A couple of weeks ago I asked an associate to pick me up me a cup of coffee when he went out for an afternoon break. He did. Since I take cream and sugar in my coffee, I looked all over the church for some form of sugar to put in it, and couldn’t find any anywhere. Even though there were at least three people who could have helped solve the problem, I didn’t ask for help. I just poured out the coffee. It felt better to feel sorry for myself than it did to solve the problem.
I wish I could tell you that this was the first time I had ever felt sorry for myself, but I’m sure you’d know better. Truth is, at times I’m something of an artist at it. Given the right mood, the right circumstances, and just the right amount of self-absorption, I can not only feel sorry for myself, I can influence you to do something to “make” me feel that way.
Like the time in Mrs. Trimble’s class in fourth grade when I kept whining and crying, “Nobody likes me. Nobody!”
“I like you,” Skipper Grizzle said. (Skipper was a great guy.)
“No you don’t!” I accused.
“Okay, I don’t like you.”
Over the years, as I’ve perfected the craft, I think I’ve passed the Crybaby, Pouter, and Passive-Aggressive stages. Yes, friends, I have achieved the level of Self-Pidiot. A self-pidiot is somebody who can feel sorry for himself and make YOU feel good at the same time.
And then feel sorrier for himself that you feel so dang good.
I’m talkin’ skills, people.
Let me hasten to say that I’m not alone. There are quite a few self-pidiots out there. You probably know one or two.
The good news, if there is any, is that I’m in some pretty good company. There’s even a self-pidiot in the Bible. His name: Asaph. He tells his story in Psalm 73, and boy can I relate. Asaph was all whiny over why wicked people had an easier life than he. But he did the world a favor and let us inside is self-pidiot head.
Why People Feel Sorry For Themselves
What would turn an otherwise-intelligent, even godly individual into a self-pidiot? Start with jealousy. Nothing gets a pouter on his low horse quicker than somebody getting something he thought he deserved, or somebody (even God) violating his sense of justice.
Sometimes we stoop to self-pidiocy when we feel rejected or overlooked. Like Asaph, we’ll say things like, “I’ve been stupid to play by the rules; what has it gotten me?” (Psalm 73:13, The Message).
Exhaustion can certainly play a role. Vince Lombardi once said, “Fatigue makes cowards of us all.” Well, coach, it can also make self-pidiots of us all, if “all day long, we’ve been plagued and chastened” (Psalm 73:14).
Wanna know the ultimate reason? I would never admit this, but my psalmist friend came clean with it: “I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you” (Psalm 73:22). This is helpful if you’re dealing with a self-pidiot. They are senseless – they choose to ignore what they already know. And/or, they are ignorant – that is, they need to learn something new. They’re either denying the facts or they’re unaware of all of them.
What Self-Pidiots Say to Themselves
Self-pidiots often drop the “F-word” – fair. They’ll say things like “Yeah, God is good, but He isn’t fair.” They use those extreme words that are almost always inaccurate – always and never. Sometimes they’ll use that old Mama whine: “After all I’ve done for _____, this is the thanks I get.” Or deep in the idiot pit, they’ll moan stuff like, “It’s no use,” “Why bother,” or “What good is it?” Here’s how Asaph put it:
I’ve received no reward for keeping my life pure
and washing my hands of any blame.
I’m plagued with problems all day long,
and every morning my punishment begins again. (Psalms 73:13-14, GWT)
What Self-Pidiots Need to Learn
If self-pidiots aren’t playing with a full deck, what do we need so badly to learn?
- Things are not always what they appear to be. Like Asaph, it’s time to get another perspective. “I thought these senseless and ignorant things,” he said “until I went to the sanctuary of God – there I perceived their end.” That’ll change your view! Guess what? There’s another way to see the world other than the one that’s completely centered on yourself!
- Our success in life does not depend on where we are, but where we are headed. Asaph, in true self-pidiot fashion, had become discouraged because of where the circumstances appeared to be for the moment. But from God’s perspective, He saw how things would turn out – not in his crybaby imagination, but in the truth of God’s promises.
- GOD is “what’s in it for you!” The theme throughout this psalm has been, “What do I have in return for all my service to God? The unrighteous do not serve Him, yet they prosper. What’s in it for me?” After his time on the pity pot, Asaph realizes that nothing can compare with the rich treasure of intimacy with God. He realized that the Lord is his reward in heaven (v. 25), his real desire on earth (v. 25), his strength for daily living (v. 26) and his refuge (v. 28). He sums it up by saying, “The nearness of the Lord is my good.“
How God Handles Self-Pidiots
Know what I love about God? He doesn’t beat his jackasses like Balaam did. And when His servants pout, He doesn’t pout back. He just loves them stubbornly, and guides them patiently. “Even though I behaved like a senseless animal,” Asaph said,
Nevertheless, I am continually with you;
you hold my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will receive me to glory. Psalms 73:23-24, ESV
Maybe there is wisdom there for how we can treat the piners and whiners in our lives. When the self-pidiots in your life are out making deliveries on the pout route, just love them stubbornly. And if you really want to mess with them, at just the right time, confuse them with the facts. They’ll love you for it.
Sooner or later.