One thing that I have found defines us as humans is our inability to get over things. To be realistic some of the events that happen to us are traumatic and need to be dealt with. We can not bury those events and expect them to go away. However before we deal the the issues themselves we must deal with the bitterness that has come about because of them. So how do you know if your bitter?
1. You hate a person or a place.
If you can’t stand even hearing the persons name, let alone being around them, it’s a good sign you’re more than a little bitter. The idea that you should forgive this person, or in some case a group of people, seems crazy. Every time you think you have gotten over it the situation replays in your mind and you become even more bitter than before. Bitterness shows up in our lack of love for those that have hurt us.
2. You are unable to celebrate their victories
If you hear about “how great they are doing” and get angry you need to admit you’re bitter. It’s one thing to dislike a person, but when that dislike turns into hate its a whole different monster. What you once would have celebrated with them has now become an opportunity to bash them. Instead of seeing what good things are happening in their lives you choose to tear it apart. Using phrases like, “it’s only because” or “if they wouldn’t have” to justify why it’s going great for them. Bitterness shows itself when our hearts are more for someone’s failure than for their success.
3. You won’t take responsibility for your part of the wrong
There is a reason you aren’t close to this person/group anymore. It’s likely there was a series of events that eventually lead up to a breaking point between you. Part of overcoming bitterness and forgiving someone is owning up to your side of the problem. Yes the other person did wrong you, however in almost ever case you did something too. Maybe it was as simple as not saying sorry soon enough or purposefully being difficult. Whatever it was you need to own up to it an apologize. Don’t expect them to apologize to you. Your apology should never be conditional. Bitterness shows itself in shifting the blame away from ones self and totally on the other party.
So how do we love those that have hurt us? How do we wish success for those that desired our failure? How do we stop shifting the blame when it doesn’t feel like we are at fault?
We can’t. In truth we aren’t built to do it. Our sinful nature urges us onward toward self-destruction. If left unchecked this bitterness has the ability to defines ones whole life.
However there is hope in Jesus!
He loved us when we were His enemies. He wants those that are against Him to know Him even when they are fighting against Him. He doesn’t shift blame He simply helps us see the truth.
It’s all about Jesus! Without Him you will be filled with bitterness, with Him you will find it difficult but will find to rely on Him through it.
Let Jesus define you life, not your bitterness.