Recently, I have been thinking about bitterness. It doesn’t take long to become bitter about things that occur in our lives. All that is required for bitterness to take root is to avoid letting go of the situation that caused us pain. There is no one better to use as an example than me, so I will use me.
One day, shortly after my divorce was final, my parents and children were with me having lunch at Popeye’s Fried Chicken in Fountain, Colorado. There was many things going on in my life and the sudden changes caused me to give in to my anger. As I sat there in that restaurant, anger and bitterness was pummeling me. My dad watched me as I battled my emotions. Finally, he asked me a simple question: What are you mad about? For some unbeknownst reason, I stated that I was angry because I could not make my ex-wife love me. That somewhere along the way, the realization that I was not enough occurred to my ex-wife. My dad shook his head and sympathy showed in his eyes. Then he asked his next question. Who are you mad at? Angrily, I stated that I was mad at myself. Finally, he offered me this advice: “Son, bitterness will eat at you until there is nothing left. You must learn to let it go. If you can’t change what is happening, you should wash your hands of it.”
Ever since that day at Popeye’s, I have tried to follow this advice. Bitterness is akin to drinking poison. I often use my time in military to illustrate points, this time will be no different. White phosphorous also known as Willy Pete, burns at 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit. It is basically napalm in a hand grenade. When it explodes, if WP gets on a person, water will not put it out. There is only one way to deal with a phosphorus burn, you take your knife and cut it out. Many people have been disfigured due to the cutting required to remove the phosphorus. A knife is not a precision instrument; therefore, the scars never seem to heal right. The same thing applies to bitterness. The longer we hold on to the bitterness, the worse the disfigurement.
God is more than able to help us overcome our anger and bitterness; however, we must do our part. We must let go of the hurtful things that make us bitter. The Lord will not make us let go. He can provide us with deliverance, but we must accept it. Life is too short to be bitter.