Pity The Fool (Who Pities Herself)

pity the foolThanks for your kindness, wisdom and patience with me this week. It’s hard for you folks to be on the receiving end of a tearful rant, but your perspectives and prayers have been a massive help. And I’m thankful for challenges as well as reassurance.   From Kinga:

I know it’s hard. But we need to accept that not everything will happen as we wish.

I always wanted at least 3 kids. No husband even. No close family almost at all, as I buried them. I can say you are still lucky, Emma. You have got a loving husband, parents, siblings.

But I know well that little voice which shouts in your ears. I don’t understand my life and I stopped trying to understand. I can’t play this guilty game anymore and I don’t want to analyse myself every minute. Life doesn’t seem fair, but we have to accept things and try to see the beauty around us.

Only God knows what is in front of us. But He can turn for good our hardest moments.

Thanks Kinga. My temptation is to throw myself into the pit: and there’s so much sin in that. I’m a Christian and I don’t belong there. Self-analysis has an expiry date – but I don’t stop to read the labels. The Lord does turn our hardest moments for good. I’ve seen it over and over again – even this week.  I have so much to be thankful for; and I do lose sight of it. I thank God for family, friends and husband.  For material and emotional prosperity. For medicine that mends and second, third and fifteenth chances.  For your testimony and wisdom. And most of all, for a Lord who is constant and, as you say, has made life beautiful.

And from Timo:

Hi , Everytime I read your postings, I am quite frankly amazed at the ruthlessly exposed emotions as a result of all that ‘sucks’ in life! That is the postive, you ‘do’ the emotional stuff so well. However, negatively, I wonder if you do this stuff too well, for I am horrified. Let me try to explain and I thread as cautiously as possible. How much these emotions have to do with underlying emotional issues of a pre-existing or historical complaint – anorexia, I am not sure. But emotions of the nature described in my opinion are perhaps more dangerous than might appear. In short one can soon go all negative in which case life really does suck and the further one goes into this abyss, the harder it is to get out of the hole. But I have a residual interest and that is why I do not wholly avoid your emotional frankness, namely, that although I have not been anorexic, I sometimes fall into, what I call, an emotional enorexia . That is to say one can end up complaining about all the miseries in life which befall us. Thinking about this has made me realise that problems and difficulites – I cannot think of the useful word which twins with problem – beset us everyday unfortunately. Maybe we have to love problems, and hopefully with the love of the lord in us, we have chyming away the thought of his Mathew 6 and the bit about the lillies in the field etc. The next time i complain or become overcome with emotions maybe I shall recoin it and say I am doing an Emma, but, and this is the difficult bit to say, maybe I have been fortunate in that I have never felt so much pain so deeply as to perform like yourself? Or, maybe I have felt the pain of life, in my own particular circumtances of course, but been blessed by open ears/and or/ fantastic voices of opposition to my oppression? Cheers tim …, from Belfast


Hi Tim.  When I first read this, my temptation was to say ‘dammit man; have ye no heard of gift wrap? It’s my blog and I’LL GO CRAZY ON IT IF I WANT TO’.


I hear that some women have an inner goddess.  I have a three year-old, which is how I’ve been feeling, (and maybe acting too). I’m grateful to you for speaking straight – and for sharing a bit from your experience. Ideally we would go for a pint and I would wrestle you into submission; but with the Irish sea and all, I’ll write instead.

I’ve got a cartoon on my fridge of Henry Thoreau sitting at a table with a few of his mates.  In the first box he says to them: ‘the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation’. His friends look stunned.  Then they speak. ‘No we don’t’ says one. ‘Life’s great’ says another: ‘I’m happy’. ‘You need to cheer up Henry: come out and have some fun’. The strip ends with  a crestfallen Thoreau, sitting alone and looking at the floor. ‘Not tonight thanks’.

I’m not comparing my output to Thoreau (Don’t say it Tim!  I know – and I’ve been burned by you before :-)) But I’m blessed with his sunny disposition. I am over-intense.  Double gin, triple espresso, everything terrible or brilliant.  It’s certainly part of an anorexic mindset; but it was there before it and it’s there afterwards too. It’s not very healthy.  It can be idolatrous and profoundly selfish. I’m not special and far from suffering more than other people, I’m profoundly blessed. My self-pity is ugly and doesn’t exempt me from life; even though I sometimes feel it should! I have a tendency to jump into the pit with both feet and as you say, this is very dangerous. But I also have a desire to pretend and to perform.  To say ‘I’m fine’ and to settle into a relationship with others and the Lord, which stops at the surface.  To channel those feelings by eating too much or not eating or shopping or my appearance or my achievements.   When I write and when I pray, I’m trying to bring what is ugly into the light.  To shine the gospel on it and expose the heart: in yesterday’s post, a ‘need to be needed’.  In other posts, a desire for control, a sense of entitlement, a relentless self-pitying, faithless, broken heart.

What I feel and what I write is often ugly: but sadly, it’s the shape of my heart. It’s not okay to bed down under self-pity.  It’s wrong – and can’t be justified with any amount of experience. I’m sorry to God for doubting His goodness. I’m sorry to you and to others for wallowing in misery.

But I’m not sorry for articulating the struggle to feel what I know to be true. I’m not sorry for asking for prayer when I’m sore. I’m sorry for sinning in my weakness, but I’m not sorry to be weak.  And I’m thankful for a Saviour who treats me with the kindness and patience I don’t deserve. I’m thankful for your words and for the fellowship that unites us, even though we’re geographically and personally in different places.

 A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out, till he has brought justice through to victory.

Matt 12:20


11 thoughts on “Pity The Fool (Who Pities Herself)

  1. Emma,

    I am reading Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly. She quotes psychologist James Pennebaker who says that the act of not discussing a traumatic event or confiding it to another person could be more damaging than the actual event. Conversely, when people shared their stories and experiences, their physical health improved.

    In his book “Writing to Heal,” Pennebaker says, “The act of writing about traumatic experience for as little as 15 or 20 minutes a day for three or four days can produce measurable changes in physical and mental health. Emotional writing can also affect people’s sleep habits, work efficiency and how they connect with others.”

    Write iit out, Emma. Write what’s eating you. Blogging is a therapeutic act, and also a profoundly transformative one. I have changed more in my 3 years of blogging than in the previous 20 years as a Christ. Write yourself into the light and healing and wholeness. It’s healthier than stuffing it in or down.

    I recently reviewed this book by a Christian friend, Sheridan Voysey, on the experience of infertility–the trauma, the wriggling to acceptance, the slow healing

    Much love,

  2. Emma, please don’t change your honest recounting of real life. I’m sure it helps so many others in your situation who aren’t as articulate. It helps me too. A lot. I like to know there is someone out there with your courage and openness and faith. Sometimes I can only “like” what you write. I feel too full of emotion, mostly thankfulness for you. I’m pretty old and my husband and I have been through very tough times too. I’ve realised that even in the midst of deep shame, disappointment and despair God can fill us with an unexpected sense of peace and joy. That’s what I pray for you often: that you will experience that little moment that will take you by surprise and help equip you for the next tough bit. xxx

  3. Hi Emma
    You are a breath of fresh air and it’s always a great blessing to read your warts-and-all postings – hard to put into words how helpful/challenging/painful but ultimately Saviour-focussed your blog is.
    *** On a deeply trivial note I was excited to see cartoon from my favourite cartoonist savagechickens!! ***
    As we pray on, know (as I know you do!!) that God is working graciously and in ways we may never fully grasp, as you reflect and write and share with The World Out There.
    We love you, sending big hugs.

  4. It is a gift to be able to articulate well the depth of human struggles. I love the way you wrestle the ugliest of ugly on your blog. It’s the reason why I keep coming back here, even though we have never met and are not real likely to before heaven.

    I am a fellow idolater and though our issues are a bit different, the humanity is the same (weak). When we are attacked by the accuser of the brethren we need each other to point the way back. Back to the source of everything good.

    He is the blessed hope, which under lies all our hopes for this life. Will we ever get what we want here? Health, strength, beauty, marriage, children, I don’t know. It doesn’t even matter. This sharing struggles of wanting and naming and crying together is what makes us human and a community. I am honored to be allowed in.

  5. Emma,

    By reaching into your own pain you reach into everyone’s. We all (if we are honest) have times of doubt, anguish, and misery. Some of us get hung up in the pit. I’m not anorexic, have never been anorexic, but I have destroyed things and people very dear to me. I have spent my share of time in the pit of despair, believing the lies of the Accuser. It can all be very isolating.
    I have appreciated your willingness to write about the pain. I come away feeling that I am not the only human being who struggles in this way. But what is more important is that you write about the pain and then point back to truth.
    Your last post was written from, not about, your place of despair. We all need friends to point us back to the truth.

  6. Emma, your previous post to this one really spoke to me, and I think speaks for all us women, whether we’re single, married, have children, or don’t. The accuser plays on our deepest fear as great, great….granddaughters of Eve, that we are unfruitful or barren (useless). So many times, even though I have two grown children, I’ve wondered “What am I good for? Have I given ‘birth to wind’ after all?” With no job description or even a title like “pastor’s wife” (both unfortunate value indicators here in the States and in its Christian culture), I’m constantly tempted either to prove my “usefulness” in ways that superficially cover my fear, or to succumb like you’ve said in this post, to self pity and retreat, including comparing myself to both Joni and Elizabeth Elliot. You nailed me on that one! I also tend to either double down or give up, an all or nothing attitude.

    I love meeting the grace of God through your blog and the community of commenters, through whom the Spirit prompts me to pray for you and them, and who often speak to my own struggles, like Myrtle, who said “More importantly even, Joni and Elizabeth Elliot aren’t like you! There’s only one of you, uniquely gifted and serving God in a unique way.” Wow! Thanks!

    I am thankful for both yesterday and today’s posts. It reminds me that the intensity of the battle exists for others, both in the accuser’s attacks and in our own fleshly self-protective responses. What particularly encourages me to comment, in addition to all the good things said here, is a glimpse of the truth (NOT a metaphor!) but the truth–that you, dear Emma, and all of us redeemed women, for all our fears of barrenness, ARE pregnant with and carry in our bodies the very Life of Christ through the Spirit! Daily, we are being enlarged with this fruit bearing good news, no matter the visible evidence or how we feel. The enemy of our souls can’t touch that.

  7. I read back yesterdays post and then this one. My cousin hasnt had an ed or any health issues but has not been able to conceive as her womb is considered ‘inhospitable’. Its devastated her amd rocked my faith. She was angry at God. Now I’m more like you, I have only a 15% chance of having a child successfully to full term because of the anorexia. The all or nothing crap then hits hard as…but from my own childhood ive realized the depth of love it requirez to love a child unconditionally and those that foster or adopt or even just help out friends with a few overnight breaks… you are a mom already Emma. You help and inspire a younger generation and you can widem the pegs of your tent through considering adoption… if I had been rescued when so little, I know I coupdve had such an incredibly different childhood. What if you had been there those 20+ yrs ago… I needed a mom but never got one… just wanted to ahare my thoughts, disregard or delete if wrong in any way <3

  8. I agree with all the above comments. We need Emma, to be Emma. The real Emma. Because you give us permission to be us, the real us. Your blog helps the poor, the disillusioned, the hurting, those in despair, the depressed, the isolated, the forgotten, the anorexic – physically & spiritually, the lost, the self-harmer, the failure, the chronically ill, the infertile, the struggling one, the rejected, the abandoned…… I could go on. But these were the very people Jesus wanted to spend His time on earth with, who He took time out to speak too. That’s what you are doing Emma, when you share your hurting heart – the real you. And then you point us back to Christ.
    People who have never been in these circumstances will never understand. Doesn’t mean your wrong, it just means that you come at life from different perspectives. As long as you keep pointing us back to Christ, which you do, then we need you & we need your honest writing. It’s part of your healing and it’s part of ours too. Love you Sister.

  9. Thank-you for reminding me of the Lord who holds the broken bits of me and all of us in His hands. I’m blown away by your lovely messages of encouragement – we’ve known ourselves (yet again) to be carried by community and we are enormously grateful. This morning in church we read Phil 1:6 and were reminded that He who began a good work in us will carry it to completion. What a wonderful promise. Even when we are faithless, He is faithful. When we are weak, He is strong. And He actually cares for us; even the tiny details of our lives. Thank God for Jesus and thank God for church.

  10. Phew! I’m so glad that I am not in the dog-house. Thanks for quoting me non-selectively. Since I know that as a non-sufferer, I cannot ever know the condition of post – anorexic illness, at least I have Jesus in common. From that start I just wanted to query the need to bring our emotional baggage to Him. My starting point for the Christian faith was the (Barthian) God of searing Objectivity, in which we turn away from ourselves to look upon him as bearing intimately our humanity and carrying it for us? I know that I am completely full of emotional knots and when I recognise that fact I allow the whole lot to be buried! Pronto, if possible. Sometimes before I can let go I have to examine the contents of my mind/heart as to the preoccupation or issue(s) I am having. Then in the light of Jesus ie. encounter with him, I recognise the nonsense for what it is and dispense with it, forthwith. The sad thing is sometimes I don’t want to let go . I like to travel with the baggage, baggage most familiar as it is this psycho-baggage which I confuse with being me, but it is not me or more properly, it is not me-in-Christ-me! I think of your issues quite a lot, but am perplexed , given your (as a couple) theological ‘heritage’ , your pedigree, and the thinking through things theologically. I can’t quite understand why most of it is not jettisoned to the bottom of the proverbial lake! (The ‘it’ being the negativities of the human heart) I thought that you could easily allow for your undoing of foible, nonsense, call it what you like , after exposure to the searing brilliance of our Lord? In short, we don’t need to invent suffering again, when he has been through plenty (all?) of it, and that should be quite sufficient. I am told I over analyse (equals wallow in description etc), and yes, I do. However I like to think that my private spewings forth on paper, for example, become redundant, and they do. One moves on with life, and in that sense one goes with the flow. You obviously know the joy of the ‘light at the end of the tunnel’, but it surprises me how mixed up lot we Christians really are. And it is not just pyschologically, it is with the awful philosophical or cultural baggage as well. But that is another story to add layer of complexity to yours. Just to rake out my mind of the emotional disturbances of the day to day, I have had to clear ‘diary space’ to vent the above! Only when my mind levels off from its ususal emotional disturbances – usually sourced in other people – can I then begin to enjoy greater depths of personal communion thereby discovering something of my true self….if he can do that, then he really understands us and has already remedied a tragic situation. We are released from oursleves and to that extent i would maintain that our God has no interest in our old selves, at all. At least not in the particular/minute ways we sometimes/always, are. Regards timo

  11. Thanks Timo.

    In John 16:33 we have peace in Jesus but trouble in the world and we are to take heart because He has overcome the world. I think there’s a place for experiencing and vocalising that trouble – but Christ’s victory always has the final word. My challenge is not to make the trouble decisive (or hang on the baggage). The NT reminds us not to take our sin as seriously as His grace; thanks for this reminder and your thoughtful response.

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