Wallowing – for pigs or people?
Wallowing. An expressive word, the very sound of it conjuring up images of indulgently rolling around in a thick, gloopy substance. It is the favourite activity of Gladys the pig in my latest children’s book, Harry and the Muddy Pig. Despite being washed, her natural inclination is to head straight back to the mud puddle.
In a human context, the word is rarely used to describe favourable behaviour. Instead of mud, we humans like to wallow in self-pity, misery and envy, amongst other less-than-desirable traits. Even mentions of wallowing in luxury, food or relaxation have negative connotations of self-indulgence.
In short, if I wallow, it is to serve one person, and one person only. Me.
And how easy it is. To make my way to the puddle, to sink down into the mud – the self-pity, self-indulgence, self-righteousness – and thoroughly coat myself, until it is all that I can see and feel. The more I wallow, the more I feel justified in wallowing and the harder it is to stand up, pull myself from the sticky mud, and lift my eyes above the surrounding mire.
Every one of us has something that we like to use as our mud puddle. Life isn’t always fair and others often seem to have it easier. People can hurt us, both intentionally and unintentionally. Maybe we look at others and feel we don’t measure up. Or maybe we’re smug and proud of our accomplishments, home, family or appearance. The media likes to tell us we’re worth it. Whatever they advertise, the message is the same – indulgence is our right.
But should we wallow?
The first few verses of Philippians chapter two give us the cure for wallowing. Part of the passage reads like this – ‘Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus…’ The passage goes on to tell us about the Lord Jesus Christ, who was equal with God, yet who willingly humbled Himself and came to earth as a man to die on a cross for our sins.
He didn’t look only on His own interests. If He had, we would have been lost for all eternity, without hope of salvation. Instead, He came, so that we can have salvation through trusting in Him.
And those who have trusted in Him should be like Him. We should be lifting our eyes beyond ourselves, our own circumstances. Avoiding the mud puddles.
Chapter four of Philippians has further instruction – we’re to be anxious for nothing, to let our requests be made known to God and to meditate on good things. The result? Peace and contentedness.
We don’t need to live life dragged down by mud. God has given us the solution in His Word.
After all, while wallowing is fine for Gladys, we aren’t pigs!