March 17, 2014
“You shall not be forgotten by Me. I have blotted out like a thick cloud your transgressions, and like a cloud your sins. Return to Me, for I have restored, renewed, and reclaimed you. Sing, O heavens, for the Lord has done it; shout you depths of the earth; break forth into singing, you mountains, O forest and every tree it! For the Lord has renewed you, and He will glorify Himself in you.”
Isaiah 44: 21-23
“How To Deal With Bitterness”
“Bitter with Myself” – Part VIII
“A person’s attitude toward (herself) has a profound influence on (her) attitude toward God, (her) family, (her) friends, (her) future, and many other significant areas of (her) life.”
Do I harbor a personal bitterness toward myself for some of the decisions I have made in my life?
How do my inner feelings of bitterness make me feel about my own self-worth?
“Though humility and acknowledgment of one’s real failings is good, the gratuitous eating of worms not put before us by God does not nourish our souls a bit – merely in fact, upsets the spiritual tummy.”
“The world is terribly apt to take people at their own valuation.”
Amelia B. Edwards
I was in the mountains a few days ago with my mom, sister, two nieces and the two little ones, 1 ½ -year-old Alton and 3 ½ -year-old Elise. It’s an annual female family tradition staying for a few days together in the basically one-room cabin my grandpa built over fifty years ago. It’s an experience, to put it mildly. On Wednesday, all of a sudden without warning, thunderheads blew in and we were treated to an Arizona monsoon storm that sent all of us running for cover. As I watched out the window from the “closet nook” that contained my bed, it was evident within a very few minutes that the clouds were blotting out everything – the blue sky and the sun. A thick covering completely changed how everything looked. However, as soon as the downpour was over, the clouds blew away to reveal a freshness and beauty, highlighted by the reflection of the sun on the water droplets that were left on the pine trees and rocks. It was a gorgeous thing to see. Even the air had a refreshing smell to it. Everything was renewed and revived.
This is what God promises us He does in our lives when He redeems us – we are revived, renewed, and restored. Like a cloud that passes through, He blots out the past and restores the future.
If you are wondering why this analogy is important as we finish our series on bitterness, it is because so often, what God has buried in our past we tend to dig up. What God has blotted out we get our own marking pen and try to rewrite. Especially when it comes to those areas of our lives that have left us angry and bitter. I know what I’m saying is true for I have way too frequently gotten out my shovel and used it to unearth something God buried long ago, and when we do this, it is at our own harm.
I can think of many times in my life when the mistakes I made were my fault. The errors in judgment and subsequent destructive consequences were mine alone. What did I do? I became angry with myself, bitter and hostile at my own behavior. And sadly, this thought process can frequently result in promoting a low self-worth. “I can’t do anything right! I blow it all the time! I can’t hold a job! I’m a failure at relationships! I’m a loser!” These and many more opinions come out of our mouths as self-directed hatred, which ends up becoming bitterness, if allowed to fulminate inside ourselves.
Part of the healing process heaven offers us is that we come to terms with the fact we have a responsibility for the decisions we make. One of God’s beautiful daughters, Madelene Gibson, who comes to the garden sent me a fabulous email which offered some heavenly insight into lessons she’s learned in her battle with bitterness.
She shared how after a divorce in 1976 she decided to remain single because she felt it best for her two young daughters. As she honestly admits she, “let the heartbreak of divorce turn me against a permanent relationship.” Madelene admitted that, “My heart was so soured with bitterness, not anyone could put up with me…bitterness was rooted deep in my spirit.”
Then Madelene tells of how wonderful it was when in 1988 she gave her heart to the Lord. And she further noted that in this transforming process God had some lessons for her. She began to think about the bitter people she knew. And she recognized, as I believe you and I will too, that often they weren’t just bitter with others as much as with themselves.
Sometimes we are bitter because of the responsibility we have had for our own part in a faulty situation.
Here’s how Madelene expressed her thoughts: “Bitter about a divorce? What role may you have had? Bitter about losing a job? What have you done to ensure your employability? Bitter about economics? What have you done to manage your money better?” While there are many events that happen to us in life, for which we may not have been “at fault” at all, there are also those, and I can attest to the truth of this fact, where we have to share the responsibility for some of the reckless results of flawed or rash decisions.
This is where, if we will own-up to the mistakes we have made and take our heartbreak to heaven’s Healer, we can be assured He will “blot out” that pain in our hearts. And what God buries, we have no right to dig up.
Instead, let us root out bitterness by embracing the love God bestows on us and accept His forgiveness which is His gift. As Hannah More so poignantly wrote, “Forgiveness is the economy of the heart…Forgiveness saves the expense of anger; the cost of hatred, and the waste of spirit.” Love and forgiveness of others, and of ourselves, will leave no fertile ground for bitterness to take root in.
“If you haven’t forgiven yourself something, how can you forgive others?”
“O God, fountain of love, pour Your love into our souls, that we may love all those whom You love with the love You give us.”
E. B. Pusey
Love is kind and suffers long,
Love is meek and thinks no wrong,
Love than death itself more strong;
Therefore give us love.
Faith will vanish into sight;
Hope be emptied in delight;
Love in heaven will shine more bright;
Therefore give us love.”
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
P. S. Brenda Marion, one of God’s Transformation Garden daughters sent me a note regarding a book by Nancy Veldman called “The Withered Leaves” written after her father’s death and the grief and bitterness she faced. This is a small passage from the book:
“I do not want to come to the end of my days and discover that all of the reasons that I had come up with to not believe had rendered me a barren tree on dry ground…with water only a stone’s throw away.”
You may wish to visit her website: www.magnoliahouse.com.
God bless you and come back on Monday when we arrive in Bethlehem and find out it’s “Harvest-Time!”
For more from Dorothy, please visit transformationgarden.com.