From Pity to Praise

By Joleta Keane 

I want to share a little bit about my background. I was adopted as a baby by a good, religious couple who provided me with a stable home. However, despite their love, I grew up feeling rejected and not good enough. These deep feelings of inadequacy led me to rebel against my parents and my religious upbringing. As a teenager and young adult, I turned to drugs and alcohol to fill the void in my soul. 

The day my husband and I got baptised in 2004.

In 2004, I gave my life to the Lord and made the decision to stop using drugs, smoking, and drinking heavily.

Initially, things went well, but as life’s challenges became more difficult, I found myself turning to alcohol instead of relying on God. By 2015, my drinking had spiralled out of control. I tried numerous times to quit or drink in moderation, but I failed each time. The birth of our third child in 2018 only added to the stress and increased my drinking.

Finally, in 2022, I made the decision to give up alcohol for good and have been sober for over 18 months now. However, even after this significant milestone, I still felt a deep sadness, anger, and rage within me that I couldn’t understand.
Ladies from my home group in Bonnievale, 2023

After joining the congregation in Bonnievale, I began meeting regularly with a wonderful woman of faith who helped me address the wounds of rejection I carried.

We worked on forgiveness and other healing processes, but I still felt weighed down by sadness, anger, and heaviness.

One of our current challenges as a family is that my husband works abroad, spending two months away and only one month at home. Raising three kids on my own during those two months is incredibly difficult, leading to fights, arguments, and disunity. This situation contributed to my frustration, depression, and rage. I desperately longed for the Holy Spirit to work in me and to hear God’s voice, but I felt lost and wondered why I was so stuck.

My husband’s recent trip home was for the month of July and his flight back to Saudi Arabia was scheduled for Friday 28 July 2023. And on Saturday (29th) we had a big sports day scheduled at our kids’ school in Bonnievale.  I was very bummed when I saw that there is also a big City-Wide Gathering in Cape Town that same Saturday and would not be able to attend because I had to travel back to Bonnievale after dropping my husband at the airport that Friday.

I forgot that God is in control!

Heavy rains were predicted for Saturday, so the kids and I packed overnight bags just in case the sports day was cancelled and we could sleep over at my parents who stay in Paarl where I grew up.

God made a way – He brought the heavy rains and the sports day was cancelled! I was so excited. I organised a ride to the Gathering with someone in the Paarl congregation, as I didn’t want to drive alone in the dark.

During the Gathering, someone mentioned that a lady from the Paarl congregation had been delivered from her pain after hearing the message on self-pity by Ryan Kingsley the previous night. This caught my attention because the term “self-pity” had crossed my mind before, but I had been too distracted to give it much thought. After the Gathering, on the way back to Paarl, the husband of the couple I drove with shared how the message of opening our homes convicted him – even giving me a lift (a stranger) was out of his comfort zone.

They also invited the kids and I to the service on Sunday morning. They welcomed us with open arms. We felt so welcome and loved, not just by Jean and Chin, but by everyone. We felt at home, like family.

Before worship, the husband of the couple I drove with, went to the front to pray and he shared how his heart was changed at the Gathering.

Then a lady went to the front and started sharing about her deliverance from her pain after repenting from self-pity, and I thought - God is definitely trying to get my attention.

Here she is, sitting right in front of me.  So, after the service I spoke with her, sharing my situation and background and how I realised that I had been feeling so sorry for myself for a long time.

I confessed, repented, and prayed with her, and I also apologised to my kids for my behaviour.

Going into the week I felt a sense of freedom, the heaviness in my heart was lifted, and the rage was no longer there.

The same week I listened to Ryan Kingsley’s message on self-pity.  Everything made so much sense. I never realised that the root sin of all the “fruits” like unforgiveness, resentment, bitterness, rage, criticism, disunity, jealousy, etc. that I’ve been working on came from self-pity.  Now I am able to recognise it straight away and fight it. I see it in my children and I am better equipped to help them to see it and make heart changes instead of just behavioural changes.

Living with self-pity for so many years prevented me from fully experiencing the Holy Spirit and the gifts God has for me. Now, I worship God for who He is, not just for what I want from Him.

I am able to live according to Romans 12:2, renewing my mind and discerning God’s will.

As a young Christian, this verse stood out for me:  John 8:31-32

So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, ‘If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’

I have longed for this freedom, freedom from the bondage of addiction and sin, and I have wanted to give up on God and life many times. I have lived through things that I should not have; I’ve made decisions that could have cost me my family because of my sin. But because of God’s kindness, patience, and faithfulness, I am still here – and can finally say that I live in the freedom that He promises.

Joleta Keane

Zandi Hulley

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