Wednesday, January 20, 2010


This morning started out as most mornings to... early. Not as early as most, as I gave myself a few extra minutes of sleep due to being awake off an on during the night. As I kissed my sweet husband goodbye as he headed out the door, I was just beginning to fully wake up. Clad in my flannel robe and warm fleecy house shoes and clutching my morning coffee, I spent my first waking minutes in God's Word. I am still working through the wonderful Bible Study, Ruth: The Message of Redemption and Revival, by Nancy Leigh Demoss.

I flipped open my study guide, found my place and realized that today was a video segment day. "Oh, good" I thought. My wakefulness during the night combined with the fact that I was only on my first cup of coffee meant I was inwardly glad I could just "sit and watch" this morning. I flipped open my Bible, read the scripture passage, prayed inwardly for God to please, please teach me today, then settled in for her video lecture.

Today's topic: Resentment.

In the story of Ruth, when Ruth and her mother-in-law Naomi return to Naomi's native land after 10 years away, Naomi announces to all who thought they recognized her "Do not call me Naomi" (which means pleasant"). "Call me Mara" (which means "bitter").

As I watched and took notes on Ms. Demoss's teaching this morning I realized the degree to which I have harbored bitterness in my heart over some things... specifically toward certain people. In fact, I know I have shared with others that that is my struggle, and I've certainly discussed it with the Lord. I have taken what I thought were steps toward removing the bitterness, I've prayed and "forgiven" the people close to me who have wronged me... the ones I thought "caused" my bitterness. What else is there really to do? But, if I'm honest, it has still lingered.

Some questions we can ask ourselves if we want to see if we harbor any bitterness are these:
  • Is there anyone in my life that I have never fully forgiven?
  • Is there any person or circumstance in my life for which I have never thanked God?
Whoa. Did you see that second question? That was the kicker for me this morning!

I have, admittedly, been battling a few physical things over the past few years. Some of them are piddly, but they add up. I have made changes to my diet, begun working out, and acknowledged physical changes I need to make.

Naomi returned to her native land after having only been gone 10 years, and it was hard for others to recognize her. I have run into people that I haven't seen in 10 years (or even more) and I totally recognize them. Ten years is a long time, but not really a long time. You know? Why did they not recognize her?


God never intended for our physical bodies to bear up under the weight of bitterness and unforgiveness. It will take its toll. So, I must ask myself: Is there a load of bitterness and unforgiveness to which my body is not responding well? Certainly not all physical problems are related to bitterness, but when I develop a physical symptom I would do well to go to the Lord and ask Him to reveal to me any unforgiveness and bitterness in my heart.

I have noticed in recent years that I don't respond to situations the way I used to. Things get "under my skin" more than in my 20's and 30's. I thought the opposite was supposed to be the case! I thought I was supposed to "mellow with age!" What is up with that? As I learned today, my emotional stability is impacted by bitterness as well. Chronic emotional disorders can be rooted in bitterness.

As I closed my study guide and Bible, finished my quiet time and put them back away, I headed through the kitchen. I got things in order to begin our day, kissed my "early riser" Ethiopian son good morning as he padded, bleary-eyed into the kitchen. I looked over our schedule and made mental steps through our day. I straightened something on the coffee table and watered a plant. I took a few moments to set some of our school papers in order. I turned on lamps and lit my favorite candle, readying the family room for our morning. I preheated the oven for the breakfast. It was only after I had been going through my morning "routine" that I happened to glance out the window on the back door and noticed the thick, thick fog. I almost couldn't see to the back of the yard!

It occurred to me that that's how bitterness can be. I can think things are "normal." I can function in what I perceive as clarity. All the while the cloud of bitterness can descend around me. Inside my home, things seemed "clear" this morning. I could see my way around. But if I were to leave my home this morning, even navigating the familiar streets surrounding my home would be a challenge! Bitterness clouds how I interact with others, how I navigate relationships. Naomi announced to those who would've perhaps been glad to see her and welcome her home, "Don't call me Pleasant! Call me Bitter!" A bit off-putting, to say the least.

I would encourage you, as I have been encouraging myself, to look for any hidden roots of bitterness in your heart. Ask those two important questions above. Get to the root of any unforgiveness and with God's help, get it out. Soon I'll share more about what I'm learning about forgiveness and some specific, practical steps to deal with any hidden unforgiveness and bitterness.

See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that
no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.
Hebrews 12:15


Much Ado said...

Very challenging, thought provoking post. And this question challenged me "Is there any person or circumstance in my life for which I have never thanked God?" so much. Thanks for posting this.

Kristi said...

Thanks for the encouragement today...very thought provoking. I do not ever want to be so bitter about anything that people no longer recognize me!

Daisy said...

I just "happen" to visit your blog today...I went on FB for a quick check and to catch a glimpse of who was online...saw your name and thought, "I haven't checked her blog in a while." So here I am....hmmmmm, don't know what to think right now. Things have been cropping up (again)from events of the past (which you generally know about!), and I wonder if there is any resentment still...I'm guessing it's a process. Must be the Lord's timing that I visited your blog today. Thank you for your openness!

Daisy said...

p.s. Time to pray and seek the Lord on this.....

Tiffany said...

What great thoughts, and a great post. It has given me much to think over. I think we all struggle in this area to some extent. God is so good and merciful to us, as we keep working through it. Thanks for sharing!

Jill said...

Thank you Cyndi for a great post. You said some words I also needed to hear. "Have I thanked the Lord on this?"

Linda said...

Thank you for sharing this Cyndi. I find that when I think I have a particular area all taken care of, the Lord gently points to the very things I've been missing.
I am able to forgive easily and don't think I ever really hold a grudge, but we have a situation in our family that I know has caused some bitterness in my heart. I know that I need to be forgiving and understanding, but it is so hard. However, I also know that bitterness hurts the one who is bitter, while the other person is blissfully going on their way.
What you have learned is true. I need to truly forgive and give thanks.

kristinleighkelly said...

right on, sista, right on...

Cherie Hill said...

What a fantastic that pushes my faith that I profess to the edge. I find bitterness to be kind of like picking weeds...I usually go to the root and get it all...but there are times that I just get tired of picking and, okay I confess, I just pick the top part that you can see. I think, "Besides, no one will see what's underneath...maybe when the weed starts coming back up I won't be as tired then...I'll get to it next time." Hmmmm...not a good idea...with weeds or bitterness. ;)
Thank you for this was a blessing.
God bless you greatly!