Have you ever struggled with being bitter? I have. I think most of us have. I think it starts out with being hurt, but then it escalates. There’s a difference between hurting and being bitter. I’m not sure there’s an exact line you can draw and say, “if it’s been ____ days/weeks/months/years, you’re just being bitter,” but I am sure that bitterness is obvious. It may not be obvious to the bitter person, but it has a way of revealing itself to the rest of us. I have gone through being bitter, only to have someone who cares enough about me to tell me I needed to shape up.
My bitterness started with legitimate hurting. I had been hurt by something that I cared a great deal for and had placed an enormous amount of faith in: the church. It sucked. Pastors don’t go into ministry expecting to get chewed up and spit out. Professors do tell you that most people that go into ministry do not last, but they make it sound like its entirely the fault of the weak individual who falls out of ministry. They forget to tell you that there are probably people who “have made it” in ministry only to step all over the young pastors.
Coming out of a place of hurt, I actually found it therapeutic to read some blogs and follow some twitter accounts that reflected how I felt. These guys had been through what I had been through, to varying extents, and I identified with their pain. I guess it comforted me to know that I wasn’t the only one that had been there. I can’t say that it was overly helpful, though. Time passed, and I continued reading their posts and tweets, and I began to notice something. Every time I read something, it would put me back in the negative place I had been before. I would feel like the wound was fresh, the anger was justified, and I would stew over it for a while.
I made the decision to stop reading certain blogs, following certain tweeters, and I unsubscribed from some people’s Facebook feeds. I cannot get myself to delete most people from Facebook. I would feel too guilty. I think I’ve only ever unfriended two people ever, but they were definitely not friends, and they went out of their way to show it. Anyway, I cut off ties to negative people. I stopped feeding that part of my flesh. And you know what? I missed it at first. I would think about going to blogs just to see what was going on, but I would stop myself. As time went by, I stopped missing it. I don’t like being upset, anymore.
Who in your life is causing you to always think negatively? Who in your life is causing you to sin in your mind? Are you in a position that you could lovingly tell them to shape up, as one of my mentors did for me? If not, maybe it’s time, as the new year rolls in, to stop listening to that person. Stop reading their material. Start focusing on those things that build you up, draw you closer to God, and make you a better person.
Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”