how spiritual growth happens, yet nothing in us wants to believe it, and those who deem themselves morally successful are often the last to learn it. 
All of us stumble.  All of us make mistakes, say the wrong thing, act out of pettiness and smallness...  All of us have moments when we fall short of being the people God dreams for us to be...  We share this in common as sure as we share our common humanity.

But we are not defined by our failures.  We are defined by what we learn from them, how we move forward from them and set down the baggage of shame, guilt, and negative self-talk.  

And we are ultimately defined by how we open up to receive God's amazing grace and allow ourselves to be transformed by it.  

May it be so for you today and every day.  And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen. 


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