Self-pity has been called the great emotional pacifier. If that’s true, I probably have a cleft in my lip from sucking on mine. Last week, I experienced disappointment as a humdinger sinus infection kept me from a much anticipated conference. A few other “calamities” coincided. Just enough to send me spiraling into a royal case of “Woe is me”.
The problem with a pacifier is that it may soothe for a while, but not a drop of milk comes out of it. After a while, it just becomes a rubbery mess that doesn’t satisfy. I finally reached that point, feeling miserable enough to change what I was doing. I’ve felt sorry for myself often enough to know exactly the antidote I needed. It always involves less me time, more knee time and reaching out to help someone else.
On Friday, I went to see my friend Dorothy. Dorothy is eighty years old. Her world consists mainly of her tiny living room, cramped on every side by old newspapers, broken furniture and dime store reminders of days long gone. Dorothy consistently refuses to let anyone clear out her living space. At her age, ties to the past are too fragile for the blunt edge of a cleanup. She has made herself quite content with the sofa she lays on and one questionable chair reserved for visitors.
While Dorothy’s surroundings are meager, her love is lavish. She always greets me as if I’d just been rescued from years on a deserted island. Face beaming, she reaches out to embrace me, exclaiming, “God bless you, Baby! Oh, I am so glad to see you. How you been? How’s dem girls?” News of our simplest goings on can send her into fits of rapture. I will risk the rickety chair any day just to bask in her affection.
When I left Dorothy’s, I stopped by to check on my friend Catherine. Catherine is a single mom with two children and a growing case of cancer. Her pocket-sized apartment sits in a neighborhood where you don’t let your children play outside, day or night. She gets a disability check the first of each month, but the money always seems to run out before the month does. When she had a visitor last week, she prayed the person would not ask to use the bathroom since she had no money to buy toilet paper and was relying on torn napkins from McDonald’s until the first.
Pulling out of Catherine’s, I felt like a different person. Here I had been fretting over missing a trip I will likely make next year. Dorothy won’t be making any such trip, and Catherine may not have a next year. Yet, both of them radiate a joy that’s contagious. Thank God they are willing to let me come and drink from their waters whenever I need the boost. I don’t know what I would do without them.
May you feel His grace today,
The last Word:
Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom He promised those who love Him?
James 2:5, NIV.