It is very easy for me to enter the state of Woe Is Me. In fact, I spend so much time there, I'm sure it's an actual place with a zip code. I could have my bills and junk mail delivered there.
In my own mind, my problems seem to be much harder than anyone else's. The list of injustices and slights against me is long and repetitive enough to bore even me -- yet another unfairness, because my troubles aren't as interesting as what other people experience.
So, after a rather difficult week, and then weekend plans derailed by a cold, I woke up this morning to learn that there was no water. I took it personally and immediately packed my bags for WIM. I'm telling you, the border guards know me on sight I've been there so often.
Recounting my troubles becomes a comforting reassurance that I have every right to feel as abused/misused/refused as I want to. I settle into the woeful wallow right there in Woe Is Me and prepare myself for a good old pity party. I survey the landscape of complaints laid out before me, and count each one to make sure none have gone missing.
I exaggerate here for dramatic effect of course, but certainly there are times when I do dwell on my woes and treat them more tenderly than I should. However, sooner or later(sometimes more later than I would like) I remember that there are people enduring real trials and tribulations while I fanny about with the press releases (catch the quote?) and I offer my challenges for those people.
That's how God works. In the Divine Economy it is called redemptive suffering - the sacrifice of one person's suffering endured for the sake of another person's good. It's like a parent making sacrifices for their child to go to school, or giving up your seat to an elderly man on the bus, but with spiritual goods and services.
To joyfully and freely offer your own pain and suffering for another person's good is a heroic and difficult thing to do. Until I am fully able to do so and leave Woe Is Me behind, I offer my bellyaching - the whimpering and snivelling I do - and trust that God can use even that to help you when you stumble on the rocky path.
The challenges of writing this post are offered for Anita and Colleen.