How can you tell that you have become bitter? Here are some evidences:
- You can’t speak kindly to the person or about the person
- You can’t forgive or get rid of the anger towards that person over the situation
- You are easily irritated by things they do or say
- You can’t resolve the conflict
In my last post I gave examples about how bitterness may manifest itself. What if we were to return to those examples, but change them up? What if we recognized the wrong thoughts and attitudes when they first arose, and replaced them with right thoughts? What would that look like?
In example one I had you imagine that you had a friend say something to you that was offensive or mean sounding to you. Instead of thinking, “I can’t believe he/she said that to me!”, you turn your wrong thoughts to God, confessing, “I’m sorry Lord for being defensive, and thus not demonstrating humility. Help me to think what is true and to not jump to conclusions.” Then you proceed to ask your friend what they meant when they said that to you, perhaps explaining if necessary that it came across as harsh to you. When you ask them about it, they are quick to clear it up, apologizing that they didn’t mean to hurt you by their negligent words. What if they really didn’t say anything offensive at all, but you took what they meant and misinterpreted it and were hurt by it, because in reality, they didn’t live up to your expectations? You would have spent so much time thinking wrongly of them when they didn't mean anything bad in the first place.
In example two you are annoyed by a sibling that leaves his stuff around everywhere. In this case, instead of inwardly stewing because he’s so careless, why don’t you take the opportunity to gently remind him that it would be nice if he put his shoes away somewhere when he came inside instead of leaving them scattered across the house. Be sure to be a part of the solution instead of simply telling him to “just stop”.
I believe example three deserves a post all to itself, so it’s coming next!