Last month we discovered that wounding, desertion, deception, and rejection were all components of betrayal that sit in our spirit and continue to be nurtured by our pain. Because we hold betrayal so close to our hearts, on our mantelpieces, it becomes a part of us that gives birth to its baby, bitterness.
What is bitterness? Here’s my definition: Bitterness is the point at which we arrive when, after being wronged, we choose to dwell on the wrongdoing rather than forgive and move on. Therefore, our unforgiveness festers and becomes bitterness. Once bitterness begins to grow it defiles all those it touches, starting with the one who is bitter and extending to other relationships (Heb. 12:120-15) Bitterness destroys inner peace and can ultimately lead to physical illness.
What is interesting to me is the relationship between bitterness and unforgiveness. Most women will agree that they have the propensity to hold grudges long because they don’t forget infractions done against them. Can’t you remember all the times you’ve been wronged? Someone has done something to you that was low down and dirty! You sacrificed y our time, probably even y our money to help them out! Your husband told you not to, your momma told you not to, your best friend said, “Don’t do it!” but you did it anyway and they stabbed you in the back! Did you choose forgiveness or bitterness? If you said you forgave them but you didn’t forget—that’s not genuine forgiveness. True forgiveness says that you will continue to treat the person the same way you did before the infraction.
Maybe the thing that was done to you was truly horrible—a cheating spouse, an incestuous attack, a rape, a murder of a loved one—there are countless things that could have happened to which you might feel justified in your anger. That’s a natural response—but we’re talking about a supernatural God—a God that majors in impossible situations. True forgiveness can only come through Him! The bible says that bitterness and anger defiles us—it invades us and we become tainted by it—unclean. We must make a conscious decision—an act of our will—to let go of the bitterness by turning it over to Jesus and leaving it there!
Whatever you are going through or have gone through serves a divine purpose. That sounds like an oxymoron doesn’t it? That the horrible things that might have occurred in your past have a divine purpose? Well, it does. The Bible says that ALL things are working together for the good of them that love God and are the called according to his purpose. In looking for a remedy for bitterness we must first turn to Christ (Rom. 5:8-10) and after we’ve accepted His forgiveness we are able and commanded to forgive others (Matt. 6:12). A practical way to do that is replace bitterness with love (I Cor. 13:4-7; Gal. 5:22) - especially to the those who have wronged us!
What are you still holding onto? What hidden stuff has still a hold on you? Issues of abandonment, abuse, not feeling loved, told that you were ugly, not good enough, prostitution, addiction….what’s holding you back from forgiving? What’s driving a wall between you and love? God wants to heal you, he knows your struggle and your pain. He listens when you cry at night feeling like no one understands. He loves you with an everlasting love! He wants you to release the power from the person who has wronged you and allow the Power of the Holy Spirit to dwell in you instead. You might be going through some deep stuff, my sister! You might have a lot of skeletons poking their bony fingers out of the closet—accusing you of all types of things. But I promise you one thing, if you allow God to love you—to heal you, to embrace you—you will come forth victorious and whole! I can’t tell you anything I don’t know so know that what I’m telling you I’ve tried it, tested it, and experienced it for myself. My prayer for you is that you are healed from all bitterness and unforgiveness so that you can walk in the promises of God and be the powerful woman of God He has ordained for you to be!
Next month we’ll end our series by tearing down the walls of backbiting! Until then, GO AND BE HEALED!