Friday, February 14, 2014

The Truth About Pity Parties

I'm about 6 weeks into my adventure with learning to crave God, instead of food, and to turn to Him with the stressors that I have used to justify bad food and activity choices.  When I saw that one of the Blog Hop topics for this week was "Pity Party Central", I just skimmed right past it.  I'm really not much for that kind of "celebration" and, I thought to myself, "I'm cruising along pretty well right now. When it comes to food and exercise, that just isn't me."  My eyes were drawn to the topic of "Truth" and the question of what truth I am believing and living by.  I knew exactly what I wanted to write about. . . .but I just couldn't seem to get motivated to sit down and write.  I realize now that this may have been a bit of divine intervention, as I had a lesson to learn this week about pity parties.

This week marked the second Snowmageddon in South Carolina in about 3 weeks.  I made it to work Monday and Tuesday, but was literally stuck at home for Wednesday and Thursday.  I was pretty aggravated with the notion of using more vacation time for no good reason, but tried to really relax and enjoy the time off.  Believe me, there have been plenty of other two-day intervals that were much more miserable than these two days were!  We had plenty of food, the electricity never even flickered, and I spent my time with my favorite four people in the world.  I read books, studied, cruised on Facebook, watched the Olympics and drank extra coffee--they were truly good days.

The pity party invitations went out on Thursday evening, when the "Closings & Cancellations" for Friday began to scroll along the bottom of the TV screen during the coverage of the Olympic Games.  I already knew I would need to report to work at 10:00am on Friday--a delay of 90 minutes to give the icy roads time to melt a bit--and I would need to stay at least 90 minutes beyond our usual 1:00pm quitting time.  Initially, I had greeted this news with happiness, as I was relieved to be able to make up some of the time lost the two previous days.  First it was my daughter's college--CLOSED on Friday.  Then it was my husband's employer--CLOSED on Friday.  Finally, it was my son's college--CLOSED on Friday. 

I was the only one in the house who had to get up in the morning and be somewhere.

I tried to focus on the fact that I could still sleep in a little bit, but it wasn't working.  The pity party preparations began in earnest now.

But then it occurred to me that Friday had to be a good day--it just HAD to be.  Friday was Valentine's Day.  My favorite holiday of the whole year, a fact my husband has learned well over our three decades together.   Why do I love this "manufactured" holiday so much, you ask?  Honestly--because it is the only holiday of the year in which I am not responsible for all of the work generated.  I don't have to plan and cook the meal.  I don't have to buy all of the gifts.  I don't have to consider invitations and planning and awkward family situations.  Yes, my love for this holiday is based purely on selfishness--but, at least I am honest about it!  I went to bed with hope that my favorite holiday would wipe away the pity brewing in my heart.

It was a morning like any other morning.  I slept a bit extra and enjoyed a hot shower.  I had a nice rich cup of coffee and my favorite breakfast.  Dave woke up and joined me in the living room and said. . .

"Good Morning"

That was it.  Just before I left for work, he did wish me a Happy Valentine's Day and gave me a hug and a kiss. 

I already knew he wasn't getting me a card--he had warned me that the snowstorm had interrupted his plans and he hadn't been able to get that done.  I wasn't expecting any Godiva's Truffles to be perched by my coffee cup--I had told him "no candy this year", due to my success with cutting sugar out of my diet.

I was, however, expecting him to come out and wish me a Happy Valentine's Day.  Yep--definitely going to have that pity party.

I arrived at the office and dug into the work I had to do.  My assignment was OB Call--returning the phone calls for all of our OB patients, answering their questions, helping them with problems that had come up, and working them in, as needed, for appointments.  Some days OB Call is great.  Some days it is the worst assignment of all.  In truth, today was very easy and I had little to complain about, but in my heart there was only pity brewing.  We would have to work through lunch, but then we received the news that one of our vendors was supplying our lunch for free!  They were bringing pizza--and I can't eat pizza right now, because it is not on my healthy eating plan.  No pizza for Sandi.

At this point, the pity party was in full swing, with somber music and grey ugly colors everywhere.  There was nothing tasty at this pity party.  It wouldn't have mattered if there was--I couldn't eat it anyway.

By about noon, I was starting to give up on the possibility of getting any flowers for Valentine's Day, too.  I love cut flowers so very much and I had shared this fact with Dave many times in the past year.  (It had been a few years since he had given me any, and I've learned that subtle hinting is not effective.)   Given that candy was out of the question for this year, I was really hoping for flowers.  12:15, and still no flowers.  I called Dave at home, to see how things were going there--he was preoccupied with a repair issue at home, so we chatted briefly and then hung up.

This was turning into the Olympics version of a Pity Party.

That's about the point where the roses arrived.  18 of them.  Various shades of pink and red.  So very fragrant and lovely.  The card attached was very short and to the point.  "1111" and "1234" followed by the words "I love you".  Those numbers are a kind of private code between us--nothing fancy, just times we see on the clock and think of each other.  If he looks at his cell phone and sees it is 12:34, he will send me a text message with those numbers.  That's all I need to see to be reminded that I am on his mind during the day.

Suddenly, the pity party was over.  The depressing thoughts were thrown out and the misery was kicked to the curb.  I realized that this wasn't about Dave or Valentine's Day or OB Call or being the only one in the family who had to go to work.  It was about pizza--and Godiva Truffles and Krispy Kreme doughnuts and candy hearts.  It was about not being able to medicate my frustrations with food.  It was the first time I had come face to face with how I had used food to dull the irritations in my life and how miserable I was when I couldn't have my "medication". 

The Truth is that I am learning just how much I don't need that medication.  The Truth is that I am made for more than empty calories and empty promises to myself to "do better next time".  The Truth is summed up in a small text from Deuteronomy 2:3 that says, "You have circled this mountain long enough.  Now turn North."  God's people had been wandering in the desert for 40 years because they needed to learn how to crave God instead of the life they had led in Egypt.  They had to learn to be satisfied with His manna, His provision, and His plan for them.  And then, they had to change direction.  Turn North. 

I have circled the mountain of rotten choices long enough and I have turned in a different direction.  I needed a reminder of that today, so that I could check my compass and make sure it was pointed North.