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Wife, Mother, Pastor

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BITTERNESS PART 2- Dealing with ourselves

httpwww.someecards.comusercardsThe feeling that rises up within you when the person you tried recruiting for your ministry gave you the, “I’m not feeling The Lord say yes right now,” sit through all your services while you run the race of five people on a Sunday morning. It comes when a family that has left your church abruptly brags about their new church on Facebook.  It comes when a person that has extremely high expectations of you continues to place more pressure on your already loaded plate.  It comes when someone who you were so close to leaves the church and you never speak again.  We could sit and tell story after story of how people in our churches have hurt us.

bit·ter

/ˈbɪtər/ [bit-er]

adjective, bit·ter·er, bit·ter·est.

1. having a harsh, disagreeably acrid taste, like that of aspirin, quinine, wormwood, or aloes.
2. producing one of the four basic taste sensations; not sour, sweet, or salt.
3. hard to bear; grievous; distressful: a bitter sorrow.
4. causing pain; piercing; stinging: a bitter chill.
5. characterized by intense antagonism or hostility: bitter hatred.

Bitterness- to have bitter anger, ill-will, or harsh unpleasentment.

Let’s just be blunt- allowing bitterness to take root into our lives is dangerous and destructive; not just to ourselves, but to the community of believers we serve.  Hebrews 12:15 says-

“See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.”

When we are bitter it doesn’t just affect you, it affects everyone.  When we’re bitter, it makes us feel as if we are in control of the other person, but in reality, it controls us and allows us to upset the ‘whole applecart’.   Many will be defiled by your bitterness.  It steels your joy and peace, it makes it almost impossible to live in harmony among those you serve, and it hinders your relationship with the Lord which in turn hinders your leadership to those whom you serve. To be honest I’m still trying to navigate through these emotions. It seems to come up on a daily basis. And really, if this isn’t something you struggle with, then you’re in denial (that or you’re really spiritual and more mature than the rest of us- to this I say, Kudos).  I find it easier to deal with those who are bitter with me, than those I’m bitter with.  Those that are bitter with me- it’s their call, it’s their problem.  I have no control so it’s all on them.  However, when it’s me who is bitter, it’s my call, it’s my problem and it’s all on me.  I have to choose to control my bitterness, but how?

LOVE– ugh. I have a love/hate relationship with love.  It hurts just as much as it feels good. How do you love the people you are bitter with?  Because, again, let’s be honest- if you want to live in harmony with ALL people, if you want God’s anointing to move through you, then we must not allow bitterness to take root in us.  We must rid and destroy it.  When we love, God can come in and soften our hearts.

We love by FORGIVING– “Thank you Mrs. Obvious. Isn’t that the point of Christianity?”  Hear me out.  Forgiving doesn’t always mean forgetting.  I’ve had to remind myself, “I gave that to the Lord, it is His issue now, not mine.”  Someone pointed out to me that just like love, you have to walk out forgiveness.  Bitterness and unforgiveness are cousins. You have to continually choose forgiveness, in order to release that bitterness.  Just because you forgive, doesn’t mean the feelings go away.  There are times that they do, but not always.  It’s like the onion analogy; sometimes the layers need to be peeled away one at a time.  Each layer softens us a little; some people just take more layers.  Maybe we need to keep on forgiving.  Are you taking back from the Lord what you already gave to Him?

We love by CONFRONTING– I don’t always find this necessary, but at times I do. Now I don’t mean, “Listen, what you did to me was wrong, and  you need to know that I’m in the right . . . .”  What I mean is talking it out.  This may be hard, but God asks us to leave our gifts at the alter and make what is between another brother (or sister) right.  Confronting often gives us another side of the story, thus softening us toward that person. This doesn’t always pan out the way it should.  There is a woman at our church who has taught be a lot about this subject.  I had nothing but admiration for her, until I became a staff member.  We did nothing but butt heads.  I showed up to a prayer meeting one night and saw her up front worshiping.  I knew it would not be right if I did the same.  I called her the next day to make things right between us only to be shot down.    Pretty much everything was my fault and it was left at that.  I honestly have just had to forgive, move on and love her anyway.

We love by SERVING– Have I mentioned I’m not very compassionate?  This one takes quite a bit of work for me.  For a few years a served under a pastor that I had major friction with- to put it nicely.  I remember waiting for my new husband to get out of a meeting with him (we only had one car) late one Wednesday night.  In the arctic tundra of Michigan, it snows.  A lot.  As much as I couldn’t stand this man I served, as I waited, I went and dusted the snow off of his and his wife’s car.  All I kept thinking was, “God, please don’t let him see me do this.  I know I will get no treasure in heaven for this because my pride is through the roof, but please don’t let him come out and see me doing this for him!”  I laugh as I think about that prayer.  But really what God was doing as I served him was softening my heart.

We love through PRAYER– I have found God’s grace in this time and time again.  I was developing bitter feelings toward a young mom who did not like the way I was running a ministry.  It was not catering to her needs, though I was trying.  This bothered me, because as you and I both know, we work very hard at what we do.  When someone comes in and bashes our hard work, it hurts.  The next weekend she approached me for prayer.  I thought, “Are you serious?  Really?  You want something from me now?”  You’ve thought these things too, I’m just sayin’ it.  Something happened in that prayer time.  The bitterness broke off.  My heart softened, and I wasn’t just forcing myself to love her, I really did want to love her.  I know this doesn’t happen every time we pray, but there are those miraculous moments when it does.  Other times, it’s an onion.

TODAY’S CHALLENGE:

Just LOVE.  Forgive, confront if necessary, serve, and pray.  I know it seems simple, but I have found the simplest things tend to be the hardest things.  Choose to love today.  Remember: God chose to love us though we were yet sinners.  He loves the people in our congregations too. Who is God placing on your heart right now?  I challenge you today to choose to love them somehow.  Pick one of the above and just do it.  It will be painful and may make you nauseous, but God will bless you in it and through it.

PRAY WITH ME SISTERS:

“Lord, we hurt you time and time again, yet you still love us.  Please help us to love as you do.  Help us to see people through your eyes, and not our fleshly eyes.  We want to fulfill your purpose, and that is to know you and make you known.  Please do not allow us to have anything hinder that.  When bitterness tries to make an appearance, bring it to the forefront of our minds so we may rid it before it takes root.  Thank you, Lord.  Amen.”

 

Love you ladies!

Click here for BITTERNESS PART 1- Dealing with those who are bitter with us.

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  1. Amber

    Sooo good!! What a timely message for this pastors wife! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

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