I’m a party girl. Not the rootin’ tootin’ dance on a table top, swing from a chandelier “girl-gone-wild” type. I’m more of the games, themed decorations, cutesy door prizes soiree socialite. What I enjoy even more than attending parties is planning them. In the past few decades I helped organize 11 weddings, more than 60 business events, 12 bridal showers, 22 baby showers, and at least 35 birthday bashes.Planning parties meshes so much of what I love –people, food, expressions of connection, and fun activities — into one afternoon or evening.

Sometimes I throw a different type of party all together. The pity party.

A few weeks ago in the middle of what I like to call a crazy-making day, I decided to throw a party of the pity variety and deemed myself the worthy honoree. You know the kind of day I’m writing about. Mine started with a cold shower, spilled coffee, lost library books, misplaced keys, and bickering children. The post-dawn frenzy spun into me snapping at my kids, slamming my heel with the car door, and squirming in a 45-minute traffic jam because I drank too much coffee before spilling it all over my blouse.

The day only worsened as it ticked on. One mishap joined another until I was spent faster than a fifty-dollar bill in Target. I returned depleted to a messy house, and I morphed into the toastmaster of my personal woe-filled hullabaloo. I stomped. I pouted. I cried. I’ll save you from the gloomy itinerary of the rest of my pity party except to say it included me ceremoniously proclaiming myself as a second-class citizen in my own home. Not. Good.

I invited a friend to the festivities.

I shared the every gritty detail of my day, expecting her to tell me that it was permissible for me to wallow. But she didn’t. Instead, she validated that I had the right to feel crummy, but encouraged me to press into Jesus for endurance. She reminded me that everything that happened to me that day didn’t deserve the power to keep tripping me up. She was right.

It’s critical to allow oneself to feel all the feelings that come with disappointments and tough days. Sitting with our emotions and examining them is one of the key components to rising after an emotional fall. It’s natural and healthy to stare a setback head on and think, “This stinks,” or “This hurts,” or even ask probing questions like, “Am I really mad about losing my keys or is there something else driving this anger?”

Naming pain and falling into the pity party trap are two completely different coping mechanisms.

When I process painful emotions, I lean into Jesus. My faith in His love and promises comfort me as I hurt. When I compile a mental list of how I’ve been wronged by the universe and fall into self-pity mode, my focus shifts from what is pure and soul-healing to what I think I deserve.

After I talked to my dear friend, a scripture song written by Rob and Wendy Jacobson flooded my mind.

“The joy of the Lord will be my strength. I will not falter. I will not faint. He will be with me for all of my days. The joy of the Lord is my strength.”

Recalling a melody I had learned while in college more than 20 years ago, helped untangle the mess of the day.

Jesus doesn’t promise that our days will brim with one happy moment after another. But the joy we have in Him and through Him and because of Him provides the fortitude to make it through the rough stuff.

Though my day included a multitude of mishaps that opened up feelings of fear, inadequacy, and frustration, it also contained blessings that I barely noticed until I shifted away from self-pity. A co-worker took the time to tell me how much she appreciates my insight; new friend presented me with a lovely and unexpected gift; my son hugged me tight and told me that I’m beautiful.

Turning my heart back to the Source of Joy enabled me to turn my pity party into a praise party.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” {James 1:2-4, NIV}

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  • Bev @ Walking Well With God

    Oh how I needed this after my day yesterday. Like you, I can throw a pretty elaborate pity party. When I read this spot-on post, it struck me that having a pity party is static…it’s stuck…not going anywhere. Whereas, processing your emotions, leaning into God, persevering…those are all active, moving forward kinds of words. It’s okay to have those feelings, but God doesn’t want us staying stuck there. I so needed this reminder to remember the joy of the Lord when my day is crazy-making. Not that I’ll be all happy happy, but I can remember my ultimate reason for joy. This pity party planning girl needed this post!
    Bev xx

    • Angela Nazworth

      “It’s okay to have those feelings, but God doesn’t want us staying stuck there.” – Yes. This exactly! Hugs to you, Bev!

  • Dawn

    ” She reminded me that everything that happened to me that day didn’t deserve the power to keep tripping me up. She was right.”

    Love this. God deserves everything I have to give, not daily frustrations. I want to refocus.

    • Angela Nazworth

      Thank you for joining the conversation, Dawn!

  • A

    Thank you Angela for this beautiful post-I needed it so desperately in this time of trial. Praise to the Lord for this wonderful teaching. Praying that we all look to Him for victory in perseverance through His love :)

    • Angela Nazworth

      His love provides so much comfort. Praying for you this morning as you walk with Him through tirals.

  • https://www.nighthowells.wordpress.com Jenny Howell

    “Faster than a $50 bill at Target…”SO TRUE! I feel you. My most well attended and sadly…most memorable pity parties for my family to remember are Sunday mornings. Always struggling to get out the door, trying to not elevate my Mom voice (scream), and things always go so wrong. Its a typical Pastors wife morning of drama. Thanks for the reminder to see that most of the time, we stay at the party far too long!

    • Angela Nazworth

      Oh Sunday mornings! The devil loves Sunday mornings! Let’s band together and have a “No Pity Party Sunday!”

  • Inspired Life

    Yup, I can certainly relate to the chain of events that could lead to the Pity Party. And I know from experience that acknowledging where we are in the moment, and calling on the NAME OF JESUS works to help us process the emotion. There are times I literally have to call his name aloud to gain footing and not wallow. Here’s to putting my dancing shoes on having a praise party!!!

  • Angela Parlin

    So so true, my friend. I fall into the pity party trap more often than I’d like to admit. Thanks for sharing the truth of it, and pointing us the right way. Loved it! Needed it! :)

  • Joanne Peterson

    Angela, wow, you are a party girl! Love that. What you described in your day is what I refer to as “Being nibbled to death by a duck”. I borrowed this term from someone else, and it means all of the things individually isn’t anything big, but add everything up together and it gets really stressful. And yes, it is important to acknowledge our feelings, press into Jesus, and change our self talk, and then our feelings change with our self talk and our focus on scripture. Still need A LOT of practice with this. But, it does change me. Thank you for this timely reminder! Blessings, Joanne

  • Nancy Ruegg

    Thank you, Angela, for your honesty and insight. You are so right that pity parties are actually detrimental, not therapeutic. And I greatly appreciate the strategies you implied for leaning into Jesus: expressing faith in him (and perhaps listing the reasons why) and affirming applicable promises. What better ways to weaken the power of pity over us?!

  • Diana

    Thank you for this little wake-up call, this reminder to me of the difference between coming to God and pouring out my heart, as it says iin Psalms, and just stewing about all that is wrong in my world and burning off the ears ofr whoever will listen. The Psalms often list all kinds of hrash thinh=gs happening, but they almost all without fail say something like “Yet will I praise you, O Lord. You are my refuge and strength. In you I have all I need, I have victory.

  • http://anchoredvoices.blogspot.com Chara

    Yes! May we press into our Jesus with all we are when the world is heavy. I love how you made a distinction between the two ways we can process and how on leads to life and the other death. Thanks for reminding us with your words.