When Grace Interrupted My Pity Party

Last week, I wrote about dying to self and how this many-layered theological concept became personal to me during a stressful time of my life. Now, I explain how an unexpected epiphany brought hope and freedom to my dry heart—and just might do the same for you.

Dying to self

I continued thinking about dying to self as the months went by. We even started talking about it as a family. We called it “DTS-ing” for short, referring to unselfish acts like choosing the smaller cookie or letting someone else go first—intentional efforts to put others ahead of our own desires, even for the little things.

During that time, I was transitioning into a different season of life, physically. There was a lot of personal and family change. There were some unmet expectations. Things that I had always counted on seemed altered, and I sometimes struggled to distinguish perception from reality.

Summer came, and it was hot. I had an infection that required antibiotics, and the medication caused bona-fide insomnia. I’m sure all of that played into my mental state at the time.

I lay on my bed one day, half praying, half processing.

I know I’m supposed to die to myself so that others can live, I thought, but what about me? Do I have to die to myself so others can live even if it seems like nobody is doing that for me? Or at least not doing it in the way that I hoped to see it done that day?

I want to stress that people have died to self for me throughout my life and were continuing to do it even then. Randy, especially, was making significant sacrifices to provide for our family during those rough economic times.

Unfortunately, the changes in my body and mind were playing some serious tricks on me. In the midst of such transition, it’s sometimes easy to lose sight of what’s real. Although praying Psalm 43:3—that God would send His light and His truth so they could lead me—helped, I still struggled.

But back to my question: Do I have to die to myself so that others can live even if I think nobody is doing that for me?

I knew the answer, and I didn’t like it.

Then I had a little epiphany.

There I was, having a little pity party because I felt like no one was dying to him- or herself so that I could experience life, when the Holy Spirit whispered to my heart:

“Somebody DID die so you could have life.”

Suddenly, everything I had ever learned about the gospel coalesced into crystal-clear form.

Jesus died so that I could live. And because He died so that I could live, I can die to myself so that others can have life.

He did it all for me. Everything.

Because of His grace, I’m wholly accepted, wholly clean, wholly loved. I belong in His family, forever.

And because of that, I’m free.

Free to give, expecting nothing in return. Free to love even when I don’t feel love back. Free to release others from the burden of meeting needs only God can meet. Free to share my story even if might embarrass me a little bit. Free to invest my life and words into others without fearing rejection or needing affirmation.

Why it took more than three decades to figure this out, I don’t know.

Truth be told, I’m still trying to figure it out.

But that day, something shifted inside my heart. In ways that I find hard to describe, what Jesus did for me—for each one of us—seemed more real, more relevant to my daily life.

He did it all.

And He is enough.

Lois Flowers

P.S. Linking up this week with Kelly Balarie at Purposeful Faith, Jennifer Dukes Lee at #TellHisStory, Lyli Dunbar at #ThoughtProvokingThursday, Holley Gerth at Coffee for Your Heart, Missional Women and Grace & Truth.

32 Responses to When Grace Interrupted My Pity Party

  1. Aimee says:

    So much packed into that one statement “Somebody DID die so you could have life.” It can be so easy to get caught up in our own pity parties, hey? But that single piece of truth is enough to crash any pity party! I absolutely love your post, Lois, and I have chosen it to be my feature for this week’s Grace and Truth link-up. Please be sure to stop by my site on Friday to get your ‘I was featured’ button!

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Aw, Aimee–thank you! I’m glad the post spoke to you like this, and I hope others are encouraged by it when they see it at your site today. That was the most impactful pity party I’ve ever had, for sure! I hope you have a blessed weekend, my friend!

  2. Ceil says:

    Hi Lois! I do think that I look at myself and around me for evidence of ‘DTS’ing. (Love that!) Really, all that matters is Jesus did it first, and quite frankly, that IS enough.

    Now it’s up to me to take that into my soul and follow his lead. It was always about Jesus and me, not what other people do. Sigh…if I could only learn this better!

    • Lois Flowers says:

      “Now it’s up to me to take that into my soul and follow his lead.” Exactly that, Ceil. And I’m with you on this–it’s easy to say, but so much harder to do! 🙂

  3. June says:

    That’s the answer to the, “why should I . . . ” isn’t it, Lois. So simple, yet so profound. Great post!

  4. The huge gift of salvation, the death of Christ, His continual intercession for us — all of this goes unnoticed and unappreciated when we’re in the pits. Thanks for sharing your journey through the shadowlands — and out on the other side!

  5. Lois, it’s taken me five decades to figure this out, and I think I’m still learning it too. Thank you for your encouragement. Jesus died so I could be free to give without expecting anything in return. Because I’ve already received everything from Him. (Still, it’s easier to say it than to practice it!)

  6. Emily says:

    So encouraging! On the days that we feel like nothing is going our way and no one is in our corner, it’s humbling to think that the opposite is true. HE is always with us and paid the ultimate price to save us!

  7. Kristina says:

    I have to say whenever I see grace in someone’s title I always pick it : ) The ultimate dying to yourself is Jesus! What an awesome undeserving gift He gave us. I am learning to be completely satisfied in that in order to put others first. I love how what Jesus did can bring us together as sinful humans. Visiting from Jennifer’s linkup #29

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Kristina, I’m so glad the word “grace” in my title prompted you to stop by today! I’m learning right along with you … I’m so glad we have a patient, faithful Teacher for this lifelong class!

  8. Lois,
    I love how God answered your prayer for truth and light…and I can relate to your epiphany moment because I feel like it has taken me decades and I’m still grasping/seeing a little more the truth of the gospel…and DTS…is hard and lifelong…blessings to you 🙂

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Dolly, it seems like such a simple thing, and yet it was so profound to me in that moment! Aren’t you glad God reveals His truth to us just when we need it, in ways that He knows we can comprehend? 🙂

  9. Anita Ojeda says:

    Thank you for sharing your beatiful story. I’ve had pity parties, too. Usually about how I don’t feel successful or recognized or affirmed. Whine, whine, whine. I usually snap myself out by remembering that Jesus wasn’t (by the world’s standards) successful, recognized or affirmed either. There’s nothing like a dose of Jesus to shift our perspective!

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Oh Anita … I know just how you feel! And I so appreciate your thoughts about Jesus and His “platform”–that is a wonderful perspective to have. Thank you for your encouragement today!

  10. ~Karrilee~ says:

    Oh yes… Pity Parties! I think we have all thrown a bash or twelve for ourselves! 😉 Die to self… it’s not easy and it’s one of the first things we forget to do, right? I love how He so graciously pointed you to the most important Truth and that just sort of always settles it, doesn’t it? Great reminder! Great perspective!

  11. Linda Stoll says:

    Oh wow. Just wow, Lois.

    You’ve made the journey of dying to self come alive with the beauty of that epiphany.

    And that 1 small cookie …


    • Lois Flowers says:

      Thank you so much, Linda. I’m so grateful I can write about those foggy days now … through the lens of retrospect, it’s a bit easier to see how God was moving and aiding and imparting truth, even during the driest times. Blessings to you today, my friend!

  12. Trudy says:

    This is so encouraging, Lois. I love your epiphany! Sometimes our hearts crave affirmation from others, but how thankful are we towards what Jesus has sacrificed for us? I love this – “Because of His grace, I’m wholly accepted, wholly clean, wholly loved.” Thank you for reminding me of these truths! Blessings and hugs to you!

    • Lois Flowers says:

      I know what you mean about craving affirmation, Trudy … that’s been a struggle for me for a long time, but I am slowly learning to be content knowing that Jesus is all I need. Thank you for YOUR encouraging words … they bless me more than I can say. 🙂

  13. Lisa notes says:

    Free to die to ourselves. Yes. It’s not an easy concept to grasp—it comes and goes on even our best days. But I love that you are being so intentional about it with your family. Thanks for sharing this encouragement for us to do likewise!

    • Lois Flowers says:

      You’re absolutely right about the coming and going part, Lisa. One more reason to be thankful that God’s mercies are new every morning (and hour and minute)… 🙂

  14. Carly says:

    I love your insights here. I relate to those times when I feel like I’m doing a lot to put others first but no-one’s doing that for me. It makes such a difference to focus instead on what Jesus has done, that he gave up everything for us so that we might live. Thanks for sharing!

  15. Yes and amen! I relate to this post so well, Lois. And how familiar insomnia of that magnitude it so me… so it’s no easy thing to keep giving of yourself in those moments. But how glorious is it, that He gave His all so that we would never do any of this on our own strength and merit ever again?
    Mighty wonderful to think about… so thankful for your post today.

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Oh, Christine … I hate that you are so familiar with that type of insomnia … the compounding effect is hard to handle, isn’t it? You’re right about the glorious part, though … I’m so grateful that His strength is made perfect in our weakness. Have a blessed day, my friend!

  16. Tammy says:

    Ahh-mazing! I have been in that season as well, and we do have a pity party … “what about me!”

    Jesus is enough! Sometimes, it takes awhile to get it and remember it. It took me a long time as well, but this is a reminder to me to keep remembering that no matter what is going on or how much I have to give and give.

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