Bitterness goes deep. That’s kind of why they call it a “root of bitterness” when it gets into you. Sometimes you can hide it, but sometimes you just can’t.
And really, if you’re hiding it now, know that you can’t keep it up. Roots don’t stay underground. They grow into plants, they bud and flower, and they drop fruit.
No one talks about the “flower of bitterness,” do they? Wouldn’t that be nice to reframe the conversation into something more positive? But we know what Shakespeare had to say about it: a rose, by any other name, would smell as sweet. I’m certain that the same would apply to a turd. In the same way, bitterness, no matter what you call it, is a vile poison that wants to recreate you into a lesser version of yourself.
And I’ve got some bitterness.
Really, I didn’t think that I did. I thought that, for the most part, I was walking in forgiveness, or at least a sort of forgiveness. Forgiveness is a tough thing, especially when the injury is repeated. Can you forgive me for being rude, even if I continue to be rude? That’s a problem. Forgiveness isn’t a one time event, but a lifestyle. Forgiveness is a change in perspective, and it’s letting the other guy off the hook, even if he doesn’t deserve it.
Does the backwoodsmen have it right? Obviously, the guy under the porch is done offending you. All of the wrongdoing is in the past. But that unforgiveness, can remain long past the death of the offender.
Forgiveness, after all, isn’t about the other person. Too often, they couldn’t care less whether you forgive them or not. Forgiveness isn’t about them; it’s about you. It’s about moving past the pain, allowing those deep cuts to heal, and flushing the bitter infection out of your injuries, lest your soul become septic and you find yourself as good as dead. You can despise them all you want, but those ill feelings hurt you far more than they will ever hurt them.
The roots may be underground, unnoticed, and undisturbed, but once they start to rear their head, you will know that you’ve got a problem.
That’s kind of what has happened with me. I’ve found that as my own bitter roots have gone unchecked, they have grown into something sinister, winding their way around my heart and soul, squeezing the life from me, and making me far less considerate, for more intolerant, and much farther from the heart of God.
Bitterness grows inside, and when it manifests, it can bite with sundry heads. On one end, there is anger, hatred, and rage, but on the other end of the spectrum, we find more surprising appearances, things like pain, sorrow, loneliness, and depression.
Oftentimes, if the thing you are struggling with places you at variance with another person, bitterness might be at the root.
Don’t let it stay there. Grab a couple shovels. Hand one of them to Jesus, and start digging! You might find that freeing yourself is as simple (or not as simple) as letting somebody else free of their responsibility. It does not matter whether or not they are wrong. What matters more is how you let them being wrong affect you.
Offer forgiveness. Then receive it.
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