Originally published Thursday, 17 July 2014.
Recently, God showed me that it's time to let go of bitterness against the church.
I didn't even know that I was harboring a bitter root until He showed me.
When I wrote about my identity crisis in the church here, I wrote that I am not looking for the perfect church. "I’m really not." I said, "I just want to find a place that feels like home. A place where I can freely worship, learn about Jesus, and connect with other believers."
So when a friend invited me to her church's women's group I went.
Why not? I'm giving all churches a try at this point.
When I got in the lobby, it was loud. I mean l-o-u-d. I couldn't hear anything anyone was saying. I was getting over a cold after vacationing in New York City, so I could barely squeak out a sound let alone shout over the crowd. I thought things would improve once we went into the sanctuary.
Then the light show happened.
They pretty much lost me once the lights started dancing, swirling, and making a mess in the auditorium. Or maybe -- that's because I felt like a giant mess inside. For the life of me, I couldn't get my mind to focus or calm down. I was so distracted.
In my heart I was asking questions like, "Is Jesus even here?" "Would He even approve of this light show?"
I left early.
When I got home I was so angry that I couldn't stop shaking. It was like the damn of my emotions broke. I broke. I was so tired of feeling left out of church, of not being invited to share the stage of ministry. I mean -- God called me to be an author and speaker. And then nothing. Crickets. I've written about this many times. Feeling like my dream died. "What kind of a God would stand back and watch a dream -- a good dream, for ministry and impact -- fall apart?" (Phil Vischer). I went to bed hoping things my mind would clear up in the morning. It didn't. The next morning, I opened up my Kindle App on my iPhone, and read these words from Experiencing God Day by Day.
"Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many" (Hebrews 12:14-15, NIV).
A trouble maker.
God was calling me out. That's what I am and have been in the past. It seems like whenever I go through a season of job, ministry, friend, or church transition -- my temptation is to bad mouth, gossip, slander, and say whatever it is I need to say to justify why I am moving on. It's never my fault, of course. It's always his or hers or theirs.
Wow. Ouch. Burn.
That's what a godly rebuke looks like my friends.
I'm laying it bare before you all because I am convicted.
I am disgusted.
I am embarrassed.
I immediately wrote a prayer of forgiveness in my journal after I read the passage in Hebrews. I'm just so glad God finally showed me why I was so angry.
I. Was. Bitter.
Bitter against lost opportunities in my ministry. Bitter that I felt like my books had been robbed or aborted. Then I read this verse from Isaiah 49:15 that comforted me.
“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!"
God does not forget. He remembers. He knows this past year of transition has been rough with medication, anxiety, publishing, and finding a church. That's a lot of transition!
He knows I'm hanging on by a thread. He knows, but He also doesn't want me to suffer more than I have too.
I don't want to be bitter. I want to walk in forgiveness and freedom. Even when those doors don't open in places I think they should or on my time table.
Then something amazing happened. I got an email from a MOPS group asking me to speak on the topic of forgiveness. Since Forgiving Others, Forgiving Me released last summer -- I haven't gotten one speaking request. Not one. Until now. Praise God. I am thrilled for 2 reasons:
- That God didn't allow me to go through with shutting down DevotionalDiva.com because that's how the MOPS co-leader found me.
- That God didn't allow me to take the speaking tab off ReneeFisher.com because I almost did this week when I was so mad.
I created a Top 10 Christian Speakers for Women's Events blog last Christmas on DevotionalDiva.com, and listed myself last in a list of 31 women. Interestingly enough, the leader told me that I am the only one currently speaking on the topic of forgiveness. That topic.
Forgiveness has been so hard to write about, and even harder to live.
How to forgive others who have hurt me, and how to forgive myself when I make stupid mistakes. That's my life story right there, and here I am learning it all over again. Praise God.
Praise God that He has not forgotten me!
Praise the God of second chances -- the God who makes all things new.
It's time to let go of my bitterness and leave it at the cross!
Question: Have you ever allowed bitterness to cause trouble in your life or in the lives of others? How did you let it go?