Bitterness, Light and Facing 2017
So, here I am, on the last day of 2016, remembering all that happened this year. I can see the pile of papers in my desk drawer that are angry, defensive rants that I have every right to publish. I feel the battle in my heart, “what am I going to do with this bitterness growing inside me?” I’d love to let it go, but it isn’t that easy.
Fortunately, I’ve been here many, many, many…many times before. I know how to quit being bitter about things. It just takes me a while to want to quit being bitter. Letting go feels like giving up. I’m bitter because of perceived injustices and when I let go, it feels like they will never be addressed. Which means, it’s really a trust issue.
As much as I say that I believe in a huge God that created the entire universe and yet, for some inexplicable reason, cares about me. I struggle to see it in my day to day life. I kind of want God to be just mine and just care about me. I want him to zap everyone that hurts me or my family. Or basically anyone that I think is a jerk.
For some reason, in his benevolent grace to all people, he doesn’t zap everyone that I think he should zap. Which leaves me having to deal with their crap and getting frustrated.
I don’t easily trust God. Which, on a little side note, is why I think it is so funny when people use the term “blind faith”. I think it would be nice sometimes if I could turn my mind off and just “trust”. But I wrestle with EVERYTHING. I spend months considering if I really believe stuff and I question everything.
Back to bitterness: My first battle is TRUST. I have to focus on trusting that God is at work in the world. It is his job to change people’s hearts and not mine. He cares more about injustice than I do and he really is at work.
My second battle is replacing the bitterness with something better. Several years ago, Brian and I went through a really rough patch in our marriage. He did some very hurtful things to me and eventually apologized. I knew he was sincere in his apology and trying to change, but by that time, I was bitter. I was going through the motions of forgiving him and going on with our lives but my heart was far from him. One day, out of frustration, I Gooogled something like, “what to do when you don’t like your husband…” and found an article about getting rid of bitterness by focusing on the positive. I started keeping a journal of all the great things that Brian did for me and my sons.
When I looked at my journal, I felt like a horrible person for letting one rough patch cloud my vision of my husband so much.
That is what bitterness does. It distorts reality. It becomes our focus and keeps us from seeing the beauty and goodness all around us.
In Matthew 5:14, Jesus calls his followers “the light of the world” and he goes on to say “No one takes a light and puts it under a basket”.
Well, duh! Who would do that? Us! ME!!! when we let bitterness take over.
In verse 16, Jesus explains how we our light shine: “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good deeds and moral excellence, and [recognize and honor and] glorify your Father who is in heaven”. (AMP)
When I’m bitter, I focus on all of the bad things in the world and there is an endless supply to keep me going. This focus comes out in despair, anxiety, anger, and a whole lot of ranting…
So, as I sit and reflect on 2016, I refuse to focus on the bitterness. My hurt over things that are happening to my family and injustices in our country are very real. I will continue to feel that hurt. I will feel the sting of every insult directed towards me and my loved ones. But I will not be bitter. I will find the good and I will encourage it. I will rise above the negativity and seek to live a life where my good deeds and the way that I live cause people to want to know the God I know.
In 2017: I will not focus on cursing the darkness. I will be light!