5 Ways Bitterness is Made Powerless

Over the last few years, some frustrating situations have jarred my expectations and pushed all the wrong buttons. Over time, as these things stacked weight heavier and heavier in my heart, I realized part of the reason they were so hurtful was because they were dredging up unrelated pain from years ago. As I thought over how old things were still affecting me and all the ways I wish they had been different, I found bitterness festering.

Rachel Olson BitternessThankfully, I had a couple wise friends who helped me sort through the whole thing, instead of just addressing the bitterness at surface level and having the same underlying issue continue to pop up over and over again. Here’s what I’ve learned through it:

Pour out your heart to God. Don’t stuff the pain and bitterness or try to muster your own strength to fix it. It won’t do any good trying to pretend or force your bitterness away. Bitterness loses its strength when we can see the situation through God’s eyes. Give God whatever mustard seed of trust you have and ask for his perspective. Ask him to work in your heart and the situation.

Share with a trustworthy friend. Vulnerability can be hard sometimes. It’s so valuable though to have a wise friend to listen, pray with you, speak truth when you need to hear it, and offer insight that you might not see on your own.

Sometimes even just by saying something out loud, helps me see an issue from a new angle or realize it’s a lot more trivial than it seemed in my head.

Ask what’s at the core of the issue. Is it unresolved conflict? Your own pride? Someone else’s sin against you? Unrealistic expectations? Disappointed dreams? How might you need to sort these things out with God, and possibly another person?

If there are action steps, take them. Maybe it’s a process that only needs to take place between you and God in your own heart, and whoever else was involved in the situation never even needs to know about it. Maybe going forward, there’s a change you want to make in how you relate to a specific person, or how you handle conflict.

Or maybe there’s an uncomfortable conversation you need to have with someone. It can be tempting to look ahead and say ‘that’s too hard’, or ‘I don’t think that will make any Bitterness Rachel Olson (1)difference, so why bother?’ But you’ll never know for sure until you try. When I look back at times in the past when I used that logic, I wonder, ‘would things have been different if I had just tried anyway?’

Ask God to move! When we allow God into life’s hard places and give our pain to him, he is able to carve beautiful things. It doesn’t have to go to waste or fester into bitterness.

Today I can look back with thanks for what God has done through those more recent situations I disliked so much. It’s a long process, but the baggage I didn’t know I was carrying is already a few pieces lighter. Where old hurts sparked bitterness, God is bringing beautiful new growth, life, and redemption one day at a time.


Rachel Olson HeadshotRachel Olson recently moved back to the US after making Africa home for 2 years. She hopes to live there again someday soon, where she enjoyed sharing life with hospital patients, learning (and eating!) new things and seeing God offer hope in life’s hard places. Here in the US, she loves a good street taco, card game or deep conversation with friends and family. She longs to see Jesus at work in all of life’s changes, joys, and struggles, and writing helps her make a little more sense of it all. You can find more from Rachel on her blog and Instagram.
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5 Seeds of Bitterness that Need to be Uprooted

Two tiny leaves popped through the newly thawed soil. Stretching toward the sun, they began to grow, each extra bit of sunlight and water fueling them to become the exact imprint of the seed that had been planted months before. Laid dormant through the harsh winter, it was finally time for this new life to break forth into the world.

I watched with delight as the seedling burst forth. I hadn’t lived long in this place, and certainly didn’t know what may have been planted. In the beginning, the tiny leaves were indistinguishable from one another, so I waited with baited breath while I imagined what beautiful things had been sown in this place. I watched carefully, at first, but as they continued to grow I lost track and checked in less often. Until, one day, I rounded the corner to find that the innocent tiny duo of leaves had somehow transformed overnight into a gnarly tangle of thorny foliage.

A weed. In fact an army of weeds, had invaded my yard as I stood there watching. I didn’t have the time to wrestle with it that day, so I left it and went about my business, sure that it would be there to face another day.

Sure enough, when I came back, it was there. Nearly as tall as I am, with a thick stalk and strange alien defenses, the weed defiantly stared me down. Inch long thorns drew blood and precariously fragile fluffy seed pods drifted defiantly in the air around me.

In the cool of the day, as I yanked out the deep roots of this intruder, I began to think of how similar my heart is when infested with unexpected bitterness.

Bitterness Holly HawesBitterness has never been something I saw coming. Instead, it always appears as an unexpected invader. As a seed dormant for a long time, promising new growth, all hiding and disguised bitterness. Death that masqueraded as life until it was so deeply entrenched that tearing it out tore me up in the process.

The seeds of bitterness are tricky, because the same experiences can lead us to different places, depending on how we respond. One way leads to death, and the other to life and peace.

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” Romans 8:5-6

Here are some unexpected seeds of bitterness to watch out for:

Pain

Pain becomes bitterness when we don’t allow God to heal us. The source of the pain doesn’t really make a difference. Loss, betrayal, physical anguish, and the things that make our heart hurt can either push us away from one another and from God, or pull us closer.

When we face pain points in our lives we need to watch carefully. Guard against bitterness towards God by meditating on and wrestling with the truth of his goodness, faithfulness, and power despite the current situation. Guard against bitterness towards others by not expecting them to fix it, or say exactly the right thing.

Avoidance

Relationships become filled with bitterness when we don’t bring up hurts or offenses. We try to get past problems without facing them, and in the process drift away. Soon we realize we haven’t seen the person in months, and it would be quite uncomfortable to encounter them. A gnarly bitterness has grown where there needed to be a simple conversation. In confronting hurts rather than avoiding, we guard our friendships and relationships. The initial plucking out is far less destructive than what we could allow to grow.

Control

Control produces bitterness when we discover that control is a mirage. Whether it is a cancer diagnosis, or a person you’d rather act a different way, any effort to control things can quickly turn into bitterness.

Longings

Holly Hawes BitternessWe all long for something, but if we make our happiness contingent on the fulfillment of our longings, we will discover that none of our longings truly satisfy. That specific person’s approval. The next step in your career. A child. To be included. It isn’t as if these desires are for “bad” things, but the overwhelming nature of the longing can easily elevate it beyond what these good things were meant to fulfill. Long-term lack of the very thing you feel entitled to moves quickly from disappointment to bitterness.

Expectations

How can bitterness grow in the solitary mind? Unspoken expectations can quickly pile up, until our thoughts become centered on how “He never______ ” or “She always____.” This is especially true of roommates, or family members. The people we share close physical proximity with have ample opportunities to fail to meet unspoken expectations. Instead of letting expectations morph into bitterness, have a conversation.

This year, I am facing spring head on. Trowel in hand, I am heading into the mud to root up the seedlings that I have seen turn into painfully-spiky alien invaders. And as I dig, I am examining my heart once again. What have I let grow that God would ask me to dig out? What at first glance looked like innocent leaves, but is beginning to grow into bitterness? Are the things in my life full of the Spirit? Life and Peace? These must be answered if I want true life to flourish.


holly-squareHolly is a wife of 6 years as well as mom to a teenager (by adoption) and a child she’ll meet in heaven. She’s been foster mom to 10 kids in the last 3 years, and works part time as a church bookkeeper. She loves interacting with people who are hungry for change and ready to see God at work in their lives. She studied Intercultural Studies at Corban University and loves to build bridges between cultures and people. She writes to tell the stories of what God has done, especially through her experiences of infertility, foster care, and adoption. These days you’ll find her catching up on housework while listening to a podcast, trying not to have dinner be a Pinterest fail,  and sipping coffee while teaching her daughter to drive.

Free Printable: Ephesians 4:31-32

Throughout February we have been exploring the dangers of bitterness, and Sarah Dohman has created this beautiful scriptural reminder to help you combat it. Put it on your wall, your mirror, or even in you car so that you can kill the seeds of bitterness that try to tangle your heart.

 

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Chri

Get your free Printable Here!

How Resting in Christ Freed Me from Bitterness

Growing up in the church, I was always told God was good and that He loves us, and I didn’t question it for a second. It wasn’t until I was an adult enduring infertility when I began wrestling with those concepts.

“God, are you good?”

“Do you see me?”

“Why does everyone get to move forward and I’m stuck here confused and hurting?”

I wanted answers. Answers from doctors and from God, and I wasn’t getting any from anyone. I found myself bitter, angry, and confused. All I wanted my entire life was to be a mother, and it didn’t look promising.

I searched scriptures. I prayed. I sobbed on my living room floor, grappling to understand what God could be doing. I couldn’t find peace and was resentful. In despair I watched friends and family share pregnancy and birth announcements. I found myself constantly frustrated wanting to control anything that I could, and avoided women’s gatherings not being able to bear any more talk about child rearing. It wasn’t until I did a study about abiding (resting) in Christ that I came to a place where I understood God’s heart regarding my suffering.

Keri Nikkel BitternessIn Andrew Murray’s book “Abide in Christ” he says: “Abide in Christ! This is indeed the Father’s object in sending the trial. In the storm the tree strikes deeper roots in the soil; in the hurricane the inhabitants of the house abide within, and rejoice in its shelter. So by suffering the Father would lead us to enter more deeply into the love of Christ.”

Oh. He wasn’t being spiteful or showing me that I had upset Him. He was asking me to come to Him, like a child running to their father for protection. I had been carrying my burdens and they were weighing me down. All the while thinking I was alone, He was actually walking with me, gently inviting me to bring Him my sorrows and rest in Him. I won’t pretend that my heart changed overnight, and that magically my bitterness and frustration disappeared. But with each day choosing to trust God with my deepest desires, He drew me deeper into peace with Him.

Bitterness Keri NikkelJesus says: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

After placing my hope in Christ instead of an answer, my heart was filled with joy in what had been the most painful time of my life. Our God is a God who redeems, He did have a plan for me to be a mother although it was not the way I initially anticipated. Our whole journey was preparing us for adoption, and I am so thankful for it. Had I held onto my pain and bitterness I would not have been open to what has become my greatest blessing. Yes, at times I do still mourn not bearing a child. But, now knowing I can trust God with my deepest desires, I know that His plan is greater than my own I have found peace in His will.


7c7d0-24955437073_d41206ac70_oKeri is a wife and stay at home mom. God has, and is, using many situations to teach her to abide in Him. She believes we are all given a story that can help encourage others and hopes to offer hers as an encouragement to you.

When Bitter Turns Sweet

Have you ever followed the Lord into risky, frightening territory, and as you did so seen Him do some massive, only-God-could-do-that, miracles? Maybe it was a change of career, or a move to a new place, or to do something entirely outside your comfort zone (like public speaking!). He opened opportunities for you as if they were paper-wrapped presents waiting for his eager hands rather than the mountain-moving challenge that they really were. Then as your trembling faith traipsed after this mighty One and you witnessed these marvels, your hope ballooned into an exuberant song for all to hear.

Kimberley Mulder bitternessWell, the Israelites had that experience when they were dramatically ushered away from their slave owner, Pharoah. Emaciated, oppressed, with all the scars of being slaves for generations, they marched out in darkness under the blackest, most haunting of wails – parents discovering their dead children. The wail alone would have haunted me for the rest of my life, but more immediate to them was the very accurate fear of pursuit. And pursuit came in thunderous rage.

They had followed the Lord with what hopeful faith they could under blood-stained lintels, through blackest wailing alleys, into a frigid and scorching desert on flimsy sandals with an earthly devil in pursuit. They were definitely outside their comfort zone, with their hope uneasy like a lump in the throat before the wave of tears. Then they saw the Red Sea. An obstacle as solid as a rock. The lumps in their throats cracked and their hope tore away from them.

How bitter they were! They wailed and railed against the Lord, “How could you do this to us? We followed you only to die here!” Bitterness flowed in torrents, flooded by their fear.

The Lord’s response is so calmly abrupt, it almost makes me laugh. “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on.” (Ex. 15:15) He gives Moses the details, but really they just had to stop panicking, listen, and go. God was not making a mockery of them, rather, he was making good on his call: to be an example of his saving glory! (Ex. 15:4)

When He calls you out into risky territory, it is always to show His power and love.

They celebrated and worshiped and then God led them whooping into the wilderness of Shur – a funny little coincidence for us English speakers – for we often (and rightly) move ahead after these incredible experiences of God’s salvation with sure hearts.

But for three days they wandered without water. At this point humans often die. As their bodies shut down, their sure hope was evaporating with every breath. Their brains were befuddled by lack of water and by God’s strange leading. Having been slaves, they probably brought their feelings of worthlessness with them. And after seeing God’s might, they might have thought, “Who are we to be worthy of saving?”

Then, water! God has provided again! However, their joy evaporates instantly. What was provision is poison. A bitter trickle. A mockery. Here is your lifesaving water, but, ha, you can’t drink it. This time the grumble is not a torrent of terror, but a whisper of weakness: “What are we to drink?” Their last hope drains away. Finality settles in: Here I will die. I followed as far as I could, but it is finished.

bitterness Kimberley MulderThere was another time that someone said “It is finished.” When He said it, the world went black.

But what was finished? The mocking voice was finished. Its bitter power annulled by the sweet love of the cross. Because he who said “It is finished”, ended the rule of mockery and bitterness. Jesus endured the mockery, the shame, the scorn, the pain, the darkness right to the bitter end. And as he did so, the rule of mockery and bitterness ended.

Bitterness does not have the last word. Because infinite love bent into this bitter world and blessed it, there is sweet in the rescuing and the rising.

The Israelites discovered this in their sure wilderness. Moses cried out for mercy and God steeped a stick of hope in the stream of bitterness. His powerful love drives out all bitterness, and with it all fear. “Perfect love drives out all fear.” (1 John. 4:18)

Let his life steep in yours and you will find any streams of bitterness in your life being turned to sweet.

 


2016-11-02 13.10.06Kimberley Mulder is a contemplative at heart who deeply enjoys the company of Jesus in the day-to-day of caring for her family of 5 (plus a dog and a cat), teaching English to immigrants, growing her garden, and writing. Currently, her walk with Jesus is taking her more deeply into writing as she leads a spiritual formation group at her church, and shares on her blog Living a Mary Life in a Martha World.  She treasures the truth that God’s Word does not go back to him without accomplishing the purpose for which he sent it, and that that Word is embodied in our lives. (Isaiah 55:11)

Out of the Bondage of Bitterness

I had the perfect recipe brewing for letting bitterness take root, for letting it fester, consume me by taking over my thoughts, and even for seeking revenge. I believe most people wouldn’t have blamed me if I had taken any one or all of those actions. After all, I did have a husband who had been unfaithful to me.

A husband who had, not just once, but repeatedly for nearly the entire length of our two-year marriage chosen other women over me. People would have understood my anger. My bitterness. My unforgiveness of “the big one” in marriage.

Kayla Anderson BitternessThankfully, before I knew what was to be in the coming days, the Lord knew the path my life would take and only three weeks into marriage, He led me to sneak into the back row of the church my dad was a youth pastor at while he was speaking to a group of teenagers. Dad’s message for that night about all about forgiveness. He shared a story about a friend he had who repeatedly hurt him in the same way over and over again. Dad shared that he had learned to forgive ahead of time – anticipating another similar hurt, he prepared in his heart that he would forgive again before it even happened.

I purposed to take that nugget of wisdom and store it. The first time I learned about the unfaithfulness of my ex-husband, I was shaken to my core. I didn’t expect it or anticipate it; I never saw it coming. However, I chose to forgive as my husband wept and repented. And then I recalled what Dad had said – and I decided to box up and store away some forgiveness for any future offenses of this nature.

A few weeks later, I found myself reaching into the forgiveness box again (and all too quickly again and again, and about every 2 or 3 weeks for the remainder of our marriage). This all continued for two years until finally my ex-husband ultimately decided that he really did think his life would just be better off without me in it.

In the aftermath of this all, I had some girlfriends astonished that I would go through this ordeal over and over with him for two years. “Why are you putting up with that!?” “Why are you not just so angry with him?” “Why do you keep forgiving him and giving him more chances when he keeps hurting you like that?” they would ask me.

Why? Well, because God is the God of forgiveness. Because God is the God of healing and of restoration. And because I wanted those things He offered so much more than I wanted to hold onto anger or bitterness. God didn’t tell us to forgive one time and only give one more chance – He just simply instructed and called us to forgive.

“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘ I  tell you, not seven times, but 77 times.” Matthew 18:21-22

Bitterness Kayla AndersonForgiveness does not always mean that you have to stay but it does mean that you have to choose to release all of the emotions binding up your heart and mind. I wasn’t certain of our future but I had chosen to fight for our marriage until the choice was out of my hands and decided by the other person in my marriage. I wanted to choose forgiveness over and over again, regardless of how “foolish” that might lookto the rest of the world. Beth Moore, one of my favorite authors, wrote that “forgiveness may be excruciating for a moment, but anger and bitterness are excruciating for a lifetime.” I wanted wholeness and healing from the pain and sought it with my whole heart, broken as it was. I wanted to be free of the bondage of bitterness or anger that could take root in my life and spread like weeds if I allowed it.

“Keep a sharp eye out for the weeds of bitter discontent. A thistle or two gone to seed can ruin a whole garden in no time.” Hebrews 12:15, The Message

We all battle hurt feelings, being let down, feeling betrayed, humiliated or angry at the hand of another person. However, it’s our choice of how we are going to handle those feelings. I knew I didn’t want to nurse a grudge and refuse to forgive. I knew that choosing to not forgive him would cost me a whole lot more than it would cost my ex-husband.

Bitterness is willfully choosing to hold on to hurt or angry feelings and forgiveness is willfully choosing to release it. Because while sometimes it can feel like we are unable to or justified in choosing not to forgive, sometimes we need to realize that we are simply unwilling to forgive. Just as loving someone is a choice, so is the act of forgiveness because that’s exactly what it is – an act, not a feeling.

I didn’t feel forgiving towards my ex-husband. You know what I really felt? I felt angry, betrayed, humiliated and like a used piece of trash just tossed to the wayside. I felt hurt that he had not taken his marriage vows as seriously as I took them and that I was now going to be a 21-year- old divorcee, used and abused, and without the life companion that I so deeply longed for.

However, feelings aside, I deeply wanted that healing from the Lord which would bring wholeness again. That redemption for my life and my story. I begged God to take my broken heart, to fill in the cracks and smooth them out again. To move towards having a healthy heart again, I knew it needed to start with forgiveness and releasing any potential of bitterness in my current situation. Though I didn’t feel it, I needed to act upon it.

Forgiveness is an act of surrender: surrendering to God’s will, God’s instruction, and God’s plan for redemption. We don’t have the ability in ourselves to forgive others but God can empower us to extend forgiveness, even in the hardest of situations where we are left feeling completely shipwrecked by the actions of another. Something we often can misunderstand is that forgiveness is not about the other person. It’s not agreeing or condoning what happened, it’s an acceptance of what has happened and then releasing it to the Lord in exchange of healing.

Forgiveness is a gift that God has given us to free ourselves of the bondage of bitterness and control that someone else had over our life. Forgiveness is a gift because Jesus died on the cross for us to forgive us of our sins.

“But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds, we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5

Friends, did you catch that? We all have great potential to want to hold on to our wounds inflicted upon us and let them fester…but we don’t have to. So rather than clinging to bitterness, offense and resentment, may we all learn to cling to the forgiveness and healing of our wounds which is found in Jesus. For by His wounds, we are healed.


Kayla AndersonKayla Anderson is married (for better or for worse) to the one who she knows without a doubt that God created her to be companions with.  Together they have four young children, Ezekiel, Asher, Ellery and Alder, and run a hand-crafted soap shop.  She is a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom and is in a season of learning how to gracefully be the central point and glue of their family.  Thank the Lord that she has Him to look to for wisdom, guidance and strength!  She loves reading in the quiet, early morning hours, decorating their sweet little home, writing has been part of her soul since she learned how to write letters, and her love of coffee runs deeper than her coffee pot.  You can find more from Kayla on her blog or Instagram.

5 Verses to Combat Bitterness

Author: Karly Grant

When I think about the role of bitterness in my life I quickly become prideful. I am either too proud to admit that I am one of “those” people who are bitter, angry, and miserable, or I go the other route and think that I deserve to be bitter because nobody understands how I’ve been wronged or hurt.

Bitterness Karly Grant (1)Admittedly, the last few years I haven’t been a shining example when it comes to bitterness. There have been some extremely difficult times in my family and in other relationships. There have been periods when I was too proud to admit to being bitter or unforgiving. There were periods when I thought it was my right to just sit in bitterness. Then I think of Jesus and the rights to be bitter he could hold over me.

During these times, Jesus reminded me over and over that I was not alone in this. I have a God who cares about me, and to him I long to bring glory. My bitterness and pride does not give my God the sacrifice of praise I desire to lay at his feet. I have often heard a paraphrase of the Josh Shipp quote, “You either get bitter or you get better…” combined with some version of “the difference is just one letter, and that letter is I.” I am here to tell you that I have seen a lot more healing and growth when it’s not all about the “I” of pride, but when it’s about the J-E-S-U-S who paid the ultimate price to give me freedom.

His wisdom is better than my own. His words are true and have helped me through difficult times. I have held to the following verses to help me in this fight against bitterness:

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:31-32 (ESV)

“Behold, it was for my welfare that I had great bitterness; but in love you have delivered my life from the pit of destruction, for you have cast all my sins behind your back.” Isaiah 38:17

“Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled.” Hebrews 12:14-15

Bitterness Karly Grant“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.” James 1:19-21

“Be angry, and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Selah. Offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in the Lord.” Psalm 4:4-5

These are just a few of the amazing words that God uses to speak into our lives and hearts. Many other verses could be used as well, but I think the biggest message is that God is for us and Bitterness is against us. It breeds angst and pride. As I have gone through, and will continue to go through difficult times, I am so thankful to have a God in my life who accepts my repentance my bitterness and leads me to glorifying Him for all the blessings I have in life.


image1 (1)Karly is a single 30-something who is striving to follow Jesus and trust Him in every situation. She can be found with a cup of tea or a good beer in hand while cozied up with a good book or enjoying a laugh with family or friends. God has her on a wild journey. In the last year she has quit her job of 15+ years and gone back to school full-time to pursue a career/ministry in the realm  of adoption. God has laid this heavily on her heart and she is willing to trust Him. This homebody is taking the biggest leap of faith yet this spring and moving 1,700 miles away from the life and people she has known as long as she can remember. She is  both terrified and so stinking excited to see how God moves and what opportunities He provides in this adventure.

Choosing Thankfulness

I know bitterness holds people back. It feels like being stuck. The “bitter old woman” is a bit of a cliché, but when I hear that phrase, I think of someone who is somehow cemented in the past, unforgiving, and resentful.

This has certainly been true of me at various points in my life. I’ve been bitter about events that have occurred and enraged at the failures of people in my life.

Sarah Clews BitternessThe Bible has a lot of say about bitterness, including Proverbs 14:10, “Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can share its joy.

Last May I found my heart at a bit of an emotional precipice. While trying to turn left across a busy highway at a tricky spot, we were in a car accident. Although it was a serious accident (our car was totaled and airbags deployed), miraculously no one was seriously hurt including our three little girls who were in the car at the time. As I tried to sort through my feelings afterwards, I realized I had a choice. I could look at the accident two ways.

On one hand, I could think to myself, “Where was God on that day? Why didn’t he protect us from being in the accident?” On the other hand, I could think, “Wow, I’m so thankful God spared us from any serious injuries or death. He obviously prevented something worse from happening.” I could choose to become bitter that the accident had occurred at all, or I could choose to be thankful that God protected us from much worse.

bitterness Sarah ClewsAlthough it took months for me to feel comfortable in the car again and there are still things I’m working on, I did choose thankfulness. If I had chosen bitterness, it would have kept me fastened to that moment, unable to move forward because of my resentment. Because God led me to choose thankfulness, I was able to look forward with hope. God still has a purpose for my life. He chose to spare my family, and I believe He has a special plan for us.

Lamentations 3:22-23 “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

That place of being stuck, bitterness, is a place of unforgiveness, anger and hopelessness. Hebrews 12:15, See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” How much trouble has bitterness caused? God calls us to more—to forgiveness and hope. He calls us to press on  and seek the crown of life which He has promised.


sarah-c-squareSarah Clews loves being the wife of Carson and mother to three little girls. She received her degree in English from Corban University and still loves the craft of writing. She also helps her husband run a martial arts school. In her free time, Sarah enjoys talking with grown ups (!), finding new authors, doing online research, and reading her favorite childhood stories to her girls.

God’s Three Word Answer

Author: Linda L. Kruschke

I’ve seen prayer answered in miraculous ways. God constantly reaches beyond my expectation, even when there is no expectation at all. He answers and is faithful to provide what I need.

By now, I should assume an answer will be forthcoming. Yet His latest response to a prayer took me by surprise.

I confessed to my Bible study group that my focus on a few of my mother-in-law’s seemingly-insensitive comments over the years had clouded my perspective. I had allowed a tiny seed of bitterness to take root and had convinced myself that she didn’t really like me. I knew I would be spending time with her over the holidays and needed prayer to have a better mindset when we were together.

Several days later, I had the opportunity to share my beloved nativity collection with a friend. As I described each set, I heard myself telling the story of how my mother-in-law had given me a ceramic nativity she made when pregnant with my husband.

Bitterness Linda L. KruschkeThen came the story of the myrtle-wood nativity that my mother-in-law’s mother brought back from Israel. As I mentioned she could have given it to one of my three sisters-in-law or a niece, but instead gave it to me, I realized how special she must consider me. God used these reminders of her love over the years to begin to uproot that bitter sprout Satan wanted to flourish. My attitude softened.

We ended up having great visits both at Thanksgiving and New Year’s weekend. In the morning on New Year’s Day, she asked me a question I didn’t expect. “You must have some good memories of your mom?”

“Not really,” I replied. With chapter three of my memoir front and center in my thoughts, I continued, “She had cancer the first time when I was only eight or nine, and then again a year later. She lost her sister and her mom a few years before that. She was always sick, it seemed, and I don’t remember her ever smiling or being happy.”

The subject changed and the morning continued, with showers, breakfast, and packing. Then we all went out to lunch before we had to hit the road for home.

As I usually do before we leave my in-laws’ house, I gave her a hug. “Thanks for coming,” she said. “I love you.”

I love you. With those three little words God completed His answer to my prayer. I don’t ever remember her saying those words to me before.

She has shown me in many ways over the last thirty-two years that she loves me. She’s actually been mom to me for more years than my real mom, who died when I was twenty-three. She has always treated me like a beloved daughter.

In that moment I also knew that my real mom loved me, too, even though it didn’t always seem like she did and she didn’t say it much.

It’s funny how God knows the things we need to hear to heal our doubting hearts. He reminded me to focus on the loving acts of others, and not on the careless things someone might have said. After all, we all are prone to let an thoughtless word slip from our lips once in a while.

Linda L. Kruschke BitternessAre you holding onto a careless remark and bearing a grudge against the one who said it? Have you allowed a seed of bitterness to sprout? Has a past hurt clouded your perspective of how much someone really loves you? Listen to this wisdom from Colossians 3:12-14:

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Seeds of bitterness destroy relationships, or at least make them more difficult. Will you ask God for His three-word answer to uproot this noxious weed in your life today? It is my prayer that you will seek His power to forgive and His grace will fill your heart today.


Readers, If you need prayer to heal from bitterness,  tell us in the comments and we will pray for you.

Linda_2017_01Linda L. Kruschke is the author of My Name Is Beloved, winner of the Unpublished Memoir category of the Oregon Christian Writers Cascade Writing Contest, as well as self-published author of two poetry books. She is a wife, mother, active member of her church, and former Bible Study Fellowship leader. After struggling through years of major clinical depression and finding God’s healing grace, she is now a fearless follower of Christ, living in the assurance of her salvation and God’s love. She blogs at Another Fearless Year and Broken Believers.

Sweet Freedom from a Bitter Heart

I crammed the square of chocolate into my mouth in wonderful anticipation of the smooth sweet taste.   My salivary glands were already reacting when my brain fired off an alert and my senses went reeling.  Something was terribly wrong.  I glared at my older brother who sat nearby with watchful eyes and knowing smirk while I spit the bitter brown nugget from my mouth.

“What is that?”  I yelled at him, my eyes flashing in anger and horror.

“Chocolate,” He replied with a laugh forming on his lips.

“No it isn’t!”  I protested as I tried to punch him; he was too quick for me.  My Mom emerged from the house, “What are you shouting about?”

“He’s trying to poison me.  He said it was chocolate!  It tastes like death!”

She turned toward my brother as he shrugged with a smile, “What?  It was chocolate.  Baker’s chocolate, but still chocolate,” he looked at me, “relax, you aren’t gonna die.”

My Mom sighed, “Kinda mean though.”

I shot darts from my eyes at my brother as I went to get a drink and wash the bitter taste from my mouth.

I’ve never forgotten that taste of baker’s chocolate, but I’ve come to know another kind of bitterness as well; the pain of a bitter heart.

I’ve also discovered that it isn’t as easy to wash away the bad taste in my heart as it was the bitter taste from my mouth.

It hurts more.

And when something once sweet turns bitter, the result seems all the more pungent; all the more unbearable.

Maybe that’s why addressing bitterness is a long, hard road.

You can’t just cover bitterness up, it has to be washed away and cleansed completely.  I only know one Person who can totally manage my heart.

Bitterness Jacqi Kambish (1)I’ve faced my fair share of bitterness.  In the past, I’ve try to force myself to get over it, but some things aren’t that easy.  Even when I thought I’d moved passed it, I’d come to realize I hadn’t.  I’d see the person in church or at school or wherever I ran into them and suddenly I would know.  The taste of loathing would find its way to my tongue, and I would know I hadn’t fully addressed the shadows in my heart.

Not very long ago, I had to work through those dark corners within me once again.  I stared at the object of my dismay across the room as she tipped her head back and laughed.  I knew from the ugly feelings bubbling up inside me that I hadn’t properly dealt with the hurt.

Had we been friends…once upon a time?

I supposed, in my grumpy state, that perhaps I had only thought we were friends.  Perhaps we never had been friends at all.  I felt betrayed, cast aside, and neglected.  I felt foolish and alone.  But even more, I felt ashamed that those feelings were twisting up inside of me because when I looked in the mirror and faced them, I saw how ugly they really were.

Every time I thought I could stuff them down and make them go away, I was reminded that the bitterness still raged like a monster inside of me.

It wasn’t totally her fault; life had happened and I got left behind.  It wasn’t malicious, but it still hurt.  My problem wasn’t her though.  Not really.  It was all the lies I believed about myself.

The lie that I was better than my feelings and that I didn’t need to address them because they were silly.

The lie that I wasn’t worthwhile or valued.

The lie that I wasn’t pretty enough, or smart enough or good enough.

The lie that I wasn’t needed and that it made me void of purpose.

The lie that I could be easily forgotten.

The lies hurt, the loss of friendship hurt and bitterness crept in.  I wanted to spit it out, but I couldn’t.  It stayed with me far too long.

It was then that I confessed to the LORD and asked the LORD to heal my wounded heart.  It was then that I confessed my feelings to trusted members of my church and asked for prayer, and it was then that the healing truly began.

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.  The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”  James 5:16

Jacqi Kambish BitternessWhen I finally faced the darkness in my own heart I realized I needed to confess and ask for prayer.  The change in my heart didn’t happen right away.  It was slow progress.  Still, God began to soften my heart toward the other person.  He started to show me that she was hurting in her own ways as well.  He started to create compassion within me.  Slowly, the compassion edged out the bitterness until all that remained was a genuine love, peace, and freedom I didn’t know was possible.

It wasn’t my doing.

I didn’t change me; God did.

But I let him.

And as I let him change my heart, he also showed me the truth about myself:

That those lies I believed where indeed lies. My value doesn’t come from being loved by people, but by belonging to God and being loved by him. That is the sweetest truth of all.

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  John 8:32


Jacqi KambishJacqi Kambish is a Christian mom to three spirited children striving to balance the daily demands of parenting a child with special needs and meeting the needs of typically developing siblings while working full time and writing.  She earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Bible Theology and Youth Ministry from William Jessup University.  Jacqi lives with her family in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado and enjoys reflectively writing about parenting, faith, and the joys and trials of life while leaving her readers with hope and encouragement.  Her blog The Presumptuous Ladybug can be found at and you can connect with her on Facebook.