Is Bitterness Knocking At Your Door?

Bitterness.tiff

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Philippians 2:5-7

I think it is easy to become embittered when walking this rocky path of chronic illness.  I didn't realize how deep the bitterness can run in me until yesterday when it spontaneously spewed forth.  

Yesterday was another Chicago day as I met with my allergist after an hour plus journey into the city.

Chicago always impresses me.  Even though I commuted for 1o years into the loop, it still takes my breath away.  Usually, the magnificence of the scenery, the noise and the bustle of the city are things I enjoy seeing.

Stopped at a light, we waited for pedestrians to scurry across traffic.  I watched one particular group of younger women, laughing and walking, seemingly without a care in the world, and found these words coming out of my mouth.  (See how nicely I am able to avoid ownership of those words???)

"Just keep walking away.  Your turn is coming.  One day you will be old and unable to walk like that and you'll be crawling instead. You'll have your turn."

I hadn't realized just how envious I am of people who can simply get up and walk without paying attention to the act of walking itself. They don't have to think about it. 

"I remember how I was," I said to my son who drives me to appointments.  "When I used to skate, I didn't even think about my health. I wasn't grateful."

How I was longing for those days.

I think I ran the gamut of emotions in the course of a few minutes.  Envy, bitterness, sadness, regret.

This morning my personal devotional was about bitterness.  What a rude awakening it was to realize that I, who thought I had been winning the fight with bitterness, still had such a bitter core inside of me.

Today, I can feel its existence within me.  It wasn't a fleeting thing.  It's something that has taken root in my heart and must be ripped out - laid bare for what it is.

Oh, my dear readers, how I sometimes hate this revealing process that happens to us as God creates clean hearts within us.  I sometimes wish it was like a fairy tale with a fairy Godmother waving a magic wand over me and *poof* I'd be changed with no work on my part.

I'm learning that sometimes there are *poof* experiences and sometimes, it requires diligence on my part to guard against these things that creep into my life.  

Sometimes, they are things that have long dwelt in me as well.

So today, as I realize that there are more things I must choose to "put away," I am once again grateful to my challenges, my formidable teachers, as God continues to show me what lies deep within my heart.  

Would I prefer an easier way to learn?  

Of course.

I think each of us would. 

Yet, I know there would be bitterness in my life even without my challenges.  They have simply made it visible to me.  And now, now I can ask for God's help and wisdom in  eliminating these attitudes and putting on attitudes that are more loving, more Christ-like, more kind.

So, just as He became like us, I choose to become more like Him.

And letting go of bitterness is a step toward that goal.

Father God, Thank you for your lovingkindness.  Even though we walk a most difficult and challenging path, may this pathway illuminate the parts of ourselves that need to be conformed to Your image.  Forgive us when we stumble. Encourage us to keep on keeping on. Help us not get stuck in bitterness and envy, but continue to pursue becoming more and more like You each day.  Amen and amen.

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