Thursday, July 5, 2012

Dig Up the Root of Bitterness

While Michael and I were watching Part 5: Taking Out the Trash of Mark Driscoll's Real Marriage video series, I felt very convicted about my heart. While it's true that I have been down in a rut lately with feelings of hopelessness, the Lord also convicted me that my heart has been filled with bitterness towards certain people.

As I alluded to in the previous post, there have been a few people who have greatly hurt my feelings regarding our infertility. Whether it was intentional on their part or not, whether they are aware of the fact that they hurt my feelings or does not matter. Not in order for me to forgive or not.

This was my main holdup in my battle to forgive or not to forgive these people. "But God...they haven't even said they're sorry. In fact, some of them haven't even said a thing!"

Ephesians 4:31-32
31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.

Oy. You mean, I should forgive because Christ forgave me...not because they apologize? Oh. Ok. Hm...I hadn't wanted to think much about that.

Mark Driscoll went on to explain that by choosing not to forgive someone (definition of bitterness), that's like you saying that Christ's blood is insufficient. Golly Mark...way to punch me in the face! Or I guess maybe it was the Holy Spirit doing that, but I fully admit I deserved the punch.

He also explained that just because you choose to forgive someone does not necessarily mean that you should also seek to reconcile the relationship. This was something I had also been held up on...I was thinking that if I forgave these people, that would mean I would have to get over the hurt feelings and be their friend again, regularly see them again, and allow them into my life. I'm relieved to understand that this is not the case. He explained that repentance of bitterness (choosing forgiveness) requires one person. Reconciliation requires two people.

Another thing to remember is that forgiveness is not just a one-time deal. I chose on Saturday to forgive all of these people who have hurt me. But there will be (and already have been) moments that will trigger the hurt feelings again, tempting me to walk down the path of bitterness. So I will have to re-forgive. And re-forgive. And re-forgive. Possibly for a very long time. Probably until Michael and I are well past this trial. Practice makes perfect, right?

One very helpful exercise he suggested, especially in the case of the situation where the person who has offended you has never apologized, was to journal out your feelings. This allows you to experience a sense of closure that can allow you to move from bitterness to forgiveness.

Hebrews 12:15
See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled.

That's probably a good idea, so that my heart of bitterness doesn't continue to spread in my heart like a cancer, and then bleed over into Michael's heart, and so on until much destruction is caused.

So I chose to forgive these people. It may be hard to do, but it's so freeing if you can actually accomplish it. Choose forgiveness over bitterness, and let the healing begin. (And turn on Tenth Avenue North's Healing Begins song, just for good measure!)

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