Strong and sharp in taste: having a sharp strong unpleasant taste.
Angry and resentful. Difficult to accept: mentally painful, or very hard to accept
Synonyms: sour, acid, acidic, tart, astringent, vinegary, pungent, harsh, acrid
I’ve been thinking about the act of being bitter and how bitterness, if not dealt with, can affect every aspect of our lives. Bitterness can blind a person to the love that is around them. Bitterness has the power to turn a person inwards, making them selfish and self-consumed. A bitter heart becomes brittle and intolerant. A bitter person will find the bad in every situation unable to see the good. Bitterness can strangle our creative energy. And a bitter heart is unable to open up to God’s love, it is unable to trust in God’s love because it is always in a state of self-protection.
Bitterness is like a weed, it is a living organism that need sustenance to survive and when it’s thriving it has the power to weaken our emotional, physical, and spiritual health. The Bitterness Weed is fed and nourished by our judgmental, negative, self-righteous, and unforgiving thoughts. Because bitterness is living, it will either grow or wither depending on our ability to starve it with forgiveness or feed it with judgment. Starving bitterness is not for the weak of spirit. It requires surrendering our right to justifiable anger and judgment. It demands that we not seek retribution ourselves for our pain, but allow God’s justice, which is a mystery to most of us, to have control.
All of us at one time or another have thought, “They don’t deserve forgiveness” or “It’s not fair, they feel no pain and are suffering no consequence for their destructive behavior” and we’re right, it’s not fair from a human point of view. So, in an effort to bring justice to the situation, we self-righteously judge the individual deeming them unworthy of forgiveness. And then we move on, right? Nope.
The problem is we’re not capable of judging others harshly and moving on. We continue to judge them in our thoughts and before we know it we’re feeding the weed of bitterness. Each time we ruminate over their bad actions and reassure ourselves of our righteous judgment, the bitterness weed grows stronger. Before long our outlook on life becomes a little more negative and our prayer time a little less frequent, and the Bible sits unopened for longer stretches of time on our night stand.
Before long we become bitter leaving a sharp and unpleasant taste in the mouths of our friends and family. Unbeknown to ourselves we become sour, tart, vinegary, pungent, harsh, and acrid in our attitudes and relationships. We have officially become bitter because of our self-righteous right to judge and not forgive. We now have a healthy, bitter-weed garden within our spirit that only God’s love, wisdom, and forgiveness can eradicate.
It’s true that starving bitterness is not for the weak of spirit. It takes unmeasurable amounts of faith, humbleness, and forgiveness to starve bitterness from our spirit. But if we choose to do so, God will help us, He will give us strength when we have none, and the courage to continue to forgive even when it seem like justice is not being served. God’s ways can be a mystery to us but when we follow them they always replace bitterness with beauty.
Debora Shelford Hobbs