“I pray because I can't help myself. I pray because I'm helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time- waking and sleeping. It doesn't change God- it changes me.”
― C. S. Lewis
― C. S. Lewis
I believe in the sun even when it's not shining. I believe in love even when I don't feel it. And I believe in God even when He is silent. (quote found on the wall of a concentration camp)
Saturday, April 4, 2009
The Destruction of Bitterness
My last post was on Agape' Love, but today I am compelled to write about Agape' Love's Arch Enemy, Bitterness.
This morning, I had the privilege of going to the Women's Retreat for just 1/2 of the day. I sure do wish I could have stayed longer, but there was just too much going on.
I had no idea what the topic was going to be about, but after I got there and looked at the syllabus I was really excited.
This isn't a topic we Christians like to talk about too much, but it is very, very necessary to understand it, in order to understand my previous post about Love.
I thought Cathy did a fabulous job of helping us understand what bitterness really is. I looked up a definition online and it said "it is a frozen form of latent anger".
That is a very sterile way of saying, "a bitter person is an angry person, and the thing they may be angry about, they have been angry about for a long time.
But for the Christian, it goes abit further. Bitterness cuts away at our relationship with God, it destroys our relationship with each other, and it is sin. Pure and simple.
But what exactly IS it?
It is harboring anger or resentment against another person, real or imagined, and not forgiving them. It is bringing up another person's sin and not seeing that we ourselves are sinful. It is looking at what others are doing, and being critical, but forgetting to inspect ourselves.
We become great "Fruit Inspectors", except on our own tree.
Not only are we called to forgive, we are called to love. You cannot have bitter water and sweet water in the same well.
I was thinking about this in light of how we view our children. Bitterness can be a slippery slope we fall into if we are not careful of how we view and accept our children. We are to be loving and forgiving, but how many times do we show resentment towards them for something they have done? Especailly if we are dealing with extreme behaviors.
In Christine's Post yesterday on Smiles and Trials, she described exactly what I am talking about. A parent that is sinking into the depths of despair, because of real or perceived problems with their child, many times focuses on each and every thing the child does WRONG,even down to how they laugh, look,speak or smell, forgetting to concentrate on what he or she does right and how delightful it is to hear a child laugh. They begin to dislike the very person they are called to love and those thoughts birth actions that a person will regret. Sometimes it will lead to disruption, or even worse, a bitter, cold, unloving relationship.
Before they know it, a root of bitterness has taken root in their heart and it is not easy to get rid of it.
I thought Cathy's test was quite easy:
Want to know if you are bitter? When you complain about what somebody has done "to" you, and you remember it in detail, and remember it for a while, that is bitterness.
If you have forgiven a person, it won't come up again. If you haven't, you will have a long account of wrongs committed by this person.
I love my friend Kim's method, "KEEP SHORT ACCOUNTS". If somebody offends you, forgive and forget it. If your child does something, forgive and forget it. KEEP SHORT ACCOUNTS.
I truly believe that keeping short accounts, is going to help a person to not become bitter.
If you are harboring bitterness in your heart towards somebody, it is very simple to ask the Lord for help. He is faithful and just to forgive US, and help us.
I think the most important thing about what Cathy had to say today was about walking through that door to the other side. If we leave the wrongs behind and our wrong thinking behind, and walk through the door of forgiveness, our burdens are lifted and we are free from that terrible weight of sin. We are free from the terrible weight of trying to remember all our hurts, and only then can we be free to love Agape' Style. :)