I think if Pixar would turn me into a superhero they would have to name me 'Whiny Victim Girl'. The opening shot would have me buried under a giant pile of to-do lists, my superhero costume hung neatly on a hanger with the tags still on, never worn. Of course at this point the artists and screen writers would realize that there's nothing super-heroish about a woman who can't find her way around a to-do list, and instead I'd become a minor character. Someone Elastigirl saves, perhaps. Maybe I'd be the plucky comic relief.
I'm not trying to be a downer. This season of life is busy right now, and most of the time that's just fine. At some point, however, my list gets too long, I fumble in my attempt to prioritize them and before I know it, I've become so overwhelmed that I feel powerless to do anything but survive the day to day and hope that something gives along the way.
I've managed to climb out from under enough of my real-life lists to realize that I've when I'm not bogging myself down by unreasonable expectations, I'm feeling sorry for myself. In my mind it usually plays out as my being underappreciated; that way, you see, I can spin it so that others aren't realizing how great I am, rather than me having to take responsibility and beat back my over-inflated sense of self.
Feeling sorry for myself: I'm very good at it. Almost as good as I am at not being gentle on myself. Almost, but not quite. I've come a long way in learning to be gentle on myself; I still have my moments and always will but I have friends and family who know me well enough to tell me to knock it off. You need people like that in your life.
Playing the victim is the easy way out, though and I realize that. It's part of why I like to spin the responsibility for how I'm feeling onto other people. My current victim card is 'My life is harder/busier/more stressful than anyone else's'. Secretly in my head I'm adding (while cringing with shame): 'If only they knew how good they had it.'
I ought to leave that there. I ought to post this and leave it so that here, in black and white, there is evidence of how selfish and juvenile I can be, despite whatever appearance I give off in my day-to-day existence. (Did you catch that subtle change of direction down the path of none-too-gentle? Tricky stuff...)
But really, God wouldn't leave it there. He'd take it, wash it and forget it. Over and over and over and over...
A few weeks ago I listened to a podcast by a local pastor about Paul's journey (shipwreck) on the way to Rome. It was a powerful message, and if you like, you can listen to it here.
At the end of the message was a beautiful prayer, and it moved me so deeply that I actually took the time to transcribe most of it. Here's a snippet:
Father in Heaven, so long ago you came to Job and his life became very very difficult. ...he didn't always understand, and sometimes, Lord, we with Job don't always understand. We know we're called to that patience. We know we're called to that kind of submission.
...We want to understand; we really want control. And yet Father, if we had control, those wonderful little surprises that you give to us, that marvelous care that we didn't expect, the great glory that you show of yourself... we would never see it. But now, Father, we do and we are marveling in it again, for we quickly forget all the things you've done for us. Father, it's about our faith. It's about YOU. It's about using us in different situations to spread the good news that Jesus lives, and that you are a gracious and merciful God to all who call you Father in Jesus.
Help us to learn to study your Word, to take ourselves out of the center and put you front and center; to stop looking at our lives in terms of what makes us happy but to see what pleases you. And Father, when we get tired and we stumble and we struggle, when we can't figure it out and sometimes we're just sad and tired, let us remember this story, how you take care of your people in strange and marvelous ways.
Strange and marvelous ways... ways we would more than likely never choose or desire. One of the names for the Lord is 'Wonderful' (Judges 13:18, Isaiah 9:6); I'll often say that God is good. The world will often say that God is love. All are true. But how often do we marvel, full of wonder, at His wonderfulness? His ways are strange and marvellous and wonderful.
I don't know about you, but the next time I'm about to play my 'Victim' card, I pray that the Spirit will drop my ungrateful self to my knees to seek Wonderful, and open my eyes to His strange, marvellous and awesome ways.
If only I knew and remembered each day how good I have it.