Say good-bye to bitterness: how to get rid of it for good!
Bitterness can be kind of sneaky. It can be something that you even don’t realize you’ve let develop within yourself. However, bitterness DOES come to the surface at some point and usually causes much trouble and heartache!
Bitterness is one of those concepts that involve a combination of issues. We can define bitterness as a combination of anger, disappointment, and resentment.
You may have had someone tell you that you are bitter. Or you may have realized it yourself!
Either way, you don’t want to continue living with bitterness in your heart. There’s nothing good for you there. No, bitterness will actually cause destruction in your life.
The great news is that you can definitely say GOOD-BYE to bitterness! And you can get rid of it for good!
What are the causes of bitterness?
If you have deduced that you have bitterness in your heart, you may be asking how did this happen? The way bitterness starts is often a progression.
- First- you are offended or hurt or wounded by someone (or something).
- Second- you don’t forgive (or reconcile if applicable).
- Third- instead, you coddle and nurture (for lack of a better word) that hurt and pain that was caused, and the hurt just gets more magnified and deeper.
- Fourth- You keep up that negative cycle and anger, resentment, disappointment begin to grow and grow in your thoughts and heart. At that point, bitterness has taken root.
The progression to bitterness can be quick or it can take longer depending on the circumstance and how you process it. Either way, the CAUSE of bitterness is someone or something offending, hurting, or wounding us.
How does the Bible deal with bitterness?
The Bible speaks to bitterness in many places. One of the most notable is in Hebrews.
Hebrews 12:15 – “See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.”
Wow. See to it that you don’t allow bitterness to take root or what did it say will happen? It will grow up and cause trouble and defile….who? Just me? No. Bitterness will grow up and defile many. The “many” are usually people we love dearly.
Another verse that is notable is in Ephesians.
Ephesians 4:31-32– “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
That’s such a great verse to instruct us in how to handle difficult emotions. And how to relate to other people, including people who hurt us.
These Scripture passages will be useful as we unpack getting rid of bitterness for good!
What are the characteristics of a bitter person?
The characteristics of a bitter person are kind of like describing the symptoms of a sickness. If these descriptions sound like you, then you can know that yes, you have allowed bitterness to develop within you.
I know real wounds and pain have led to bitterness and that bitterness is not something that you made a willful choice about. It is sneaky as I said before. And often the first helpful step is recognizing if you are harboring bitterness.
So look at these and assess yourself knowing that there is good news! Bitterness IS something you can get rid of and it IS something you can stop. For now, evaluate if you have these characteristics of bitterness:
- You can remember the offense (or offenses) quite well because you have re-lived and re-played them several times.
- You feel angry, hurt, resentful, and disppointed when you think of the offender(s).
- You have strong, negative emotional reactions to things the offender does and says to you.
- You feel like these emotions consume your thoughts at times.
If this is you, let’s get to the practical steps we can take to say good-bye to bitterness for good!
Understand the world we live in!
Back in the very beginning, sin entered the world through Adam and Eve. At that point the world became fallen or broken. God sent his son Jesus at just the right time to come save us from our sins and when He comes the second time, He will make all things new.
At THAT point, there won’t be any more brokenness and heartache, sickness or tears!
The Bible says no one knows when Jesus will return and that means it could be in our lifetime or it could be later.
What we do know is that until then, we live in a world that is broken. The point I’m making is that we shouldn’t be surprised by all the messed up things around us.
People are going to fail us. We will get hurt and offended at times. We may even have great harm done to us. This is not because God has abandoned us or doesn’t love us completely. Those things can happen as we live in a world where sin and evil are present.
So don’t be shocked. Let’s learn how to deal with the fact that we live in a fallen world. We have an ever present help in trouble and a Prince of Peace!
When we learn how to navigate hurt and offenses, we can definitely avoid bitterness taking root in our hearts!
Learn how to tell when you’ve taken up offense!
Like I said earlier, bitterness can kind of sneak up on you if you aren’t aware of some key things. You must realize if you’ve been hurt or offended.
That may sound wierd because it’s not like you can be wounded without your knowledge, right?
What I mean is sometimes we can be hurt, but life is moving so fast and crazy that we don’t really acknowledge it. We can feel the pain, but kind of stuff it and roll on.
It’s actually a great idea to try to overlook offenses. (Proverbs 19:11– It is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.) But when it keeps coming back to mind over and over, you now need to deal with it.
Also worth mentioning is- not dealing with our wounds and becoming bitter can cause physical sickness in our lives. Just another reason to seek to get rid of all bitterness.
Some offenses CAN be overlooked and the way you know it is that you decide to just forgive and move on. And you actually do feel forgiving and you aren’t thinking of the offense anymore.
When an offense is coming up in your mind or conversations over and over, it usually means you need to deal with the hurt. You should not keep going on as normal at that point. Instead you should have a light bulb going off- “I need to deal with this or bitterness may try to creep in!”
Another way to tell if you’ve been offended to the point of needing to deal with it, is if you feel ill will towards the offender. This can be in your thoughts or if you see them and talk to them. You can be really emotionally charged after interaction with someone who has hurt you.
These are the points you should take notice of, for they lead to getting rid of bitterness in your life.
Stop the negative replay!
When someone hurts us, boy is it easy to just re-live and replay it over and over in our heads!
Guess what replaying the hurt does? It leads you right on the path to bitterness. Not what you want.
You may feel like you can’t help it and that the memories or thoughts just flood you without you meaning for them to. Well know that it’s very natural to dwell on that which hurts you.
What we need to do instead, is stop the negative replay!
How? Well, it is simply a willful choice on your part.
- You CHOOSE to stop going down negative memory lane.
- You choose to stop THINKING the negative thoughts.
- You choose to stop TALKING to others about it.
(Talking or rather, venting, to others about it only fuels the bitterness fire more! So this willful choice is super important for you to get.)
Back to our Scripture from Ephesians 4- “Get rid of all bitterness.” It’s a putting off of these angry, hurtful emotions.
Now, when we stop replaying all the hurt and negativity, we need to DO something in its place.
FORGIVE, FORGIVE, FORGIVE!
Talk about getting rid of bitterness- FORGIVENESS is the KEY!
You can’t control other people and therefore you can’t prevent any hurt or offenses in life. That doesn’t need to cause any alarm for you.
What you can do is recognize when you’ve been hurt, choose to stop the negative replay, and extend forgiveness!
Forgiveness is choosing to not hold the offender in your personal jail anymore. Forgiveness is placing them in God’s hands and not counting it against them anymore.
Now, I do know there are more challenging times of doing this than others. But that actually doesn’t matter! This is good news! You can choose to forgive ANYONE for ANYTHING.
And it leads to FREEDOM for your soul and FREEDOM from bitterness. In fact, bitterness literally cannot take root when you are choosing to forgive.
Please read the article below for step by step help in walking through forgiveness!
RELATED: HOW TO TRULY FORGIVE SOMEONE
CONCLUDING THOUGHTS ON SAYING GOOD-BYE TO BITTERNESS FOR GOOD…
Bitterness doesn’t have to take over and eat at you ever again. You can be completely free of bitterness no matter what has happened. Make it a rhythm of your life to recognize hurts, stop the negative replay, and extend forgiveness.
You will then be saying goodbye to bitterness and getting rid of bitterness for good!
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