Disappointments and hurt feelings are apart of life.
However, unaddressed pain or suffering can lead to bitterness, and bitterness can block the blessings that God has in store for your life.
Unfortunately, many people have become comfortable with bitterness, either because they don’t know they're bitter, don’t want to admit it or think bitterness is a perfect and acceptable response to all the pain they've been through. But, to wear a badge of bitterness isn't honorable, it's actually corruptible.
The root of bitterness is poisonous (Deuteronomy 29:18), corrupting and deadly.
What is bitterness?
It’s a pain that has caused intense hostility, a deep sense of grief or a bad taste. Common ways grudges form and bitterness can set in are through the wrongful death of a loved one, infidelity and church hurt, just to name a few.
You may've heard nonchalant comments like, “she’s bitter” or maybe you've been told, “you’re bitter, you need to get over it!” Well, bitterness isn't a nonchalant matter. It's a harmful emotion that works against the light and livelihood of the embittered person.
If not addressed, bitterness has the power to corrupt one’s perception of oneself, life, people and possibly God.
Bitterness is a blessing blocker.
How can a woman who's bitter about being hurt by her ex, accept the husband she's praying for? How can a mother who's bitter about a child’s defiance, love that child unconditionally?
It can be hard to see goodness, give goodness or enjoy good experiences when you're bitter. Instead of highlighting the good, the bitter heart will gladly speak about all that is wrong (with men, women, or the world). Ephesians 4:31 encourages us to, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.”
How do you “get rid" of the root of bitterness?
1. Acknowledge the truth. In the movie, Diary of a Mad Black Woman there’s a scene where the main character is called, “Bitter!” She said, “I’m not bitter, I’m mad as hell.” I love this because she acknowledged her truth. If you deny the truth of the disappointment or pain, you give the seed of bitterness an opening in your heart to grow. Pretending to be well is associated with ego and shame, but "where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty."
Be liberated by acknowledging the truth.
2. Agree to go through the grief with God (and a coach or counselor), not with the world. Yes, it’s okay to tell a parent or someone you trust that you were hurt, but typically the person you go to is limited in helping you resolve the matter. Go to those who can help you heal and move forward. God’s able and ready to act on your behalf, and a qualified coach or counselor will commit to walk alongside you in confidentiality. Don't prolong your grief by retelling your "pain" story to just anyone. Instead, invest in getting over it.
3. Ask God to help you forgive, the offender and yourself. Now that you’re in a place of honesty with the pain and with God, it’s time to make peace with your offender and yourself. The way to peace will come through forgiveness. Let God know that you would like to forgive him or her for the offense, then ask God to help you forgive yourself. The forgiveness process is different for everyone, so it could take more time than you anticipated, but stick with it until you no longer have that bad taste.
If you are burdened by bitterness, you can cast this care on God, so you can live freely and abundantly. Can you do that? Let me know your thoughts about bitterness and how I can help?
Tiffany Wilson, M.Div aka @tiffytalks
[Published via Original Website January 12, 2014. Edited, July 3, 2018]