You know those times when you’ve read or heard a word on a certain topic and then you keep hearing it and seeing it other places and its like God is trying to get a message into your head? Well, that has happened to me this past week. I was watching a scope on Periscope and if you aren’t familiar with Periscope, it’s an app where you can record yourself live and people who follow you can interact through chat. It’s pretty cool and I follow a few bloggers on there but there is this preacher who I also follow and his name is Norris Johnson. He was scoping on bitterness and it really hit me to the core. And then this morning when I checked my emails and I saw that Sadie Robertson had posted a video on YouTube, and guess what? It was about bitterness. Ok God, I hear you. So I’ve been writing these things down in my journal and I thought I would talk about what I have been learning and maybe it will be a help to other people like it has been to me.
So I had some bitter things happen to me last year. There were relationships lost and trust broken. Hurt and anger. I think we all have had a time in our lives where we were hurt by someone we loved. Sometimes people who love each other the most hurt each other the worst. But life has changed a lot since then and its been a big struggle to move on and deal with the pain. I knew that bitterness was a possibility and I’ve been asking God to keep me from being bitter. I couldn’t tell if I was bitter or not. I think when I’ve thought of being bitter I’ve always thought of a really angry person who is just nasty and it’s really obvious that they are bitter. But God was showing me that bitterness isn’t always that obvious.
Bitterness causes you to be sick and not know it. This is why it is so important to be surrounded with people who you are accountable to and who will take the time to help you when they see you struggling. I don’t often see the things in my heart that need changed until someone tells me about it. When I was younger I hated it when my parents would talk to me about ungodly things they had seen in my heart, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve begun to really appreciate that accountability. It still sucks to have that conversation but it really helps me. I think bitterness is so tricky because it is like a silent killer. You don’t notice that its there because you are hurting so much. You get a sense of comfort from the anger it produces. It grows so quickly from just a little seed to a full grown tree and before you know it, you are very sick.
Sometimes you don’t know you are bitter because you are good at suppressing it. Just because you aren’t having outbursts of anger doesn’t mean you aren’t bitter. Sometimes you hurt so much that you can’t feel anything. In those times of numbness it is easy to believe that your heart is not bitter, but it may not be true. Pushing feelings deep down into the recesses of my heart is something I’m good at. Say I have trash in my house, but instead of cleaning it up and getting rid of it, I just hide it away. The trash is still there, you just can’t see it. I still need to deal with it, even though it seems like everything is tidy and clean on the surface. Suppressing feelings of bitterness doesn’t make them go away or mean that they aren’t there.
You know you are bitter when the situation or the person’s name comes up and you get a sick feeling in your stomach. If hearing about the situation or person changes your mood or if you are constantly dreaming about them because the situation or person is always on your mind, those feelings are evidence that you have not moved on and there is still hurt from the wound. This really helped me a lot in knowing if I was dealing with bitterness or not. It still really hurts to hear about the people who hurt me and it can make a good day go bad when they come up because it reminds me of all the pain in my heart.
When you harbor bitterness in your heart you are telling God that He can’t handle the situation and you want to deal with it on your own. I ask myself, can I allow God to take control of this situation? Can I trust that He will take care of it? Can I let go of the hurt and allow Him to heal me? Do I believe that He can work good out of this situation? Bitterness will lead me to answer “no” to all of those questions. It is so incredibly hard to let go. I care about the people who hurt me. I still love them and its so hard to let go because I want it to be fixed. But God says that He has a perfect plan and my part is to trust Him.
Hebrew 12:15, “Looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled.”
Bitterness can cause you to fall into other sin. Bitterness is a seed that is planted from trauma or heartbreak. That seed can take root and grow into a tree and that tree can overshadow every part of your life. It can affect your finances, your health and your relationships. You can fall back into old patterns. If you only deal with the leaves that are on the tree they will continue to grow back. You have to deal with the root, that is bitterness, in order for the tree to die and for you to be free.
Bitterness will block you from intimacy with God. It puts a wall between you and Him and will keep you from connecting with Him. He will seem distant and it will be hard to hear His voice. Bitterness keeps us from seeing the goodness of God. When we are not in His Word and cultivating our relationship with Him, we can easily lose sight of His goodness and become distant. Bitterness produces a cloud of doubt, messing up our vision of the Father. We can’t see Him clearly because we looking through a fog.
You can’t overcome what is still in front of you. When Jesus was being tempted by Satan in the wilderness, He told Satan to get behind Him. He put Satan behind Him so He would have a clear vision and be able move forward. If you keep looking at the situation you will have a hard time moving past it. You have to be able to face it to move on. You have to be able to deal with it and put it behind you. God can’t take you to the next place that He has for you if you are still holding on to what is behind you.
1 John 2:9-11, “He who says he is in the light but hates his brother, is in darkness until now. He who loves his brother is in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him. But he who hates his brother is in darkness and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.”
The most powerful tool to enable you to forgive and let go is prayer and worship. When you are able to intercede for the person who hurt you, God will reveal His heart for them to you. Just because you have feelings of hatred toward them doesn’t mean God does. In fact, He loves them and has plans for their life. The only time that I can begin to see how I could forgive and let go is when I am worshiping in His presence. When I focus on Him, when I praise Him for His goodness, it makes everything else seem so small. The more I worship Him, the easier it is to let go and the closer I get to forgiving. How will I know when I have forgiven them? When it doesn’t hurt anymore. I don’t forgive easy. I can’t say “I forgive you” if I don’t mean it. When it doesn’t hurt to see or hear about that person I will know that I have forgiven them.
After hearing these things I knew that I was dealing with bitterness in my heart. I can see a long road ahead on the journey of forgiveness. I am asking God to show me how to pray, to show me how to let go of the hurt, to heal my broken heart. If you know me, I ask that you will keep me accountable. I can’t do this on my own. I have asked God that He will give me people who will help me. When I think about letting go completely, it seems like more than I can handle. When I think of moving on, it seems nearly impossible. But I know nothing is impossible with God. And I do believe that He has a plan and a purpose for the pain and that He has good things for me and I can rest in that for now.