Why is it easy to notice a common feeling of so many that are contemplating divorce; because many have the characteristics of a bitter person. A mate’s behavior is not dictating how a person feels, although he or she believes it is. Bitterness is a dictator, a most destructive and divisive force to which so many Christians suffer.
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:31, 32
I have a friend who, whenever he talks about his wife, turns red and begins to rant. Shakespeare said in one of the lines from his plays, “Dost thou protest too much.” You see, it is a dead giveaway when anger and bitterness explode at the mere mention of the other person or marriage itself. Bitterness is an attitude that grows until its roots are entangled throughout the person’s mind, will, and emotions. Now here is the rub; any attempt to remove this poisonous plant will be met with resistance through desire, intellectual arguments, and the sense of hopelessness. Know anyone like that? I think bitterness is an addiction. The bitterness acts as a soothing inner calm to a bitter person because they direct their own self-loathing at everything outside themselves in an out of control manner. They make others miserable with the perceived wrongs that they come up with.
If you are a believer and have emotional stress, you will either have an outer expression or and inner explosion (which normally converts to depression) and with the passing of time all is forgiven and forgotten. However, the bitter person will do neither of these. Anger and resentment will accumulate to a point of the persons’ accepting a lifestyle, a path allowing for the luxury of avoiding personal responsibility for the remainder of their life. Sound like a Narcissist? Well, bitter people can also be Narcissists and I suspect that most are.
Be careful before you assume that this is someone else’s problem. Christians are great at maintaining their bitterness under the guise of being extremely spiritual, at least in words. They begin to get people to feel sorry for them and to pity them. They get people to focus on them and praise them for their suffering and their resilience. Yet everyone that has disappointed them is covertly and sometimes overtly punished for their perceived failure. That is a sure sign that they are not to be pitied and it may be time to talk to the offended parties about the truth.
A word of warning: So many churches and church communities coddle the bitter and enable their behavior without knowing the facts. Be suspicious of anyone that is bitter because it is inevitably their problem and not the result of someone else. We as Christians are called to find out the truth so that we can repair relationships rather than enable an abuser to continue in their bad behavior.
Next week I will address the Bitterness Trap…Have a great week and if you are prone to blaming others for your depression or anger or bitterness….stop it!
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