Within a rock climbing route, there is often one spot defined as the crux. The moment of truth. The technical portion that once one is able to move beyond it, they can be certain no part of the route will be as challenging as what they just passed. The crux is the critical point of the feature that demands the most of the climber. As I reflect on the idea of a crux, I am better able to see my current battle: the feature of self-pity.
Self-pity can be easily dismissed by most as a struggle they don’t have, yet I am sure that there are many thoughts we daily entertain which would fall under this category. I have found self-pity to be perpetually knocking on the door of my mind in small, seemingly insignificant moments. When left unchecked or corrected with Truth, self-pity manifests itself in more critical junctures that affects my perspective on the people and circumstances around me. The tendril of self-pity sinks deeper into the mind when left to its own devices.
Self-pity is a crux with two spelling variations: “Me” and “I”.
A knock so faint, I barely hear it – the irritation of always finding the garbage overflowing to the floor….so I re-bag the items and clean the mess. The knock grows louder as situations are brought to my attention of people acting purely out of self interest and harming the group for the sake of themselves. The knocking becomes more persistent as I dwell on the frustration of seeing people as immature or self seeking rather than self-sacrificing. And there it is: the doorway is opened and with a fateful swoop “ME” enters the door and sits promptly in the center of the living room in my mind. Me. The self-seeking idea that insists, “’I’ deserve more than this, that ‘I’ shouldn’t always be the one mediating, ‘I’ shouldn’t have to parent and lead, ‘I’ should get a break…. I, I, I.” Self-pity is a crux with two spelling variations: “Me” and “I”. Both flow fluently through our minds and both find lodging in our hearts. Both are equally poisonous and spoil how Christ has called us to live.
I find myself, on a route that promises to be incredibly fulfilling, life-giving and maturing, yet hanging on just below the crux.
So, here I find myself, on a route that promises to be incredibly fulfilling, life-giving and maturing, yet hanging on just below the crux. As I eye this critical point, my practiced understanding of route finding immediately identifies the way to move beyond it: I need Jesus. I need Jesus desperately and with all that I am. I need the richness of God’s mercy to bring this tendril of self-pity to death and bring new life in it’s place. Self-pity has no place in my heart and mind, and while there are cracks and areas of weakness that it could potentially settle into and take root, I refuse to spread the welcome mat for the destructive vices that would move in with self-pity.
By the rich mercy of God, I have been united with Christ in his death and resurrection, through which I can anticipate and take joy in the life that WILL come forth from this open hearted cry to the Lord. This crux of self-pity will not be a technical feature by which I allow myself to be defeated and thrown down. No matter the number of times I lose my focus, or my grip weakens and fingers begin to slide off of my place of progress, or legs begin to shake in fatigue from fighting upward, I will look at this crux of “Me” and ask Jesus to raise my eyes higher still. I believe that through His rich mercy, I will walk in new life and later on find myself looking down at the crux in joy of having overcome it. Then with a deep breath I will continue to climb upward.
Some of my favorite routes are such because of the crux…
There are some climbing routes where the crux is at the beginning, some the middle and others the end. Some of my favorite routes are such because of the crux, and I choose to climb them over and over until the crux is no longer the sticking point that still causes my adrenaline to race or my mind to fight for a way through it. With practice, your body knows the demands of the crux and it no longer causes you to exert tremendous amounts of energy to move through it. The practice of moving through the crux includes dismissing affirmations of others who see your efforts and chide others for their neglect. Moving through it means that we consistently choose to act through the foundation of God’s love and servitude – who did not come to this world to be served but to serve and give His life as ransom for many (Mtt 20:28). Will we choose to be conformed to the image of Christ even in painful acts of servitude, which require carrying our cross and dying to self, just as He bore all of our iniquities on the cross that we might have life (1 Peter 2:24). We have a choice to climb and persevere through the route, regardless of how many times we fall back down while attempting to move through it. We have a choice to be a victim or valiant.
I choose to be hopeful that while the crux of self-pity will still exist within my life, it doesn’t have to be a taxing and extremely challenging endeavor to climb through. I will be able to look at it with victory already shining in my eyes because Jesus has delivered me and He will yet again. The faithfulness of Jesus far outweighs the anticipation of the crux that presents itself.