This week was an ugly one. My attitude about a few things was really bad. Okay, downright rotten. At about 8:30pm last night my helpful other half decided to point out what exactly was wrong with me. I love it when he does that.
My husband called me from school and had only a few minutes. Guess what I spent the whole ten minutes doing? Using him as my sounding board and complaining about how hurt I still was with a few people and a couple recent incidents.
To call me out.
“You’re still upset about that?” He sounded surprised. Didn’t he understand? People I care about had hurt my feelings, pretty badly. Sure, it had been awhile. But how long does it take not to be hurt? My husband agreed the offense wasn’t kind.
The difference was he had moved on. Me? Not so much.
“Yes. I’m still upset about that. Now tell me, how can I have a relationship and act like nothing’s wrong? I can’t be fake. I don’t do well having fake conversations or fake relationships for that matter. “
“Then don’t have a fake conversation. There’s nothing wrong with just being polite, Joanne.”
“I can’t even do that.” I whined.
“You know what I think? I think you sound really bitter.” He ended our conversation with a kill shot to my heart.
He was right. So, instead of making nice with my offenders, I decided to see what God had to say about bitterness. Here’s what I discovered:
- Bitterness is the first giant step towards unforgiveness. It’s like sitting at the top of the slide. Once you let go there’s no place to head but down and fast.
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:31-32
- Bitterness is contagious. My stinky attitude will contaminate the thoughts and perceptions of others. Bitterness will produce words and actions in me that will persuade others to believe a certain way about a situation or a person. When a few of the Israelite s began grumbling in camp about their daily mannah, it wasn’t long before they all were bitter and demanded meat. (Exodus 16:1-36)
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1John 1:9
- Bitterness is a relationship killer. Nothing kills a relationship faster than bitterness. It produces an ugly attitude and ugly words that have the potential to ruin the parties involved. Like a spiritual Bubonic plague, bitterness has the power to infect relationships in close proximity of the offended one.
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29
How do you know if you’re bitter? How do you know if you haven’ t forgiven a wrong? Well, for starters, the wound won’t heal. Like an oozy, yucky cut, thoughts will creep into your head about what you’d like to say to this person, how you’d like to finally give them a piece of your mind. So much so, that it invades time and space in your day . Eventually, you’re giving more time to bitterness and it isn’t long before it steals your joy.
Bitterness is a joy stealer. Forgiveness is the peace maker. So, what did I do to combat my bitterness and unforgiveness? Well, after sharing with my husband about how angry and hurt I was, I prayed. I wish I could say I got on my knees and took some time in prayer but I was still so hurt that I just prayed right there in my kitchen. I confessed my wounded and bitter heart. I repented of wrong expectations and prayed for the others involved. You know what else I did?
I typed a letter to the offenders and bared my heart. I kept it on my laptop for a few hours while I looked up scripture about forgiveness. After reading God’s words I finally felt enough peace to delete my unholy document.
I’ve come to the conclusion that some relationships may never change. Where selfishness and pride rule there will always be disappointment. Since I know I can’t change others all I can do is change myself. I must warn you, once you heal the wound of bitterness, don’t talk about your healed hurt with others. You might as well pull that scab right off!
And, just because I finally have peace with a situation that doesn’t mean I’m jumping headfirst into a relationship again. God gave me a heart to forgive and He gave me a brain to instill healthy boundaries. There’s just some people who we must love at a distance. It’s as simple as that.
So, are you a Bitter Betty? Or, are you a Better Betsy? Ok, that was corny, but you get my point. Is there a hurt or an offense that has stolen too much of your joy and way too much of your time? Forgive that person and release yourself from the white knuckle hold bitterness has on you. I know it’s hard. God is waiting to give you a hand. After all, He sent His only son to set the example. Remember that.