Friday, October 10, 2014

Letting Go of Bitterness

Ephesians 4:31

Get rid of all bitterness.



Bitterness is such a touchy subject. It's not like you can feel free to point out to someone you love that they are showcasing a bitter heart. Because usually someone who has bitterness in their heart isn't very open to hearing points of view that differ with theirs! It's like they are caught in a web, yet content to stay there.

We've all dealt with bitterness in our hearts at one time or another. Some of us are blessed enough to have escaped the long-term effects a bitter heart can have on a person. Others aren't so lucky. They still waddle in their hurt, pain, and in whatever they have lost. They may want to escape, but they don't know how. It's like in a strange way, the hurt has become a friend. At least it's something they are familiar with! Breaking free from that - well, it can be uncomfortable!

I've had a bitter heart before. I may well tread near having one again - I hope not though.
Do you know what I learned from having a bitter heart? Not much. I learned that it cost me, though. It cost me joy, time, and it cost me freedom. Freedom from what it was that made me bitter in the first place. The more you try to bury something that has hurt you so deeply, the deeper it entangles your heart. I learned that once you become bitter, it takes a long time - sometimes years to break free and heal from that. But healing is possible.

God commanded us to get rid of all bitterness. That's a tough pill to swallow when your heart wants to hold on to it with every fiber of your being. Maybe you were really wronged. Maybe someone you loved was really wronged. You can't go back - you can't change what happened. Something or someone may be lost forever. It's done. But all that bitterness will do is rob you and destroy you. It will rob those close to you as well because they will feel and sense the effects of your bitter heart. You can't contain a bitter heart; it spills over into many areas of life.

I often think of the Amish. Quite a few years ago, some students were shot at an Amish school. Maybe you remember it? It was a horrible incident. But do you know what the Amish did? They forgave the gunman. And they did it fairly soon after the incident, if I remember correctly. I remember feeling astonished and amazed at the huge steps their hearts could take as they were burying their sweet sons and daughters. And I was humbled by it because I knew that they were demonstrating how God would want each of us to respond.

You see, ultimately, God is judge. It is up to Him to hold others accountable. It's up to Him to punish, discipline, and forgive. So by us letting go of our bitterness, we are not necessarily saying that what someone did was okay, or even that they will get away with it. Because they will have to be accountable to God for what happened. And that should be good enough for us... that is if we truly trust God.
Do you trust Him with your heart and your life?

No one ever said that letting go of bitterness would be easy. It's not. It's dang tough sometimes. All we want to do is hang onto it and what little pride we may feel that we have left. But we need to trust God; that He knows what He's doing with our life. And we need to allow ourselves to break free from the deep wounds that life gives us. We may never forget - and that's okay. What we go through in life is what makes us who we are. But we can embrace and hold close to our hearts what has happened to us without letting it destroy us. All bitterness ever does is destroy. It's good to remember that before you find yourself in the throes of it. Be prepared to find the courage to let it go. Only then will your heart truly have the chance to heal and be free. 

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