Dec 13, 2009

Sunday Soaking - Christmas, reflecting on blessings and deeply rooted bitterness

Dear Diary,

Today I woke up thinking about the difference between anger and hurt. I spent my morning shower trying to figure out what forgiveness covers and how long it takes to forgive someone if you aren't actually angry at them. Do I need to forgive if there is no anger or desire to take revenge? I thought about the few people in my life that hurt me so deeply I couldn't brush it off.

I determined that the only people in my life that caused me pain that I couldn't ignore are always those who are closest to me, family, close friends and occasionally "heros" who let me down. I decided that the biggest causes of that hurt are completely because of either 1. unmet expectations or 2. feeling betrayed.

I realized that I deal with anger in a constructive way. If you make me angry, I usually can tell you. However, if you really hurt me, I become a mute. It's like I am personifying my four year old, I get my feelings hurt and I go lay in the fetal position in my bedroom and suck my thumb.

It's what I woke up thinking about today.
I am, AJ

Ah the Christmas Season,
Something about this time of year makes us reflect on our lives, look at our blessings, probably relive our most deeply rooted bitterness and especially consider the relationships we no longer have because of death or discord.

I thought I'd interrupt this otherwise happy, peaceful season with a little devotional about bitterness.
To quote Job 7:11 "Therefore I will not keep silent;
I will speak out in the anguish of my spirit,
I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.

Defined (from Merriam-Webster online)
bitter: distasteful or distressing to the mind : galling, marked by intensity or severity, accompanied by severe pain or suffering, exhibiting intense animosity, harshly reproachful, marked by cynicism and rancor, intensely unpleasant especially in coldness or rawness, expressive of severe pain, grief, or regret

Do you suffer from bitterness that comes from animosity? What about cynicism or severe pain? The Bible is clear about what God thinks about bitterness.

Ephesians 4:31-32: Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Yeah, yeah, I know what the Bible says about it, what I don't know is how to get rid of the bitterness I've allowed to grow where I hurt.

First, let me clarify, some of those who have caused hurt are completely aware of it. They might be angry at me too, or hurt by me. Others have no idea that they hurt me. I know I like to know when I've caused hurt in a friend, I know that I would want someone to say "You hurt me when you did this", but I am a bit of a chicken when it comes to that particular vulnerability.  I end up being awkward and avoiding the person, like one might avoid the sun when they have a sun-burn.

Often I fail to express hurt and instead just express anger.  For me, oftentimes, anger is nothing more than a defense mechanism that says "I don't feel safe", it's really not that someone has done something worth being angry about.  Do you have that problem too?

I love strongly and trust completely.  When I call someone a friend, I seldom withhold my affection or trust.  This causes me to have great friendships, it also has caused a bit of "drama" in my life.  My goal in the last year has to been avoid drama, I get frustrated or annoyed or hurt and have found myself stuffing my feelings (and at times realizing that I should just let it go).

There are one or two relationships in my life I would love to restore, to be fully reconciled, but I can't do that without letting go of my hurt.  I need to forgive.  Now I need your two cents, do you forgive without letting the other person know or do you talk to them?  If the goal is reconciliation, wouldn't a confrontation (even  a "you hurt my feelings" type) just make it worse?  Wouldn't it make it impossible to restore the friendship if the other person responds to your hurt with anger? 

What about you?  Are you holding onto bitterness this Christmas season?  Is it taking a little piece of your joy (or abundant life) away from you?

Today I prayed (and will again) that God will free me from my bitterness, that He will hear my cry and restore those relationships. Praying you do the same.

Just me, AJ


  1. Forgiveness is a long and windy road.....well that doesn't make much sense. I just mean it is complicated.
    The big hurts sometimes I think I have forgiven, but then if they still affect me have I truly forgiven???
    It requires much knee time:)

  2. I had a huge fight with my youngest sister, who can be very difficult for the other 3 sisters (me included) to get along with. There was screaming and mean words which ended with us not speaking for almost a year and me not attending her wedding. I finally decided to let it go (for my mothers' sake- she is dead) and I told her I would let it go if she would. Now we are very careful about how we disagree and sometimes I have to keep my opinions to myself (I wish she would) but I feel better now. She never says "if you have gone to my wedding" and i don't bring it up. I feel better now but I do get angry and bitter about other things and hold onto them. I think it is a work in progress.

  3. It is a complicated thing to forgive and purge bitterness. I have an ongoing bitterness in my life and I have come to realize I can only change me not the other person. They might never change or even acknowledge their part. Sometimes all you can do is reconcile things in your own heart...but what do I know?!

  4. Forgiveness is tough. I find that I have to "Let go and let God" when it comes to this topic. I had a wise priest tell me once that when I struggle with this just pray and admit this to the Lord. Allow Him to do the forgiveness for me. Somehow, looking at it that way helped me let go of some life long issues I had with my parents.

  5. I tend to be a sulker, but only for a short while. If I can't release it, then a prayer and the Let go and let God method always works. :)

  6. OVer from the schultz' blog. GREAT post! I sulk too. And remain mute. AND yes, it's always the one's closest to us that make us feel that way. Love shouldn't be that way.

  7. I want to be a forgiver. I find that writing is uncovering some areas that I am still angry - but the writing is bringing me to a much better place where i can actually look back with humor. I feel like things are getting better - but for me the therapy of confronting it is making a big different.

  8. I can forgive, but I can't continue to let someone hurt me. Even if it's a family member, I have to cut the toxic people out of my life.

    If it's something petty, let it go. Forgive without even telling that person. If it's something important that cannot continue, then talk about it and see if it can be resolved. If it can't...forgive and move on.


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