Embitterment is like a cancer of the mind and heart. It can slowly creep up on you until it takes over.
I’ve known people who’ve been embittered for years. It’s not a pretty picture. It can change the way that you look and feel. Darkness within finds ways of expression through our bodies. The pain that it makes is more than just what you feel when someone is hurtful. Bitterness compounds the pain and increases its potency. You can’t overcome problems with bitterness.
There are also people out there with whom I’ve had misunderstandings. I’ve tried to reconcile, but they won’t call or cooperate with overtures. That’s the problem with bitterness. It doesn’t just affect you, it affects others around you. Perhaps the most regretful part of my life is losing people who I love to bitterness.
Maybe you’ve lost people in the same way. What do you do when that happens? I’ve not found an antidote or cure. I can’t get into their heads and change the way that they think.
I can only wait for them to respond.
How do you keep from getting bitter with others? I’m not entirely sure, but I have developed some exercises that (hopefully) make it very difficult for bitterness to take over.
I find that I have to constantly check the way that I view myself and especially others. I know that I am finite, that I don’t have all the answers, and that I make mistakes. Lots of them. Sometimes big ones. What I don’t always do is think of others in the same way. I have to discipline myself to give others the understanding that I live in – and that I want others to extend to me.
Maybe it’s a lot to ask. Maybe I’ll always react by thinking, “Hey, he did ________ to me!” But I don’t have to respond that way. New response: “Yeah, he did ________ to me. But he is finite, and doesn’t have all the answers. Just like me. And he makes lots of mistakes, sometimes big ones. Just like me.”
While such a response doesn’t make all the pain go away, it does help me to move on and keep my sanity. We’re in the same boat. Maybe it’s a different deck, but it’s the same boat.
Forgiveness is a human thing, but it’s odd to most of us. It’s hard to grasp if you haven’t experienced it. And it’s impossible to extend to others if you don’t know what it’s like yourself.
Forgiveness is what the Bible says that God offers to all humans through Jesus Christ. I’ve bathed in that forgiveness. I don’t understand it fully, but I’m grateful for it. And, because I know that I’m not the only one who it eligible for God’s forgiveness, I know that others are forgivable, too. Even if it is something that I really. don’t. want. to. do.
Forgiveness is to set someone free from a debt that you feel they owe you. This means that they don’t have to pay it. Ever. It also means that you have to let go of whatever petty revenge you wish to impose upon them – or it’s not really forgiveness at all.
For me, an honest perspective and active forgiveness have been crucial in keeping my sanity and my heart free of embitterment.
How about you? What are some ways that you can think of to stay bitter free?