Bitterness…its a word of weight. A word that we use to describe the feelings of hurt, pain, and the resentment we feel when we have been through unpleasant circumstances and have held on to those feelings far too long. My dear friends, this is a post on bitterness, my bitterness, and the feelings I have been dealing with in the course of scattered periods of time.
As you all are aware, I experienced a breakup earlier this year. The breakup was unpleasant, numbing, raw, startling, and very much unlooked for. I have never experienced anything so painful in my life. Any deaths, losses, and hardships I’ve been through before paled in comparison with the drama that overtook my life and that of my family’s with this breakup. It was an ugly thing. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.
Now, I have experienced a different loss. The loss of my sister. This was quite a different matter, and, as you all read in this post, was yet another trial of hardship that I had to walk through. In this trial I learned a different lesson, how to let go of a dream that I always knew I would have to let go of. But once I put the thoughts of wanting to be the first sister to marry out of my mind, something happened. As I began to slowly, painfully accept the fact that Brigid would leave first, and leave as a different person; the bitterness that accompanied me, shackling my feet and blinding my eyes, left. It left not long after I gave up the fight against God’s plan. He bent me over backwards and then made me face the mirror so that I could see just how twisted my own ‘fair designs’ really were. I gave up. No sooner had I given up, He picked me up, unlocking the shackles with His Key of Truth, and untied the black band of lies that hid the sight of glory from my eyes. Then, with halting breath, I saw what He saw, and I knew I had be so very wrong, and He so very right.
For a time I was able to walk with happiness and clarity. The sun began to come out again, and I felt as if the storm was finally gone. In fact the night before the wedding, I remember letting go of the very last shards of bitterness that pierced my heart. I went up to Brigid and told her how sorry I was that I had not been more of the sister that she needed during the last bit of time she had left at home. She opened her arms wide, and forgave me with a smile as I crumpled up, weeping in her arms. That was a very special moment I won’t ever forget. She, so willing to forgive, and I, so very broken and repentant inside. (When we are week, He is strong) Without knowing it herself, God used her gentle words, and love to help bind up the wounds and shards of bitterness left, preparing me my heart for the joy and happiness I would feel for her the very next day, her wonderful wedding day. (Pictures coming soon. Patience, grasshopper. 😉 )
Oh that my heart would only stay in the blissful sunshine of joy and peace! But no. The time I walked in sunshine didn’t last for very long. New obstacles came, and old wounds from my breakup were ripped open. I won’t go into detail here on the blog, but suffice it to say, my journey to being fully healed is still far from ended. And bitterness? Ha! That ‘wonderful’ feeling that covers itself over with lies of being a righteous anger, a truthful emotion that expresses hurt, and the only means of dealing with trials at hand, yes, it came back.
I discovered its presence not long ago while watching the movie (of all things!) “The Huntsman: Winter’s War”. (Now please, don’t let the fact that I watched this movie distract you. I don’t watch any of the scenes with nudity in them, nor was I bothered with the fact that this movie had them. That is not my point, so let’s not dwell on that, shall we?) What I was bothered with was how I could actually associate my feelings with those of the wicked sister queens in the movie. Their ugly, hateful plots to take over the land, fed by their repulsive bitterness and utter belief in the lie that love is wrong, were, for the first time, understandable in my mind. (Bear with me. Deep breath. I didn’t turn into a villain.) When I realized this in my mind I reeled back in utter shock at how bitter I felt my own heart growing, and that the thoughts and feelings of the wicked queens were not so dissimilar from my own! What was I doing to myself? How did I get there so quickly, and what needed to be done to get rid of the hateful bitterness? Suddenly, I felt all alone, and so cold. So very cold. Was it not just a few days ago that my pastor had warned me to keep from bitterness?
Dazed, I stood up from my comfy seat on the couch, and prepared for bed. But how could I fall asleep knowing that I had unfinished business at hand? I couldn’t and I didn’t. So I went to the person who has helped me through nearly all of my trials; lovingly, patiently explaining and reminding, without fail, the measures I must take to live righteously before God. I asked Dad, “Do I have to suffer long with a fake smile?” He answered in the negative, and thus began our conversation on bitterness. Our conversations are always so wonderful, and most often end in a happy, unburdened daughter, and a gladdened father. Dad dug deep into the recesses of my heart that night. He explained to me that he had watched me buy into the lie that I could be controlled by the people who wanted to play with my heart, and that I needed to stop believing it. I was my own woman, he said, and I needed to act like it, confronting my offenders with gentleness, and kindness, but making sure that my boundaries were at least heard. If they weren’t accepted, then it was up to God. I needed to stop fighting for myself, and let God work for me. Most of all, I didn’t need to cower and let people walk all over me. That would only further feed my bitterness. I am a daughter of the King, and as such, I have the liberty to do what ever I want and need, so long as it was within the bounds of Scripture. He was right. Thank the Lord, he always is.
Harmonizing with Dad’s encouragement, the study of Psalm 119: 57-60, showed me that if I am to get anywhere with any sort of healing, it needs to start with my being obedient to ALL of God’s Word. As the Psalmist teaches, I did think on my ways, and I saw that I had made them crooked once again. But as soon as I gave over my pride, hurt, and bitterness, to the Lord, immediately He blessed me and filled the left-over cavities with strength, courage, and His vision victorious! It was awesome!
Bitterness is the worst place for a person to dwell in. The more you feed those feelings of hurt, pain, and resentment, the harder it will be to undo all the lies Satan laces those feelings with. And that is why feelings are never called upon by the Lord as things to which we must listen to. He actually tells us to not trust our feelings, and instead, remain obedient to the Lord, no matter what the cost! Because, the blessing that comes from obedience far exceeds the painful cost that may come from obedience unto the Lord.
As the Lord says in His word, a heart will become hardened like a stone the longer it is left in sinful feelings and bitterness. Think of King Saul for example. To his very death he hated David, who was anointed King in Saul’s place, all because Saul disobeyed the Lord’s command. He was bitter against David, but ultimately he was bitter against the LORD. We see throughout the tragic story that Saul was given a chance to make things right, but instead of acting in righteousness, and turning away from sin, he allowed his heart to become even more hardened in bitterness. That bitterness took him to his wretched death.
Now here is something interesting: I have always felt odd when I read of Saul and David. Especially odd towards Saul. His character always made me squirm. I didn’t know why, until this year, when I’ve had to deal with bitterness myself. It was his bitterness that, as I grew up, reading this story over and over, became a means of concern for me. I didn’t know why, but I somehow I could relate to Saul’s bitterness. I know why now. God was warning me all through my life against the snares of bitterness, telling me to flee it, or else I would harbor it. And I have, and I know once again, He was right.
Dear friends, these thoughts on bitterness are just a scratch at the surface. I want you to know that I have come away from this ugly feeling once again, and this time, I hope to never return to it. By God’s grace, I never shall. If you have any stories of your own, please feel free to share how you overcame bitterness, and what Bible passages, or books of strengthening you read to guard yourself from the clutches of this wicked feeling.
Thank you for reading this post. I sincerely hope and pray it was of encouragement to you in your walk with the Lord.
How did you deal with bitterness?
What books could you recommend?
In His love and steadfastness,
Jessica, the Eldest Sister
P.S- we do not have our in-house copy editor/spell checker at present (i.e- Brigid 🙂 ), so please pardon the typos & grammatical errors. Thank you!