“See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.”
Allow me to say something obvious: Oh, how bitter is bitterness!
How many times have we held onto our anger only to find that it somehow went underground and shot up as a new and terrible plant with a life of its own?
When we hold onto anything negative for too long, it becomes bitterness. Anger, jealousy, hate, rage, pain, fear, shame, betrayal—any of these things can turn into bitterness in the dark places of our souls if we do not bring them out into the light, ask for God’s forgiveness for holding onto them so long, and ask for His healing touch.
Who are you defiling with your bitterness? That’s not a happy thought. When my husband and I were first married, I aimed all my bitter, unfulfilled expectations in his direction, and it almost ruined us. The poor guy didn’t know what hit him. Everything that my abuser had done, I expected my husband to avoid. Everything my abuser had failed to do for me, I expected my husband to accomplish. He could do nothing right, but he could sure mess up at a moment’s notice. My bitterness was defiling our marriage fast. Three years into our marriage, I finally remembered the abuse and admitted that it had happened. I told my husband and instantly expected him to change. Now he had the knowledge to avoid hitting the wound. He had the information he needed to fill in all the childhood needs I was lacking. Well, you can guess how well that went, and you would be right.
It is awfully easy for us women to be bitter toward all men for their stupidity, violence, drives, lusts, power plays, and even insensitivity. We put all men into the same category and disrespect them all. One day in college when I was pouring out my bile about men to my boyfriend, he said to me, “You better never walk down an aisle with a white dress on if you feel that way!” That brought me up short because he was the one I wanted to walk down the aisle with! (And I eventually did, lucky him!)
Today I really am happily married to the same man. And we give each other volumes of grace. He does not dredge up my insufficiencies, and I try not to harp on his. For the most part, we allow each other to be the imperfect people that we are because God’s grace is actively filling in the gaps. I try not to expect from him what only God can give me.
What are you holding onto that is fermenting in the dark? And whom are you currently defiling with your bitterness? Those are terrible questions to ask, but worse is the trouble and defilement the bitterness can cause. Discuss these things with God and obey His direction.
This a page from the book When God Roared. Each page will be published, one per day, on this website. We pray that God uses it mightily in your life to swaddle you in His love and heal your precious heart.