"Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life". Proverbs 4:23
In other words, hard and protect your heart (mind, will, emotions, & affections), because from that all your issues (situations of concern or blessing) of life will come.
Bitterness is a sneaky emotion and oftentimes poisons more than the one who is harboring it. Unfortunately, those who are in fact bitter, rarely think themselves to be a bitter person.
Contentment, Happiness, Sweetness, Gladness, Gratefulness, Warm and Welcoming
Each of these words are much more agreeable to align with and be described as and while many who are all of these things and more, still have seeds, roots and even fruits of bitterness. Bitterness is one of those emotions most people can cleverly disguise until they can't. Bitterness is toxic a cancer that will spread and grow. It is also the root of many a disease. In addition, bitterness can contaminate your entire family line. Bitter people tend to pass bitterness on to their children. In order to thrive and walk out your own purpose, we must get the roots of bitterness out. In order to leave a stunning legacy of a whole, healed and healthy family line, again, we must deal with those bitter seeds and roots. Finding freedom in this area begins and ends in forgiveness.
In recent week I have felt myself grow increasingly bitter. While most would agree it reasonable for me to do so, what with being a fairly young widow and all, I knew in my spirit this was something altogether different. By nature I am not a bitter person, I do not enjoy feeling negative whatsoever, hence why my trade is helping others heal their own emotions. This feeling grew to a point that every time I turn around there was a bitterness that I could almost taste.
Going to my prayer closet, armed with essential oils, a journal and pen I began to seek the Lord on the origin story of this bitterness. Rarely is it that I seek out the Lord on an issue without my essential oils because my brain can be so muddied with life and lies and thoughts that are not from Him, that I use the oils to clear out the cobwebs of nonsense, oxygenate my brain in order to know that I know I have heard correctly. Plus, it just gets me there faster. You know?
A quick whiff of Lavender, Frankincense and a blend called Stress Away opened my mind so that a memory came flooding in. That's also how essential oils work- memories are triggered by smell and smell only. If you are seeking to unlock a memory that you didn't know you had (for therapeutic purposes of course), then oils are the fast pass to this journey.
What sprang to mind immediately was the memory of losing my baby Judah. You can read about that in my most recent post. It wasn't so much the loss of a precious baby boy that created and planted a seed of bitterness, it was what a woman carelessly said to me just days following that sealed the deal.
While playing at the park with my two oldest children, then 4 & 2, a woman with three children came along and looked me square in the face saying "you are SOOO lucky you ONLY have two children! Three is so hard!". I don't remember much after that because my head was spinning with disbelief that she would say such a thing after I had jsut lost my third baby. Of course, she had no idea. Choking back sobs etc we left. I shared the interaction with my husband but it never really occurred to me the damage that had been done by one senseless word, and, one choice of receiving the word into my soul.
As painful as those words had been and as stupid and they were to utter, I still had two choices that day- forgive, release the hurt to the Lord, asking Him to heal me, or harbor the resentment towards this woman.
I chose the latter.
I chose poorly.
The saddest part was not only did I take offense to her words, but it caused a belief system in me that ultimately affected how I viewed the entire state of Texas and its native residents. Did I have the right to feel upset and hurt, sure. But life is full of choices and by doing so, by making space for the hurt to grow, the seed of bitterness grew into a lovely bitter tree aimed right at the very state I am called to live and work in.
Again, poor decision on my part.
No matter what happens in our lives we all have a two-item menu-
Forgive and release
Make space for the seed to be planted and then water it well with other offenses etc
If you go over to Google and look up ways to not be bitter (I have) everything you read will be superficial fixes.
If you search in your oil reference guide for the perfect oil to rid yourself of bitterness, again it’s a band-aid for your emotions.
All the gurus in the health profession world give a lot of solid advice. Things like: let it go, give thanks in all circumstances, forgive the person, be empathetic, be kind.
While this is excellent & sound counsel- the truth is if you do not get to the root you cannot remove the fruit. Notice much of the advice is in the imperative and woefully missing the how to let it go, how can I give thanks when my heart hurts, HOW can I be empathetic? Rather we are told, just do it.
In order to deal with bitterness and the roots you must first know whether or not this applies to you.
Let's have a look:
WAYS TO KNOW IF YOU HAVE SEEDS & ROOTS OF BITTERNESS
We call this fruit of bitterness. Write these down and see if they resonate with you.
You have imaginary conversations in your mind with someone.
We're all familiar with the unending chatter, or clamor, that takes place in our minds when we're bitter towards someone. We rehearse what we want to say to them or what we wish we would have said to them. If I'm having imaginary conversations like this, it's a sign that I have some bitter seeds.
You feel the need to slander or attack someone’s character to other people.
Slandering someone who's hurt us can make us feel validated. We can be quick to go to friends and tell them about situations in hopes they'll tell us we are right in our feelings. This is a red flag that I'm holding on to bitterness.
You replay a conversation or experience over and over in your mind.
Whether it's a conversation or an experience, you make something that's in the past come into the present every time you replay it in your mind. Jesus came to redeem our pasts, even the parts that are not a result of our sin. However, when we relive them, we're not allowing Him to do that.
You're happy when someone else fails.
This is a tough one because on the outside saying you hope someone fails is a dark statement. Yet when someone you feel bitter towards faces some type of hardship silently rejoicing or smirking at their expense shows that one is harboring bitterness. Celebrating someone’s misfortune is straight up malice.
*You feel anger every time you hear a particular person's name
We've probably all experienced our muscles tighten and teeth clench when we hear certain people's names. Although that is expected when we've been hurt in a substantial way, it is a sign that we have not fully forgiven the person. Or, the situation. We can be bitter at a situation, which really, ends up that we are likely bitter towards God because after all, isn’t He the one who is sovereign and allows all things to happen?
You're not yourself around a person.
When we're bitter towards a person it's hard to behave towards them as we normally would. This is an obvious sign of bitterness yet again, most people don’t think themselves bitter. Only when holding up a blatantly obvious mirror can someone see truth. We're not friendly or don't engage them in conversation. Not only does this let you know that you're bitter, but the other person knows it as well.
You complain often.
The first sign that a person is bitter is complaining. Those who are bitter towards God will most likely complain about their circumstances. Complaining is a sure fire way to tell if you are bitter.
If the above list sent off an internal alarm even only once, you my friend, have a bitter situation to deal with.
Now you will want to go back to a time before the emotion of bitterness was found in you. This is when I pull out my essential oils, journal and pen. The journal doesn't need to be fancy, only a place to hammer out thoughts and revelations.
Was it an event?
A season of time?
When was the exact moment the seed was planted?
Breathe in your essential oils, the three I mentioned above, or whatever you find that helps open up long lost memories and sit for a few minutes- waiting for the answer to rise to the surface.
Once you have the memory, you are now well equipped to tackle it head on. Write out all the emotions surrounding it, why did you feel bitter, was is warranted. Once you have thoroughly exhausted yourself in writing and journaling your thoughts and emotions, stop. Take another drop or two of oils, breathing them in to clear your mind and begin to be open to releasing the bitterness.
Now, ask yourself, "Am I ready and willing to forgive?" If not, that is perfectly acceptable. God has all of eternity, but I will caution you- you do not have all of eternity on this earth. Our time here is a blip and we have got work to do. I wasted seventeen years allowing one stupid comment to cloud how I viewed an entire group of people and the state they came from! What an epic waste of time. If you are sitting on unforgiveness after breathing in your oils, after you have written out all you need to say, then seek the Lord and ask Him to help you be willing to forgive. Ask Him to remove the sting of the event/words/person etc, to pour in His healing oil and bind up your broken heart. You do not need to be the one to do all the healing, you only need to be willing to give Him something to work with.
Lastly, once you forgive, bless. Bless them, go back in your mind's eye, in your memory and bless them with every spiritual blessing you have received from our God. Change the trajectory of not only your life but theirs as well. Bless their businesses, their children, their health, and then turn around and bless your own health, your mind, your calling and whatever else comes to mind.
Release the bitterness forever from your soul and body. You will find that once you do so, breathing becomes easier, life looks brighter and your full and wonderful future, will be calling you into it quicker than you ever imagined.
UPDATE- We taught a class on this so if you are a more auditory learner, please see the video posted below.