Coffee with God – Digging Up the Root of Bitterness

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Praying God’s Word Day-by-Day – Beth Moore – June 16, 2012 – entire entry

Forgiveness means deferring the cause to Christ and deciding to be free of the ongoing burden of bitterness and blame.

O Lord, You will take up my case; You will redeem my life. You have seen the wrong done to me. Uphold my cause! (Lam. 38-59).

Lord, help me to see that when You are upholding my cause, I don’t have to. Help me to lay this burden down and let You carry it instead.


O Lord, I desire not to grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom I was sealed for the day of redemption. By the power of Your Spirit, help me to get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. I desire to be kind and compassionate to others, forgiving others, just as in Christ You forgave me (Eph. 4:30-32).

Jesus Calling – Sarah Young – June 16, 2012 – entire entry

Stay on the high road with Me. Many voices clamor for your attention, trying to divert you to another path. But I have called you to walk ever so closely with Me, soaking in My Presence, living in My Peace. This is My unique design for you, planned before the world began.

I have called each of My children to a different path, distinctly designed for that one. Do not let anyone convince you that his path is the only right way. And be careful not to extol your path as superior to another’s way. What I require of you is to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with Me – wherever I lead. (Ephesians 2:10; Micah 6:8)

Jesus Calling – Sarah Young – June 13, 2012, excerpt

I am creating something new in you: a bubbling spring of Joy that spills over into others’ lives . . . . Just keep focusing on Me as we walk through this day together. Enjoy My Presence, which permeates you with Love, Joy, and Peace.

Wow.

WOW.

By now, I really shouldn’t be surprised when I open a devo or Bible Study and find the topic to be exactly what I am going through or experiencing.

And I do mean EXACTLY.

My old pal Bitterness has been coming around a lot lately trying to worm her way back into my life.  She always seems to do that when I am emotionally drained and nursing wounds inflicted by people I trusted.  She knocks on the door of my heart, trying to get me to let her in.  But I know that if I do, the first thing she’ll do once she’s inside is nail the door shut.

But the problem is that even if I don’t open the door and let her in, I can still hear her calling to me from the outside, repeatedly reminding me of all the ways I have been hurt by friends or family.

“It ‘s been how long since you’ve seen so-and-so? Over three weeks??  Wait, seriously?  You’re saying they haven’t even talked to you on the phone?  And they’ve made sure they are never in the same place as you?  Just  . . . Wow.  Shows you what you really meant to them, huh?”

And I pick up a hammer.

“I can’t believe they haven’t called to check on you yet.  Not even a text?  Or a birthday card?  Can you believe that?  After all these years?  Guess that shows they never really did care about you, huh?”

And I pick up a nail.

“Well, at least you’ve still got so-and-so.  Come again?  They’re what?  When?  And you found out how?  Wow.  Harsh.  Guess they decided to pick sides after all.  What did you expect, really?  I mean, family beats out friends any day, doesn’t really matter who’s at fault.  And, after all, you’ve never really been family.”

And I start hammering the door shut myself.

And Bitterness?  She sinks her roots in deeply and keeps reminding me of my hurts in the hopes that my heart will become calloused and scarred because of all the nails I have hammered into it.   And her reminders start to produce fruit.  Rotten, nasty, evil fruit.

Then, I pick up a devotional or my Bible, and God blows me away.  He speaks His truth to me, reminds me that the only scars that matter are the ones on His calloused hands.  And the sound of the hammer – MY hammer – driving the nails into them drowns out the cries of Bitterness.

Yes, I still hurt because of the actions of others.

Yes, people you trust betray you and hurt you deeply.

Yes, friends and family can choose to turn their backs on you because it’s easier to do that than to confront sin in their midst.

But I don’t have to let their actions define me.  And neither do you.

Every time Bitterness starts yelling at me, I can let Jesus shut her up for me by choosing forgiveness instead.  Not because they deserve it, but because God demands it, and I need the freedom it brings.

I know that forgiveness is something required by God, but I always kind of thought in the back of my mind that it only had three end results.  It was either (1) going to restore a relationship to a good place, (2) let the offender off too easily with the result being that they were never really sorry for the pain they caused you, or (3) leave you in a place of pain anyway if they respond with indifference to or denial of the fact they they hurt you.

None of those thoughts are accurate.  The end result of forgiveness isn’t to restore your relationship with the other person, though that can be a result.

The end result of forgiveness is to restore you to a right relationship with God.  If you are focusing on the other person, then you are still allowing them to control your emotions based on their responses.

Forgiveness means giving the entire situation to God, and then focusing on Him, not them.  In return, He will give you freedom to move on, healing, a cure for resentment and anger, and the situation will no longer have power over you.

I’m going through a recovery class right now that has taught me that forgiveness is not a feeling.

It is not minimizing the offense.

It is not condoning the other person’s behavior.

It does not mean you have to trust the other person again, especially if they have repeatedly committed the same offense against you with no repentance or remorse.

It is not ignoring the hurtful behavior, enabling it to continue, or letting them off the hook for the negative consequences of their choices.

It most certainly is not forgetting, because that is impossible for us to do.

Nor – and this was incredibly freeing for me to learn – is it something the other party has to accept or even be involved in.

You don’t have to actually approach the other person and tell them that you forgive them.  In fact, if you do that, you will probably be expecting an apology in return.  Just a note, but if someone knows they have hurt you, but hasn’t already bothered to apologize to you directly, then they either don’t think they’ve done anything to warrant apologizing to you for, or they don’t care that they’ve done something to hurt you.  In that case, it probably isn’t a good idea to go up to them and say, “I forgive you for hurting me.”  That will lead to them being defensive and shifting blame to you, and you being bitter because they refuse to acknowledge that they hurt you and apologize after you’ve forgiven them.  Which will lead to you needing to forgive them again . . .  The cycle will never stop.  I know.

Forgiveness is a life-changing process, and the only participants that matter are you and God.

The first step in forgiving others is to ask God to forgive you.  ME.

Why?

BECAUSE WE NEED IT.

If you aren’t a Christian, then the first thing you have ask forgiveness for is your sin and accept that Jesus is the only One who can forgive you.  If you are a believer, then you have to ask forgiveness for the bitterness and other sinful acts you have been hanging on to and allowing to fester in your soul.

The second step is to transfer the hurts and offenses you’ve been carrying to God.  Just chuck them as hard as you can at Him.

AND DON’T TRY TO PICK THEM BACK UP.

When you feel the desire to have a little visit with Bitterness, pick up God’s love letter to you and let Him remind you of who He says you are.  That will keep her away.

The third step is to turn the other person over to God.  Focus on your relationship with God, and let Him deal with the other person.

PURSUE GOD, NOT THE OTHER PERSON.

Sometimes this will mean limiting interactions.  Other times it will mean a complete severing of contact, sometimes for a period of time, sometimes for good if the relationship was abusive in any way, or the other party never repents.  Either way, distance is needed in order for you to heal.  The amount of distance required will depend on the level of hurt you are experiencing, and whether or not your ability to focus on God is adversely affected by contact with them.  And believe me, even though YOU are the one who has experienced the offense, when you withdraw contact with the offender, they will then act offended.

I’ve had to sever contact with several people recently because any reminder of them caused Bitterness to come running, screaming her angry little head off.  It’s not easy, and it’s not fun, and you will feel like you are not acting Christlike when you do it.  And they will make sure you know that they don’t think you are acting Christlike.  Or mature.  So you have to be sure – I mean REALLY, REALLY, REALLY SURE – that your motivation is TRULY because you don’t like what you are becoming, and not because you are trying to punish them.  Only sever contact after praying diligently and seeking godly counsel.  I prayed for weeks – months actually – until finally God had given me enough signs showing me that I couldn’t move on if I didn’t MOVE ON.  He will give you peace with the decision.  That peace will help you prepare for the backlash.  Because it will come.

But it’s not about THEM.  It’s about you doing whatever it takes to release your pain to God so you can find freedom and release.  Only then will you be able to move forward to follow Him with your whole heart in His will for you.

That’s it.  That’s the three steps to forgiveness.  Cooperation of the other party is not required.  Your relationship with the other person may never be restored.  Then again, it might.  But forgiveness will definitely lead to your reconciliation with God, and may eventually lead to at least reconciliation with the other person.

I want Him to create something new in me.  And I know that the process of reshaping and reforming my old thought patterns and habits will be painful, long, and hard.

But it will be worth it.  

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11 thoughts on “Coffee with God – Digging Up the Root of Bitterness

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    • You’re welcome! I’m glad you found it, because I’ve had a rough time this past week with it again, too, and really needed to re-read it myself. 🙂 Hope you have a great Thanksgiving!

  6. I cannot even tell you what an incredible find this was for me this morning. I came to realize, just yesterday, that while I thought I had forgiven someone that I really hadn’t. I’ve spent years clinging to bitterness and any little thing that was a reminder of what happened would just set me back to the event like it was yesterday. I’ve had this deep need for this friend to take ownership and partner with me in healing this wound….I’ve been trapped in a horrible, dark cave. I thought I had to restore this friendship to please God, but I don’t. I am not responsible for any heart but my own. What an incredible gift you’ve given me! THANK YOU!!!!!!!!

    • So glad this post helped you! It was very, very freeing for me when I learned what forgiveness wasn’t. And there are times when pain and anger will rear it’s head again, and I have to release it back to God again and again and again. But that is part of the process. And those times are getting fewer and far between. And what I have discovered since limiting or severing contact with those that continually hurt me is that I am SO MUCH HAPPIER. I had set them up as negative idols in my life because my hurt had consumed my thoughts. Now, though, my attitude and outlook are completely different. I have grown so much as a Christian since writing that post because I am no longer focused on them all the time. I am developing relationships with people who are transparent and supportive instead of secretive, not supportive, and toxic. Healing is an ongoing process, though, so don’t get discouraged if the bitterness pops back up once in a while, because it will. Just remind yourself that you are not defined by those who hurt you, and those times will become fewer and far between Thank you so much for commenting!

      • Thank you, so very much, for speaking such a bold truth. I have read this post daily since I was led to it and will probably be reading it daily for a long time. 🙂

  7. Pingback: Reblog» Choosing Your Friends Wisely | Pilgrim Wanderings

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