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?

honoring a great woman

patronsaintsmidwivessynchroblogIn honor of International Women’s Day, Sarah Bessey is hosting a link-up for us to honor the Spiritual Midwives and Patron Saints in our lives. My mind immediately began to race about all the incredible and amazing women who have graced my life…

Spiritual Midwives (those I know personally), Patron Saints (those I have never met), and precious lives that have intersected with mine through the years. I could write about so many of them…

Today I have decided to honor one woman in particular… my sister.

terry n lulu

This very special lady was instrumental in introducing me to a personal relationship with God. In her new faith, she bravely shared with me her child-like knowledge, facing my skepticism and scoffing, and her changed life was one of the key elements in my ultimate choice for saving grace. Her continued faith through the years is a great encouragement to me.

Her life has not been easy and she has had her share of struggles and stumbles along the way, but she continues forward always. She has never given up – although I know she has felt tempted. She prays for, serves, defends, and loves her husband, children, family, friends, and community. She is authentic and real about her life story, and her lack of pretense attracts others to her.

She is a faithful listener and a truth-speaker. We love to walk and talk together, and she has challenged me more than once to reconsider my heart attitude and my natural inclinations for something better. She speaks without judgement, but rather with a sincere desire to help and encourage.

My sister’s help is so often sacrificial. We have to remind her to take care of her own needs. She is hospitable, generous, creative and humble. She is often found cooking, cleaning, running errands, or babysitting for others. She has welcomed my whole crazy family into her small, cozy home for too-long periods of time more times than I could ever count. More than that, she has welcomed us into her heart.

My sister will probably never be famous outside of a small community circle, but her influence will reach the world through the people she prays for and supports.

I love you, Laura, and I honor you on this International Woman’s Day! May your legacy be an encouragement to many other woman today and in the future. ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

_____

Who are your spiritual midwives or patron saints? Who would you like to honor today?