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This letter is part of a series of Sister Letters…you can read the heart behind these by clicking here.

Dear Sister,

It was not a pleasant thing to discover I had quite a generous streak of bitterness inside me. Nice Christian girls are not supposed to be bitter; they are supposed to be sweet as {the} pie {they bake}.

Sometimes it’s hard to detect the bitterness inside of you because it builds up over time. You usually notice it all of a sudden in an unpleasant way. Kind of like those five pounds that build slowly between Halloween and the end of the year that are just “there” until you go to put on your sexy jeans for a New Year’s Eve party and discover the new muffin top you’ve acquired.

Bitterness and anger go together. Bitterness is when you pour the vinegar on top of the baking soda and anger is the foamy, messy eruption that results.

A lot of the time, it’s hard to recognize or detect bitterness because we wallow in it and it becomes part of our reality, part of our personality. It oozes out in the form of excessive sarcasm, constant trash-talking, onerous doses of complaining, sullen silence, and the overall malaise or malcontent that comes with a passive aggressive hatred of the world and everyone and everything in it.

When I discovered I was prone to bitterness and anger, I decided I didn’t want to be either anymore. I’ve thought about this quite a bit and I’ve decided bitterness stems from three main things: pride, un-forgiveness, and entitlement. If those are the causes, then I would venture to say the antidotes are humility, forgiveness, and thankfulness.

On pride & humility - I know us women like to think we are always right, but the reality is, we are not. Most of us also have major control issues. It’s never easy to suck it up and admit we are wrong, but if we are overly sensitive or resistant to this, there is a larger issue at play. A wise friend of mine once said that pride is a complex manifestation of bad self-esteem. This would explain the ever popular inferiority-superiority complex.

The next time you find yourself puffing up arrogantly about an issue or the work of another, pause and take an honest look at yourself and where you are with all of it and try to see the plain truth instead of coloring everything with your own perspective. Scripture tells us to remove the plank from our own eyes before we try to remove the speck from someone else’s eye.

If you are having a conflict with a person, talk to them peacefully to determine the problem and try to resolve it. Know the difference between a difference in opinion and a critical need for resolution. Even if someone does not agree with you, have the respect and honor for them to allow them their viewpoint and the self-preservation to let it go.

On un-forgiveness and forgiveness – my pastor in California once said that un-forgiveness is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die. It will slowly fester and kill your soul and your hope from the inside out, while doing very little damage to the object of your wrath. I have seen this first-hand in my own family and within myself. Search your heart and be honest about any grudges you are still holding and then resolve to release them. If it’s something really intense, you may want to enlist the help of a counselor.

On entitlement & thankfulness – as a whole, we are a very privileged group of people. Sometimes, a very privileged group of people that does not acknowledge what we have but rather focuses on what we think we still want. More often than not, we always feel we are entitled to more – without wanting to work for it or change our own behavior.

Instead of being thankful we have a job, we want raises and accolades because we’ve been somewhere for awhile even though we do mediocre work and don’t go the extra mile.  We feel the world should treat us with kindness and respect, even when we are rude and taciturn to the world.

I promise your life will change in immense ways if you start sincerely giving thanks for what you have and all that is around you instead of focusing on what the world {and God} owes you. You might be rather rusty as I was, and need practice. Start small – simply write down three things a day you are thankful for. The more you do it, the easier it will get.

One very important last thing – every time you feel bitter or angry…each time you notice pride, un-forgiveness, and entitlement rearing their ugly little heads, pray. Ask for new perspectives and a change of heart to foster humility, forgiveness, and thankfulness in your life. Not only will your prayer life improve dramatically, you will also find the presence of someone much bigger than you helping you along.

I hope my observations have been helpful today. You are beautiful, precious, and loved – with much to offer the world. Don’t let the shackles of bitterness and anger keep you from experiencing a joyful life; don’t let it keep you from achieving the fullness of your purpose in your time here on earth.

Love,

Sindy

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