Relationships with other people can be one of the most rewarding, yet most painful, things that we experience. Our connections to other people come with a lot of risk, because once we let others into our hearts, they can either choose to bless us or to curse us. When we build close friendships with people who love us well, it can be the best feeling in the world. However, when we are betrayed, it makes our hearts sick. Yet there is power in forgiveness. Am I a slave to bitterness? Let’s talk about it.
What Do I Do When My Heart Hurts?
Today I want to give you hope if you’ve been hurt by somebody close to you. The pain of betrayal can cut deep, and once it reaches that deep place, it can take root and grow things that you never wanted to see. Every time you are hurt, you are offered two invitations. The first is an invitation into a life marked by bitterness. The second is an invitation to more freedom than you had before you were hurt. Isn’t that incredible? I want to paint a picture of these two very different lives created by the two choices you have every time you are hurt by someone.
How to Let Go of Bitterness
Before I begin encouraging you to choose freedom instead of bitterness, I want to assure you that my money is where my mouth is. I don’t intend to simply talk about something that I haven’t lived out. I’m inviting you into freedom because I have experienced that freedom myself. I have been hurt deeply in ways that have challenged my very identity. I have been lied to, ignored, cursed, and used by the people I thought I could trust. These include people from my church, close friends, and even my own family. I even watched my pastor betray his own wife and our whole church in the process. I have had plenty of opportunities to let bitterness plant itself in those wounds, and I’ll be the first to admit that this seems like the easiest option.
Cycle of Bitterness
During the times when I had to make that important choice – to accept the invitation to bitterness or to freedom – I decided to observe the people around me. I was wondering “Am I a slave to bitterness?” I noticed that many people in my life had chosen bitterness when they had been hurt. It seemed to comfort them, but it also seemed to limit them. Bitterness became a bossy friend in their lives. They no longer tried new things, allowed themselves to be honest with their close ones, or sought true personal growth. They had a difficult time seeing the good things in their lives, and instead noticed a lot more of the bad things. Finally, their bitterness actually led them to unintentionally hurt people they cared about. Ironically, they became part of a cycle of bitterness. They began passing it along to other people, when they only thought it was going to affect them.
I saw the fruit of bitterness in these people’s lives, and I decided that I wanted a better life than that. I knew that it was my choice, but I still had to discover what the other option was. If I didn’t hold onto bitterness, then what could I hold onto? How could I keep myself from being hurt again if I chose not to be bitter?
Why Is Forgiveness Important?
The answer, of course, was forgiveness. Now, I did not want to forgive. I only wanted to have more freedom. My desire for freedom outweighed my resistance to forgiveness, and I finally gave in. I saw people in my life who were always going on adventures, always welcoming people into their hearts, and had flourishing relationships with Jesus and other people. I wanted to be like those people, not the bitter ones. People who forgave were able to live without fear. So m I a slave to bitterness? Let’s talk about it.
To experience your own relationship with Jesus, we invite you to watch the GREAT NEWS FOR YOU Video on this page.
Forgiveness was an overwhelming concept at first, but when I learned how to forgive, I mustered up the bravery and did it. To be honest, I was afraid of how painful forgiveness would be. But then I realized that if I didn’t forgive, I would live a fraction of that pain every single day for the rest of my life. Forgiveness, on the other hand, was a way to get past it once and for all. Now I don’t have to be afraid of rejection, grief, or betrayal. Those fears don’t have a hold over my life, so they don’t get to tell me what I can and can’t do.
It’s okay if you don’t want to forgive, but if you want more freedom, then you’ll be able to find forgiveness in you. It’s like surgery that heals a broken arm. Don’t you want to use that arm again, instead of living a fraction of the pain every day? Forgiveness is simpler than it might seem , and it is the key to the life that you’ve always wanted.