bitter is not better

dark chocBitter may be OK for dark chocolate, herbs, or ales, but it is not good for people.

Bitterness is so ugly.
Amy Heckerling

The last few weeks, I heard numerous times about the need to fight against becoming a bitter person. I’m not sure if people were seeing the tendency in me, but I have decided to take the counsel seriously. We all have the ability to become bitter people; life is hard, but we choose how we will respond to the hits that life brings our way.

We start out life very naive and optimistic. We believe that we can do anything if we work hard enough, and we live our days with a (false) sense of immortality and invincibility. We erroneously think we can easily choose our career path, change our spouse, and control our children.

Somewhere between 30-50 years old, we discover that life did not turn out like we thought it would. Individuals and families struggle with terminal illness, unemployment, prodigal children, tragic accidents, incurable medical disorders, loved one’s early deaths, long-term singleness, separation and divorce… unexpected, unplanned, and unavoidable chips to our perfectly manicured world. We get hurt in relationships that cause conflict, under-appreciate and undervalue our work, misunderstand and overlook our contributions. Life is hard – really hard.

It is a simple but sometimes forgotten truth
that the greatest enemy
to present joy and high hopes
is the cultivation of retrospective bitterness.

Robert Menzies

If we focus on negative circumstances, compare our life with others’, or refuse to forgive wrongs, we harden our heart and pave a path toward bitterness. We find ourselves critical, complaining, angry and discouraged with life. It is natural and easy to do.

On the other hand, if we practice gratitude, contentment, and peace with others – even during the hard times – we can pass through our struggles singed by real life, but not burned and destroyed. The pain is real, but it does not have to define us.

Bitterness imprisons life; love releases it.
Bitterness paralyzes life; love empowers it.
Bitterness sours life; love sweetens it.
Bitterness sickens life; love heals it.
Bitterness blinds life; love anoints its eyes.

Harry Emerson Fosdick

I do not want bitterness to control my life. I am praying and asking others to help me process the hard experiences in my life so that I respond with love instead.

How do you fight bitterness? Do you need to ask someone for help?

4 thoughts on “bitter is not better

  1. I think you are so right Terry, bitter is not better, although in the moment, in the hurt, in the memory-it feels ‘good or maybe even ‘just’ to hold on to such feelings When in reality it truly only leads to more pain for you, the Holy Spirit and others.
    Thanks for sharing. Your words remind me of Eph 4:30-32 “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 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, tender hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” how freeing!

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