How to Become Better, Not Bitter

Episode 9

How easy it seems to be for us to point the finger when things happen in life that we don’t like.  Or when a relationship goes awry, leaving brokenness and pain and chaos in its wake. And sometimes we point our fingers at someone else when something bad happens, even when we know in our heart-of-hearts that it was mostly our fault. Oh, friend, how useless and hurtful that is to all those involved.

So today I want to talk about how we can be proactive and move forward to avoid developing that horribly self-destructive characteristic of bitterness, and turn our approach to the situation 180*.

How to be better, not bitter

3 Things To Do To Become #betternotbitter

1 - It may sound counterintuitive, but it can help to understand that even good changes can involve mourning and grief. Our youngest daughter, Hope, is headed off to college soon, and you can bet that - as excited as I am for her - there will be plenty of grief in my heart as I give her a final hug on campus and turn to walk away.  Over the coming days, weeks, maybe even months, I'll be processing lots of emotions. This short summary is a good explanation of Dr. Elizabeth Kübler-Ross's 5 stages of grief and her subsequent addition of two other emotions.  Changes, both welcome and unwelcome, can be a veritable alphabet soup of feelings!

2 - “What if this painful breaking is part of a beautiful remaking?” ~ Lysa Teurkhurst  This question kind of blew my mind when I first heard it. But knowing how God works in Scripture; how He has promised to bring life to dry bones, restore that which was eaten by locusts, and make all things new...well, there is lots of Biblical back-up for that concept. It also brought to mind an ancient Japanese art form that I learned about a while back: Kintsugi pots. These are beautiful ceramic bowls or pieces of art that are intentionally broken. When they are glued back together, their cracks are highlighted in gold, emphasizing their brokenness. I'll let you finish the analogy in your own life.

kintsugi pots
Aren't these kintsugi SO beautiful!? A daily reminder that the cracks and brokenness in our lives are part of what makes US beautiful, too. Even in the midst of your painful transition, leave no room for bitterness to take root, friend!

3 - Bitterness happens as a result of two specific activities or actions: First of all, we focus on our disappointments in the past, remaining angry/frustrated/hurt that things weren’t as we wanted them. And second, we replay those tapes over and over and over… The antidote? Forgiveness. I love what Oprah Winfrey says about forgiveness:

Forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could have been any different, it's accepting the past for what it was, and using this moment and this time to help yourself move forward.

Notice, she doesn’t say giving up hope, just giving up hope that things that have already happened could have been different. And since we have yet to discover time travel, that IS a physical impossibility, friend.  So when we remain stuck on that useless hamster wheel, it's only natural that bitterness would take root and grow.

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So, do any of these concepts strike a chord with you?

  • Do you need to recognize the grief that sometimes accompanies a good change?
  • Or embrace the beautiful thing that may come out of your current pain?
  • Or seek help softening your heart to allow forgiveness to bring about healing?

Whichever it is, I hope you are encouraged to grab hold and use it to prevent you from getting on the treadmill of bitterness. Or get off of it!

And please pray for me as I wave my "baby" off to college and navigate yet another life transition.

With you on the journey!


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