I don’t think anyone wakes up and decides to live a life full of bitterness. No, we dream of lives full of love, joy, and fullness. But somewhere along the way, those dreams get derailed, and pain begins to take center stage.
So where does it start?
Bitterness is merely anger unchecked. Usually, it starts with some form of offense, whether intentional or not, we allow to grow. Over time that hurt, when unforgiven, becomes anger evolving into bitterness.
It subtly grows with each conversation we repeat in our hearts and out our mouths.
“You don’t know what he’s done to me.”
“All they ever did was mistreat me.”
“No matter what I do, it’s never enough.”
We allow all that anger in our minds and hearts to spew out words of hurt to anyone who will listen. We nurse those “wrongs” causing us to miss out on the joys of life.
Before you know it, the bright light of love that once radiated from you is now a flicker hidden behind the darkness of your resentment and bitterness.
Do you want to be the person on the other side of bitterness? Do you want to live with your heart open again?
Here are three steps that can help you move forward to living a full life in Christ beyond bitterness.
One significant step to letting go of bitterness so you can live a full life of love is forgiveness. To take this step, you have to do the hard thing and face your pain. Bring the pain into the light so that it can be confronted, worked through, and healed in the presence of God. As long as all of that anger and bitterness stays locked within our hearts, it grows in the darkness leaving damage in every relationship in our lives.
Let’s be clear. Forgiveness is not saying what the other person did or did not do was “ok.” Instead, forgiveness is saying, “I choose to SURRENDER this situation, this person, this behavior to my loving God who is big enough to carry it all.” Forgiveness is the key to unlocking our hearts so that we can experience the fullness of Christ in our lives.
A part of forgiveness means going to God with our failures, fears, and shortcomings to expose where we have been misguided.
God receives no glory from our bitterness. Forgiveness may not change the situation, but everything changes within us. Our hearts shift from looking at our situation to focusing on the great sacrifice of Christ for us. We can experience freedom and restoration when we choose to surrender all that hurt, anger, and bitterness to Christ.
Bitterness distorts our vision. We hold others hostage for our expectations of what they should have done, could have done or failed to do. We see start to see life through the cloudy lens of our pain and rejection. Every area of our lives is impacted, including our walk with Christ.
When we allow bitterness to take root in our hearts, our willingness and ability to pray for others becomes limited. Bitterness will cause you to talk more about those who have hurt you instead of going to God on their behalf.
So pray, and pray often.
Praying keeps our heart open to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Use scripture to guide your prayer time. What does the word say about anger, bitterness, and forgiveness? Instead of dwelling and retelling the pain, speak God’s truth in your life.
Make a list of those you feel have disappointed, offended, rejected or used you and bring them to God. Spend time praying for them. Luke 6: 28 tell us to, “Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you.” Praying for others includes going to God on their behalf, believing God’s will for their lives, and transformation in their hearts.
Bitterness is a funny thing. It cannot exist in perfect love.
Choose love even when the moment is uncomfortable and when it seems hard. Love helps us to see the good in others before we are so quick to see the bad. Love helps us to extend grace when those we care about disappointment us dearly. Love changes our perspective so that we extend forgiveness more easily and freely.
Loving others is easier to do when you stop to think of how vast and how great God’s love is for you. We love because He first loved us. Love is easier when we understand Christ’s great sacrifice for on the Cross. Because forgiving often and praying often is just loving like Jesus. The more we love, we become more like Him and more aware of the gift He gave us through His blood on the cross.
So choose love!
Great advice! Forgiveness is everything thank you for your wisdom 🙂
Mamie L. PackVanessa
Yes!!!! Changes your entire heart.
Beautiful & inspiring
Mamie L. PackIsland Traveler
Oh, thank you so much!
What a beautiful and inspiring post! I absolutely agree with you that we should let bitterness go and love & forgive instead, even if it’s quietly done inside. Not only is it bad for your soul to become bitter, but for your body as well. Thanks for sharing 🙂
Mamie L. Packkaroadores
Yes! We forget how bitterness impacts our physical bodies as well as our hearts.
Stefanie Fisher Edinger
Exactly what I needed to read at this moment while Satan wrecks havoc in my mind replaying all the hurts of my loved ones. Thanks Mamie for sharing God’s truth through your writing ✍🏻
Mamie L. PackStefanie Fisher Edinger
Oh, I am glad you were encouraged Stephanie!! God’s word truly helps us to live the full life He planned for us in spite of what others may say or do.
This is amazing! Such an uplifting read. Thanks for sharing – I’ll definitely be sharing this!
Bethany Wilson | http://www.mycaffeinatedchaos.com
Mamie L. PackBethany
Wonderful post! It is so important to let go of bitterness and anger in our lives, or it will hurt us in the long run! I especially love the quote at the end about loving like Jesus, it really sums up how we should live as Christians!
Bitterness is a very sneaky and damaging thing. It will quickly take root if we are not diligently watching to prevent it. Thank you for sharing how to let go of bitterness!
This is so true! Holding on to bitterness and resentment always causes us more hurt than the other person. Thank you for the reminder!
Mamie L. PackEvangeline Samuel
Thanks for stopping by!! I appreciate it.
It’s a choice we make every day. Better not bitter, otherwise like a weed it tangles itself around every positive emotion and chocks it. Thanks for your thoughts!
Mamie L. PackAva James
Love the weed analogy Ava! That is so true.
Adriana David (@adavid695)
Hi! Thank you for sharing this with us this week. Forgiving, praying, and loving others is not a easy as it seems sometimes. I am glad that God has forgiven us perfectly!
Mamie L. PackAdriana David (@adavid695)
Me too Adriana!
Mary Rooney Armand
Forgiveness is the path to show God’s love in our relationships. Thanks for such an important post!
Mamie L. PackMary Rooney Armand
I completely agree Mary! Thanks for stopping by.
Timothy R. Berman
I was just sitting in counsel with one of my patient’s yesterday and were discussing the issue of resentment, bitterness, and coming to a place of forgiveness. I asked her: “Do you believe that your unwillingness to be open and receptive in forgiving this individual is due to the unwillingness of forgiving yourself?” When we harbor resentments (there is a Latin word called Sentire that means “too feel”). Resentment means we “feel again and again and again.” It is fueled by our bitterness. Majority of the time, our bitterness and resentment toward others really are the bitterness and resentments toward our own self.
This is so good Mamie! I have a sister in law that we can’t even reach because she is blinded by her pain. She literally aims her bitterness and anger our way as if she wants us to be held responsible and pay for what someone else (parent) didn’t do for her. It is so sad. We can’t reach her because she is mad at us for nothing and refuses to surrender her heart and life to Jesus. Really sad …
I think a poor understanding of true forgiveness is what entangles so many Christians is what keeps us from living a more joyful and full life. Harboring bitterness is so destructive.
Mamie L. PackSummer
I agree Summer! Holding on to bitterness only hurts us.
Bitterness is so sneaky and often times tricky to get rid of, but I love how you made it so simple here with those three points.
Mamie L. Packinthemidstclub
I needed this…lol.Had an issue this week, and I’ve been asking God to help me not hold anything in my heart. Thanks
Mamie L. PackElizabeth Anderson
Going to God is the best response.
I really needed this. Thank you so much for sharing! Blessings, Joni
Such wisdom in remembering that forgiveness isn’t sweeping things under the rug, Instead it is surrendering the situation and all the relationship pieces to God “who is big enough to carry it all!” Beautiful!
I’m always reminding myself that forgiveness is an ongoing thing. Anytime that bitterness pops up its time to remind myself of my choice to forgive and walk in it. It’s hard some days because it can feel like I’m being taken advantage of, when really there is so much more freedom in forgiveness than bitterness.
Mamie L. PackLo Tanner
Forgiveness is so important, especially when we pair it with healthy boundaries.