Don’t Let Bitterness Take Root
We all have unfair and unjust things happen to us, that’s a part of life. When we are hurt, we can choose to hold on to that pain and become bitter, or we can choose to let it go and trust God to make it up to us.
I heard somewhere that 70 percent of people today are angry about something. Imagine that! Seven out of every ten people you encounter today will be angry. And that’s not counting the people who pass you on the freeway!
People who harbor anger often don’t realize it, but they are poisoning their own lives. When we don’t forgive, we’re not hurting the other person. We’re not hurting the company that did us wrong. We’re not hurting God. We’re only hurting ourselves.
If you want to live your best life now, you must be quick to forgive. Learn to let go of the hurts and pains of the past. Don’t let bitterness take root in your life. Maybe something happened to you when you were younger, somebody mistreated you, somebody took advantage of you. Perhaps somebody cheated you out of a promotion or lied about you. Maybe a good friend betrayed you, and you have a good reason to be angry and bitter.
For your emotional and spiritual health, you must let that go. It doesn’t do any good to go around hating somebody. Nor does it make any sense to stay angry for what somebody’s already done to you. You can’t do anything about the past, but you can do something about the future. You might as well forgive and start trusting God to make it up to you.
The Scripture says, “Make sure that no root of bitterness shoots forth and causes trouble and many become contaminated by it.” ( Hebrews 12, 15). Notice, bitterness is described as a root. Think about that. You can’t see a root; it’s deep down under ground. But you can be sure of this: A bitter root will produce bitter fruit. If we have bitterness on the inside, it’s going to affect every area of our lives.
Many people attempt to bury the hurt and paint deep in their hearts or in their subconscious minds. They harbor unforgiveness and resentment, and then they wonder why they can’t really live in victory, why they can’t get along with other people, why they can’t be happy. They don’t realize it, but it’s because their own hearts are poisoned. The Gospel says, “Out of the heart flow the issues of life.” (Matthew 15, 19-20) In other words, if we have bitterness inside, it’s going to end up contaminating everything that comes out of us. It will contaminate our personalities and our attitudes, as well as how we treat other people.
A lot of people are trying to improve their lives by dealing with the external fruit. They are attempting to rectify their habits, bad attitudes, bad tempers, or negative and sour personalities. They’re dealing with the fruit of their lives, trying to change those things, and that is noble. But the truth is, unless they get to the root, they will never be able to change the fruit. Because as long as that bitter root is growing on the inside, that problem will persist and keep popping up time and again. You may be able to control your behavior for a while or keep a good attitude for a short period of time, but have you ever wondered why you can’t really get free? Why you can’t overcome that destructive habit?
You have to go deeper. You must discover why you are so angry, why you can’t get along with other people, why you are always so negative. If you’ll look deeply and get to the root, then you’ll be able to deal with the problem, overcome it, and truly begin to change.
Poisons of the Past
Ten years ago, I remember a young woman who was in my RCIA program, came to me for spiritual help. She had gotten married and for several years could not have a normal relationship with her husband. For some reason, she just couldn’t fully give herself to this man. She loved him, but she couldn’t stand for him to be close to her and to be intimate with her. As you can imagine, this problem was destroying their relationship.
She tried to change, but she couldn’t do it. She said, “God, what is wrong with me? Why do I act this way? Why can’t I be a normal wife?”
One day she had a dream, and it reminded her of something that had happen when she was a young girl. In this dream, she saw herself out at the lake swimming, and several young boys came over and sexually assaulted her. She was so angry and so filled with hatred toward those boys, she began to scream, “I hate you! I hate you! I’ll never let another man touch me as long as I live.”
When she awakened, she realized that she still had all that anger and hatred in her heart toward those boys. It was buried deep down inside, and it was affecting her relationship with her husband many years later. She knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but she recognized she had to deal with that unforgiveness, or she would never have a healthy relationship. She decided to release all that hurt and pain. She said, “God, You know it wasn’t right, you know what they did to me. But I’m not going to hold on to it any longer, I’m not going to allow the pain from the past to poison my present and my future. God, I forgive those boys right now.”
Interestingly, from that moment on, she was able to enjoy a healthy relationship with her husband. She couldn’t change by dealing with the fruit; she had to get down to the root. And once the bitter root was gone, she was able to break free from the past.
Certainly, you do not need to go back and relive every negative experience, recalling all the painful memories of the past. Not at all. But you should examine your heart to make sure you haven’t buried anger and unforgiveness on the inside. If you have area in your life where you are constantly struggling, trying to change but finding yourself unable to do so, you need to ask God to show you what’s keeping you from being free. Ask God to show you if you have any bitter roots that need to be dug up and extracted. If God brings something to light, be quick to deal with it. Be willing to change. Don’t let the poisons of the past continue to contaminate your life.