I read a quote on a friend's facebook page the other day- "In life we have a choice- Bitter, or Better".... Boy that's the truth, huh? This is definitely something I work on daily- don't we all? Please tell me I'm not the only one! It's so easy to get caught up in the bitterness, being right, winning..... I think this issue hits every aspect of our lives. I mean, consider these examples:
Your husband comes home from work (late again) and announces that he's going out with friends and he might just be out all night and you better not give him a hard time about it. What is your response? Gut response is to give him a good piece of your mind, and then give him the cold shoulder for the rest of the day, week, maybe month.... But you have a choice- better or bitter. Maybe he's had a bad day at work, and needs to unwind, and even though he's not meaning to be a complete jack-you-know-what, he is. Guess what. You've done that too. Probably not those exact words, or scenario, but you've done your fair share of bating him too.
Your child has not done his chores again and you just stepped on a tack that was hiding on the floor that your son was supposed to clean up this morning. As blood spurts out of your foot what is your response? Gut response is to scream at him about how he never does what you tell him to do and how you're so sick of asking him. (ouch). Those words probably hurt significantly more than your foot does. I'm talking to myself here too. We're not perfect, and the next time you forget to take him to an activity, or do something for him that you said you would, remember the tack in your foot.
Your mother tells you that she isn't going to talk to you because she has chosen her boyfriend and his thoughts over her love for you. As you pick yourself up out of the puddle of tears she left you in, what is your reaction? Gut reaction is to tell her to stick it where the sun doesn't shine and that you hate her too. But the truth of the matter is, that your anger comes from your pain, and while you may never have a relationship with your mother, or the relationship you want, you have a choice. Bitter or better. Remember that through all the pain that is between the two of you, there's pain on both sides, and you will not both be here forever, so be sure of what you want to say and speak as if it were your last words to each other on the rare occasions that you have the privilege of speaking to her.
You lost a loved one in the 911 attacks, and now you hear they are putting a mosque up near Ground Zero. Through your frustration what is your reaction? Gut reaction is to fight down the pain of loss with anger and revenge, vowing to join with the radical church that is burning Korans on 9/11 and speak/think hate towards every muslim you meet. Bitter or Better. Jesus taught us so much more than this. Where there is pain there is anger. But we have to think about how we would feel about someone burning our religious doctrines, and how we do feel as our Christian heritage is snuffed out.
My point is, very often our gut reaction is not the reaction we would wish for in hind sight. And we make the choice every day to walk in the light or the darkness. It's hard sometimes. And it's painful sometimes. A lot of the time actually. But pent up anger and bitterness only hurt one person- you.
The Bible tells us to forgive. Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive our trespassers. Do you think it says this for the person we're forgiving? No! It is for us! I recently read an incredibleWhat's So Amazing About Grace? book called, "What's So Amazing about Grace?", by Phillip Yancey. He says something in there that really spoke to me. It is still speaking to me. "At last I understood: in the final analysis, forgiveness is an act of faith. By forgiving another, I am trusting that God is a better justice-maker than I am. By forgiving, I release my own right to get even and leave all issues of fairness for God to work out. I leave in God's hands the scales that must balance justice and mercy." He was speaking about times when we are faced with a situation where we must find a way to forgive someone who is not remorseful. You need to find a way to separate your forgiveness from their remorse. They are two separate issues. Deal with yours and let God deal with theirs.
Trust me.... it's a process. A daily process.
I'd like to know if you've had an experience with forgiveness that would encourage others. Post a comment below and let's lift each other up :)