Show me a man with a broken spirit and I’ll show you a man who is eaten up with bitterness.
If there’s one thing that saps a person’s strength more than anything else, it’s bitterness. As long as we walk this earth, we’re going to be offended, blindsided, betrayed, wounded. It’s common notion that everyone hurts. We are united not so much by our joys, but by our sorrows. And life is not life without them.
The problem with bitterness is that once it takes root in us, it becomes very difficult to be released from it. And it eats us from the inside out. We fail to see the beauty of the other things around, preferring to dwell in our misery. Bitterness is also something we want to nurse. We WANT to have a reason to be angry, to rant, to hate the person who caused us so much grief. We WANT to resent the situation the person put us in. We WANT to believe that everything looks dark because of them. We WANT bitterness, period.
But guess what?
The ironic thing is, while you are tossing and turning in bed at night in your heartache, the person who hurt you is probably having a good night’s sleep.
So ask yourself, who’s the one suffering then?
Me, yes, me.
And the only way I’ll ever be able to be free from it is this – forgive.
I know what many people say about forgiving and forgetting. To be honest, I find it very difficult to completely forget the hurt done. For me, forgiving and forgetting are on opposite sides of the coin. You can’t have one without losing the sight of the other. To forget would mean it never mattered to me and forgetting would mean I would make the same mistakes. I wouldn’t want to forget because that would mean I would do it all over again. To forgive would be me being able to remember, but I don’t feel the pang of resentment anymore. Which is why I cannot fathom how God can both forgive and remember our sins no more. But that’s another story altogether. =)
We could hang to our bitterness. It’ll be so easy.
Hating someone is always easier than letting go. But where would that lead us?
A story is told that Leonardo da Vinci painted ‘The Lord’s Supper’ when living in Milan. Before he could paint the thirteen figures, it was necessary to find men who could serve as models. Each model had to have a face that expressed da Vinci’s vision of the particular man he would represent. Needless to say, this proved to be a tedious task – to find just the right face.
One Sunday, as da Vinci was at the cathedral for mass, he saw a young man in the choir who looked like da Vinci’s idea of how Jesus must have looked. He had the features of love, tenderness, caring, innocence, compassion, and kindness. Arrangements were made for the young man, Pietri Bandinelli, to sit as the model for the Lord.
Years went by, and the painting was still not complete. Da Vinci could not find just the right face for Judas. He was looking for a man whose face was streaked with despair, wickedness, greed, bitterness and sin.
Ten years later after starting the picture, he found a man in prison whose face wore all the qualities of Judas for which he had been searching. Consent was given for the prisoner to pose, and he sat as the model for Judas. Leonardo worked feverishly for days. But as the work went on, he noticed certain changes taking place in the prisoner. His face seemed filled with tension and his bloodshot eyes were filled with horror as he gaped at the likeness of himself painted on the canvas.
One day, Leonardo sensed the man’s uneasiness so greatly that he stopped painting and asked, “What seems to trouble you so much?” The man buried his face in his hands and was convulsed with sobs. After a long time, he raised his head and inquired, “Don’t you remember me? Years ago I was your model for the Lord Jesus”.
Bitterness is the root of the downfall of men. As the saying goes, a wounded tiger is the most dangerous. A hurting heart is the most vindictive.
I choose not to be bitter.
In Forrest Gump, Forrest's friend Jenny had endured a childhood of abuse and neglect at the hands of her father. In one scene, Forrest and Jenny visit her old house, and Forrest watches as Jenny throws stone after stone at the weather-beaten old house which held so many painful memories for her. When Jenny finally quits throwing rocks and began to cry, Forrest said, "Sometimes there just aren't enough rocks."
There just aren’t enough rocks to fling at the person who has hurt us. But even more so, there just aren’t enough rocks to hurl at ourselves. Morrie from Tuesdays with Morrie says, ‘Forgive everyone everything now. Not everyone has the chance to wait’. He wasn’t only talking about the other person. He also meant our own selves.
We... need to forgive ourselves... For all the things we didn't do. All the things we should have done. You can't get stuck on the regrets of what should have happened. ~Tuesdays with Morrie~
At the end of the day, when everything is over, why should I still be bitter? Why should I let it kill me inside? Why should I still hurt?
And so, I’ll forgive you.
But more importantly, I’ll forgive myself.