I’m learning something new on this road to forgiveness: Bitterness is a giant stumbling block, a fallen redwood lying across my pathway. It’s too thick to go over, too long to go around. I’ve got to face it head-on.
I listened to a devotion by Angela Thomas of LifeWay Ministries yesterday as I ran errands in my minivan. She said bitterness locks us in a prison and we cannot be freed from it by anyone else. We must grasp hold of the key to free ourselves.
Motherless Daughters have many reasons to be bitter:
My mom was killed in a car crash when I was 15 years old.
My mother abandoned me when I was an infant. I was raised by my grandparents.
My mother was addicted to crack and left me alone for days at a time until I was taken into foster care.
I watched my mother, who I adored, suffer with cancer for two long years before she died.
Life is not easy. It is not fair. Every woman has a story of the difficulty she has experienced, and some stories are so tragic I often wonder how she is still able to stand. But Jesus said, “In this life, you will have trouble.” (John 16:33) It should come as no surprise to us when trouble comes to our door. But it does. And it is easy to become bitter when all this trouble feels like too much.
We hold tightly in our fists the wrongs that have happened to us, the things that have been done to us, the hurts we have endured. And while we white-knuckle cling to these things, we cannot pick up the key to release ourselves from the prison of bitterness in which we are held captive. We can become what we never wanted to be, what God never intended for us: “Another [who] dies in bitterness of soul, never having enjoyed anything good.” (Job 21:25)
I don’t want to waste my life. I want to walk freely in this life I was given, to be used mightily by my God. And He is teaching me how to do that. He is teaching me that by being brave enough to open our fists, we can grab the key, release ourselves, grasp the cell door, and walk in freedom. This is the life Jesus intended. “In this life you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33, emphasis added)
It is ironic that the things we wish to avoid, the things we want removed from our lives, are the things we grasp so tightly in our fists. Do we want to walk in freedom and victory? Do we have the courage—the trust in our Lord–to ask him to teach us to let go and pick up the key to release ourselves from bitterness?