Sunday, August 05, 2012

Uprooting Bitterness

Yellow bitter weeds now bloom in pastures. Transplanted from Europe, they thrive in much of the United States. Because of an unpleasant aroma and taste, cows usually don’t nibble on the plants. However, if a cow has nothing else to eat and consumes the weed, her milk has a rank taste.

            One resource said insects have disagreeable reactions within 30 seconds after ingesting the noxious weeds. Toxic to sheep, farmers try to eliminate it from pastures. By experience or instinct, animals and insects learn to avoid the harmful wild plant. 

            People can also have unpleasant experiences with “bitter weed” friends. Although blessed, these close acquaintances choose to look at what goes wrong instead of counting blessings. To them, something is wrong with almost everything, so they whine, groan, and fault find, carping through morning, noon, and night. For them, noticing the good things in life is rare as an eclipse.

            After spending one hour with such a person, my attitude can warp and worsen too. Occasionally, I borrow their dark sunglasses, and the world gets gloomier. Unfortunately, bitterness is an attitude that roots easily and multiplies rapidly.

            Commercial herbicides will rid weeds from a pasture, but how does a spirit get rid of bitterness? Small irritants and larger evils occur in life, so Paul wrote to the Ephesian Christians telling them how to respond as children of light: 

            Paul’s said to put off your old self. Be made new in the attitude of your minds. Who helps us transform our minds? God does. He gives us new eyes to see what is beautiful and to practice thanksgiving in two ways: aloud and inwardly. Paul tells Christians don’t pillow your heads with anger in your hearts, because the bitterness bedbugs damage at such times. Before the sun sets or the moon rises, Paul said to be kind, compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you (paraphrase of Ephesians 4:20-32). 

            When bitterness settles in a soul, the devil can use that fissure to toss the tiniest seeds of other evils into that bedding, providing a marshy place where ills multiply. During a summer drought, the foundation to our house moved and cracked. Because the foundation weakened, other cracks appeared in sheetrock walls. Through all those cracks creepy-crawlies walked right in to make my home their home. 

            One day, I glimpsed a small lizard darting around the legs of the breakfast table. My grandchildren squealed as they watched me pest patrol and control. On hands and knees, with an empty plastic container and lid, I made several of my best lizard-catching moves for a capture. We placed the small reptile outdoors, the same place bitterness belongs – outside the human heart.  

Bitterness is really a pride issue: Why me? What have I done to deserve this? Why do bad things happen in my life? I deserve better. I don’t deserve to be ill or have trouble in my family. A wise person said, “Why not me? I’m no better than anyone else.”    To weed out disturbing bitterness, practice daily thanksgiving. Keep a piece of paper handy and jot down blessings as you encounter them. As your mind and heart move to different good scenes of the past and present, amazingly, light will crowd out the dark bitter spirit.

In a concentration camp where bitterness could have soared off the charts, Corrie ten Boon and her sister were thankful for lice infested barracks. Because of those pests, the male guards didn’t molest the already traumatized women. Look for the good in every pasture of bad times. Be on guard. Let bitterness reside only in dictionaries, not on the pages of souls.

Hunger for Humility (31):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” (Ephesians 4:31).


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