I can sometimes be bitter. I know I am not the only one who struggles with it. Bitterness is tricky. It causes us to feel hatred towards others, constantly dwelling on them getting what I think they deserve.
I used to be very bitter. I have been done wrong by many people in my life that I thought were close to me. It sometimes felt like I was the one being punished and they got to continue on with their lives. I was so so bitter. I was the one who was hurting, who had to start over. I was the one who was suffering silently and everyone knew it. I would cry out to God and say, it’s not fair. Why aren’t they sorry? Why don’t they feel convicted? Why aren’t they the ones suffering? They don’t deserve what they are getting.
As time went on and I drew closer to God, I thought my bitterness had gone away. I had gotten an amazing job at my church, I was meeting new people and taking steps to reach my goals and dreams. But something was keeping me from truly moving on from my situation. Despite all of the wonderful things God was doing in my life, it felt like there was this one hurdle I just couldn’t jump over to truly reach what I wanted. It was my bitterness.
“See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and spoil many.” Hebrews 12:15
In this verse, it says to not let a bitter root grow inside you. I found it interesting that it uses the roots of a plant. I am not a farmer by any means, but I do know that roots are very important to a plant and its growth. The roots of a plant are its lifeline. They take up oxygen, water and nutrients to the plant to make it grow. The plant that everyone sees is a product of its roots. If the roots are bad or infected then the plant will wither up and die, but if the roots are strong and healthy the plant will grow into whatever it was meant to be.
If we let the root of bitterness take over our strong root system, the plant that everyone will see will be withered and brown and we won’t continue to grow into our destiny. This was what I was experiencing. The root of bitterness had overcome me and was stunting my emotional, mental and spiritual growth. My old youth pastor said it best:
“Bitterness is like drinking poison and expecting someone else to die.”
He used to drill this into our heads growing up. Being bitter doesn’t affect anyone but yourself. It took me a long time to truly understand what my youth pastor was trying to tell us. Our bitterness only affects us and keeps us from reaching our potential, not anyone else’s.
So many you find yourself in the same position I was in. You’ve been hurt, broken, betrayed and you are bitter. I know the answer but you might not like it. The concept is simple, but the act is much more difficult than we would like to admit.
That’s the answer to getting rid of your bitterness. So you might be thinking, I can’t forgive them. You don’t know what they did to me, what they said about me. They don’t deserve my forgiveness. Yeah, I didn’t think anyone deserved my forgiveness either. But you know what I realized, none of us deserve forgiveness, but God forgives us anyways. We all deserved to die a sinner’s death, be He is gracious and merciful and will extend forgiveness to us and all we have to do is ask.
The Bible goes into great detail about why we should forgive others, but the best place to learn about forgiveness in my mind is through the story of Jesus.
“Jesus said ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.’” Luke 23:34
These are the precious words that Jesus said right before He died the death we deserved on the cross. None of us deserve forgiveness. We are humans and the bible specifically says we are going to fall short and sin against God. But Jesus died so that we could freely ask for forgiveness when we mess up, even when we deliberately sin against him, so why shouldn’t we also freely forgive those who do us wrong?
I’m not going to lie, forgiving those who had hurt me was really hard, but I asked God to see those people through His eyes. What I saw broke my heart. We are all broken and struggling with things in our own way. Once I saw those people through a Heavenly lens, instead of hating them, I prayed for them.
“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Matthew 5:44
Once I began praying for these people, the forgiveness seemed almost natural and the bitterness began to lift right off my shoulders. It was a huge burden that I had been carrying for a long time, and I still sometimes struggle with it, but when I start to feel angry the only thing I know to do is pray.
If you know that the root of bitterness is keeping you from moving forward or hindering your relationship with God and others, I want to encourage you to pray for the person you are bitter towards and ask God to see them through His perspective. Ask Him to help you forgive them, even if every single day you have to get up and make the choice to forgive them. I promise it will change your life.