As Christians, if our desire is to be emotionally and spiritually healthy, it is vitally important we properly recognize and deal with any unresolved bitterness or resentment we may be harboring. Unresolved anger will usually result in feelings of resentment toward the person, experience or situation that caused the anger. Unresolved resentment often results in feelings of bitterness.
One definition of bitterness says bitter feelings are characterized by intense anger, hostility or resentment. However, I prefer to think of our bitter feelings in relation to the definition we most often use to describe something that tastes bitter: “having a taste that is sharp or unpleasant”. Just as something that is bitter will be sharp or unpleasant to our taste buds, our feelings of bitterness should be sharp and unpleasant to our emotional systems.
I don’t know about you, but whenever I put something bitter in my mouth, my first response usually is to get rid of it as quickly as possible. Why then do we often tolerate and even nurse feelings of bitterness toward people or circumstances that have hurt or disappointed us in some way. Feelings that are sharp and unpleasant to our emotional taste buds should be as quickly expelled as are foods that are sharp and unpleasant to our physical taste buds. Just as a bitter food item has the potential of making us physically sick, unresolved feelings of bitterness have an even greater potential for making us emotionally and spiritually “sick”.
Nursing unresolved feelings of bitterness and resentment are tale-tale indications we have not dealt with our hurt and anger in a healthy, Christlike fashion. Instead of taking our hurt and anger to the Lord, we have chosen to wallow in the injustice we feel has come our way. Instead of walking in freedom . . . we have made the decision to become a slave to the strongholds of bitterness and resentment. For that is exactly what we are . . . slaves. We’ve been taken captive as a result of our unwillingness to deal with the situation in a Christlike fashion. What we need to do is forgive, change what can be changed, let go of what we can’t, and move on. Consider the truth found in the following poem:
The moment you start to resent a person
you become … his slave.
He controls your dreams, absorbs digestion,
robs you of your peace of mind and good will,
and takes away pleasure of your work.
It ruins your religion and nullifies your prayers.
You cannot take a vacation without his going along!
It destroys your freedom of mind,
he hounds you wherever you go.
There is no way to escape the person you resent.
It is with you when you are awake.
It invades your privacy when you sleep.
It is close beside you when you eat,
when you drive your car,
and when you are on the job.
You can never have efficiency nor happiness.
It influences even the tone of your voice.
It requires you to take medicine for
indigestion, headaches, and loss of energy.
It even steals your last moment of consciousness
before you go to sleep.
If you want to be a slave…
Harbor your resentments.
(taken from an AA newsletter)
What does God’s Word say about the attitudes of bitterness and resentment?
“Get rid of all bitterness; Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:31-32
“See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” Hebrews 12:15
Both of these passages of scripture give us a picture of bitterness as being something that needs to be expelled or gotten rid of . . . or else we run the risk of our bitterness causing more trouble and even leading to the spiritual defilement of others. In other words, unresolved bitterness and resentment can be “contagious”; our feelings of bitterness can cause someone else to stumble.
In Ephesians 4:32, Paul gives us the Christlike antidote for our feelings of bitterness. We are to be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave us.
Excerpt from Caribbean Freedom – Third & Final Island Legacy Novel, which releases April 6, 2013.
Mateo stomped alongside Andrés as they headed toward the fields located between their two houses, the words he wanted to say simmering just below the surface.
“Go ahead, say it,” Andrés said. “Whatever it is, let me have it.”
“What were you thinking, letting that woman in your home?”
“And your solution would be what? Leave her standing on the front porch?”
Mateo shook his head. “Am I to assume she showed up at your front door this morning uninvited?”
Andrés chuckled. “If you did, your assumption would be wrong, little brother. I extended an invitation yesterday when I dropped her and Doctor Valdés off. I thought she and Elena might enjoy each other’s company.”
Mateo bit back a curse. How could Andrés find anything about Mariela Ramírez’s visit humorous? “Have you lost your mind? Do you make a habit of encouraging friendships between your wife and our enemies?”
“Mariela is no one’s enemy.”
Mateo kicked a thick clod of red dirt; it broke into little pieces. He didn’t have much trouble imagining it had been his brother’s hard head. “And since when did her family become our friends?”
Andrés cuffed his arm. “My dear brother, you seem to forget Mariela is Doctor and Doña Valdés’ granddaughter, which makes her our friend.”
“Not true. Her parents severed that relationship years ago.”
“But that’s just the point. Her parents severed the relationship, not Mariela. After listening to the conversation between her and Doctor Valdés yesterday, I’m convinced she doesn’t know a thing about all that transpired prior to and following her father’s escape from Cuba.”
“Really? How do you know she’s not putting on an act, pretending not to know?”
“And why would she do that?” Andrés waved to a close neighbor as the older gentleman rode past them on a bullock cart. Mateo stared straight ahead, not even acknowledging the man’s presence. Andrés’ next line of attack would probably be a reprimand for his rudeness. But seconds later, instead of a reprimand, Andrés continued to defend Rudi Ramírez’s daughter. “Mariela was barely six years old when her family left Cuba. She told her grandfather that her parents never spoke of him or Doña Valdés, much less their lives in Cuba. I’m telling you, she knows nothing.”
Mateo came to a sudden halt, his eyes narrowed in a stern glint as he glared at Andrés. “You can believe that all you want, but I’m not falling for it. I don’t know what she’s up to, but I can assure you it’s probably no good.”
“You’re one bitter young man.” Andrés shook his head. “And you know what the Bible says about bitterness — that root grows deep and eventually defiles others.”
“What about Mother?”
“Already defiled, I’d say. Already defiled.”
“That’s not what I meant,” Mateo spat through gritted teeth. “Does she know that woman is back in the country?”
“That woman’s name is Mariela, as you well know. And why can’t I get it through that thick head of yours that she was only a child when her parents took her away from here? You talk as if she’s responsible for what her father did.” Andrés’ chest lifted; moments later, a heavy sigh exited through his lips. “As for Mother . . . no, she doesn’t know Mariela’s back.”
“Does Elena know she needs to keep Mariela away from Mother’s house?”
“I’m confident Elena will use caution. She wouldn’t want Mother upset any more than you do. After all, she’s the one who carries the greater burden of responsibility for our mother.”
Now at my bungalow retreat, where I depict country living, bungalow-style through photographs and scripture: I Will Sing Praise. I hope you’ll stop by for a visit: www.bungalowretreat.com.
The official release date for Caribbean Freedom, the third & final Island Legacy novel, was Saturday, April 6, 2013. To help celebrate, my husband and I are hosted a book signing at our bungalow retreat. It was a gloriously beautiful spring day and we had a great turnout.
If you couldn’t make it to the book signing, signed copies of Caribbean Freedom as well as Caribbean Paradise and Pearl of the Caribbean (books 1 & 2 in the Island Legacy series) can be purchased directly from me, or unsigned and kindle edition copies can be purchased through Amazon.com. For more information, check under Novels.
You can also connect with me on Facebook: Author, Teri Metts, or follow me on Twitter or Pinterest.