Bitterness and Obedience

The books of Matthew and Luke both talk about our behavior as it relates to those who treat us poorly:

 Matthew 5: 44-45 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

 Luke 6:28     Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.

    What comes as not a surprise to me but something that I have a question about is how to rid myself of bitterness, anger, and resentment against those that I’m loving and praying for. I’m hopeful that if I keep doing what I’m supposed to be doing—loving and praying and blessing—that eventually I won’t feel the bitterness, anger, and resentment. The more time goes by and the less those feelings fade, the weaker my hope becomes.

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    Trouble is, if I’m hating the person I’m praying for God knows it and I feel guilty. My prayer is tainted with insincerity. I don’t really want the person to be blessed. I want them to die and go away. I want God to smite them with His righteous wrath, hit them with a lightning bolt or something epic.

    The quote goes “bitterness is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” This doesn’t sound like too bad an idea, really. Eventually, either I’ll die from the poison or the other person will die of something else. One way or another I’ll be rid of the feelings that threaten to eat away my heart and poison my soul.

    I grow weary of people who spend their time proclaiming what worries them, what they don’t like, what they don’t understand and then they walk away without offering something toward a solution. I pray for these people, too. So rather than be one of those people, I confess my answer is I don’t yet have an answer. All I can offer is a plan of action—to be obedient, give the question to God, and focus on activities outside of the resentment-anger-bitterness-filled environment. Hope or no hope, whether the feelings go away or not, I choose to serve God by being obedient.

    That sounds so churchy, and so not-an-answer. It is true, however, and that is all I can put forth. Other people may have tips and techniques and acronyms that are supposed to help. I pray for the tips and techniques people, too, but I don’t buy their books or go to their churches.

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One response to “Bitterness and Obedience

  1. Laura

    Kathy,
    I am sorry about your job loss. I lost my job too and can relate to a lot of what you had to say. My work was very important to me too. I have all these feelings of sadness, rejection, loss, anger, fear. I appreciate your honesty about your anger about your former co-workers. I like reading the Psalms, which do a good job of capturing all emotions, including the anger emotions.
    I wish that God will in his justice let them understand the full impact of what they have done. I need to let go, trust that God is a just God and is doing what is just, even if I can’t see it happening, they are, will be getting treated justly and mercifully by God.
    I do believe that often times good people who do good work are fired and unfairly scapegoated in the work place.
    When I think of people who have deeply hurt me, sometimes I think that I have no idea of all the life experiences that made them who they are, and perhaps then I would have more compassion for them. I also probably have hurt others in ways I am not aware, but I hope not as much. Also, that there is a reflection of some aspect of the Divine in everyone, including them. In praying for them, I ask God to grow that part or help me to see that part, so the other part is less harmful. People do cause a lot of unnecessary hurt in this world because they are hurting, living their own lives of quiet desperation.
    I think that our enemies are under God’s power and authority, and are always doing greater spiritual favors for us while they are simultanously delivering us a human blow.
    I pray every day to be obedient to God. Someone told me this week after a long time spent practicing this virtue that she believes obedience is not dominance and submission, but listening respectfully.
    I believe God is a loving God that has something better planned for me (and you) that he is currently implementing, that will come to fruition and be given as a gift from God in God’s perfect time. Staying obedient seems like an excellent way to stay on track with God’s plan. I try to be thankful to God for working out this plan even though I don’t know the specifics of it, and let God have control, that my past, present and future are all in a loving God’s hands. I also believe God is all powerful and can accomplish anything. I try to be thankful to God for these circumstances. I also saw something this week that said if you have God that is enough. I try my best to trust in a loving God.
    For me there I am noticing new blessings while being patient. Also, I learned no act of love is ever wasted. So for now, my work is to try to be loving in what I think, say and do. When I am being loving to others I usually feel better myself. I also see things more accurately, truthfully through a lense of love. I pray to be able to love God with all my heart, soul and mind.
    If I am honest with myself, it was my ego that felt good about my work being important, but most of what I did wasn’t truly important in God’s eyes. And with the passage of time is all lost work as far as the world is concerned. It was just my own ego’s illusion that this was really all that important to begin with. I am thankful for my present circumstances in helping me maximize the relationships in life that are truly important.
    I am glad you have art as a spiritual path, a vocational path that will bring you closer to God and an awesomer life.
    I assume that I am where I am today because that is where God wants me to be because God loves me, is doing great things for me (and you too) and it will all make sense as being good in the future.

    I really appreciate what you wrote and hope among these thoughts there are some that may also help you as well. All will be well for you.

    Laura

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