My Psalm 107
Refugee of Life
In 2012 the United Nations defined a refugee as “any person who: owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country.” In a recent report, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees talked about the impact of being a refugee. “A refugee may be able to receive assistance, but is prevented from enjoying those rights that would enable him or her to become a productive member of a society.”
We all know about refugees in the Middle East and Africa and Asia. What we may not realize is that most have been living in a refugee status for at least five years. There are literally millions of refugees in such a protracted refugee status in the world today. While most hope to be repatriated back to their country of origin, the reality is that for most such a wish is impossible. It is also a fact that most will never be accepted, fully accepted, anywhere else. The consequences of the world-wise refugee situation are both physical and psychological, personal and universal.
Refugees have a basic need for survival and with food, clothing, housing, and care in short supply, petty crime rates rise as people seek the very necessities of life. Their reason for being a refugee often leads to psychological disorders and a distrust of others which creates tensions and turmoil inside refugee camps and housing. Again, negative survival strategies may be implemented such a theft and prostitution as well as violence based upon gender, physical condition, or age. Ultimately the refugee will feel taken advantage of or simply lose interest. Refugee become despondent, refugee hosts feel pressured and donors, seeing no resolution, lose interest and withdraw their support.
We don’t have to look far, however, for another type of refugee. The person who feels separated from society, who dwells on the bad things that have happened to them or constantly blames others for their own mistakes, is really a refugee from life. To quote George Bernard Shaw: “People always blame their circumstances for what they are. I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on in the world are the people who get up and look for the circumstance they want and if they can’t find them, make them.”
Often the reason for the isolation is that one compares his/her life with another’s. Steve Furtick said it best: “The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.” In other words, everyone has a bad day; they just don’t advertise it.
Dr Russell Grieger, in his article “Refuse to Self-Pity” wrote: “Remember that you have a choice as to how you respond to your adversities. This choice will greatly affect your happiness in life. You can take the victim mentality, thinking happiness can only come when circumstances line up in your favor, feeling helpless and bitter when things do not work the way you want. Or, you can adopt the principle that your life is your responsibility and determine to do what’s necessary to bring yourself happiness despite any adverse circumstances that may befall you. These are your only two choices. So, choose purposefully and consciously make your choice. Your happiness depends on which one you choose.”
No one can make us a refugee from life unless we allow them to do so. We all have problems and some are of our own making and some are not. We should use our beliefs and faith to move forward in spite of them and sometimes….because of them. Deliverance is ours but often we use our self-pity like a non-pharmaceutical addictive drug. We roll around in it, breathe it in, and wear it forever and ever.
Self-pity serves no purpose and it leads to nothing successful. As Debbie Macomber wrote in her book, Mrs. Miracle, ““It’s all right to sit on your pity pot every now and again. Just be sure to flush when you are finished.”
English writer Sara Davies has five tips for combating self-pity, depression, and becoming a refugee from life. First, appreciate what you have. Second, she reminds us that life is not a fair game. We are all special but not a special case. Third, everything is not always as it seems. That friend from high school who may seem to lead a charmed life has the same foibles, challenges, and daily problems that the rest of us have. Fourth, Davies advises that, if you must compare, compare to yourself. Einstein explained it this way: “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” Lastly, Davis says “Accept what you can’t change and change what you can’t accept.”
Shannon Adler sums it up this way: ““You didn’t choose God. He chose you. When you stop feeling hurt by everyone and plotting your comeback, he has some very important things he wants you to accomplish with your life.”
My Psalm 107
Dear Spirit of All,
Help me remember that I am one of many.
I am unique but within a crowd of many.
We all have those moments, those days, those pains.
You offer us solace and strength.
We glorify you when we go forth in faith.
Help us to see our “issues” as steps to greater understanding.
Help us to move past these growing pains into fulfillment.
We are fed by your love and give thanks for all things.