The Dreaded “Poochie Lip”
Ron Hamilton (better known as “Patch the Pirate”) had a song in one of his tapes called “the poochie lip disease.” It was loosely based on the actions of King Ahab who after being told by Naboth he couldn’t have his vineyard laid down on the bed, turned from the wall, and refused to eat (1 Kings 21:4) .
There aren’t many stronger illustrations of self-pity in Scripture….
But interestingly there’s an even stronger one just two chapters before.
In 1 Kings 19 the great prophet Elijah had just defeated the prophets of Baal in spectacular fashion. But when Jezebel responds by threatening his life, he runs into the wilderness, and asks God to kill him (it is enough Lord, take away my life for I am not better than my fathers 1 Kings 19:4).
Later when meeting with God Elijah told Him twice where this desire for death came from. He had been faithful the Lord, and instead of experiencing blessing, he experienced more persecution (1 Kings 19:10, 1 Kings 19:14). The core of Elijah’s frustration was he felt abandoned by God (all alone).
Self-pity sometimes displays itself with incredibly childish actions like Ahab, but more often it’s displayed by simply giving up like Elijah.
As a child I struggled with self-esteem issues a lot, and self-pity went hand in hand with that. I learned putting myself down or treating myself as a someone who was worthless led to others encouraging me. Over time feeling sorry for myself became a habit of life used to fill my emotional cup.
Thankfully the Lord helped me break that cycle by basing my identity upon who I am in Christ instead of what I can (or can’t) do. But the quieter form of self-pitiy has a way of creeping in.
- By focusing on my struggles (or injustice) instead of God’s goodness
- By taking one setback and believing it makes me a colossal failure
- By living in an incredibly well-defined “comfort zone” and not taking one step out of it
- By being a pessimist who never believes things will go right
- And by not giving 100% of myself since i’ll just fail anyways
With each of these characteristics (and others) it’s possible to continue doing the work of God, while having no confidence in it whatsover. Obviously the Lord won’t bless this!
For me the most dangerous part of this self-pity is I may not even notice it at first. It’s amazing how the subtle thought “you won’t succeed, so don’t try” can keep us from attempting anything for the Lord.
So how do we overcome this form of self-pity?
By understanding you aren’t alone
I can remember having a conversation with a missionary in Australia about some struggles I had been expereincing lately. The truth I was indeed having a bit of a pity party. When I was finished he leaned over and said “let me tell you what happened to me when I got here.” He proceeded to explain experiences that were ten times worse than anything I ever experienced! I immediately apologized for my self-pity.
The Lord responded to Elijahs pity by revealing there were many who were still serving Him. One individual was Elisha who promptly followed Elijah as his disciple and fellow prophet.
The poochie lip thrives on isolation. Which is why I’ve found the best thing to do when feeling sorry for myself is just be with other people (especially brothers and sisters in Christ). As we fellowship and encourage one another the Lord shows my life isn’t as bad as it seemed.
One of the most powerful lies Satan has is “your all alone.” By the grace of God we must not allow our self-pity to shut the door of isolation tight, but lock arms with fellow christians. Only then can we know that he is lying