Bitter, or Better? It's Your Choice
Two in the Storm
Chills my heart through and through
Makes me hate a friend that's true
Builds up walls, causes pain,
Life becomes a sullen strain
Indulges ME, forgets all of you
Makes THEM pay the debt that's "due"
Causes poison in my soul
Why? It's simple: I can't control
Stinging words, ringing out
Rage and anger then the "pout"
Makes a case, defends the "just"
My pride tells me that I must
Lord please melt this bitter heart
Forgiveness make a brand new start.
Twisted by Life's Turns
I passed this lone tree on the road, shortly after a violent spring storm had blown through our hometown. Its particular location and unique shape caused me to stop quickly and pull over to take this photograph. The tree presented a distinct contrast to the straight telephone poles nearby. It seemed to capture in the twisted branches the perfect picture of the lonely, empty feelings of my past and the disappointments that had troubled me from time to time. Coincidentally, on the same afternoon, when I returned home, I received a package in the mail. It was a copy of the book in which my poem "Bitterness" was selected for publishing.
I was in such a conflicted place at the time, having recently made peace through Jesus Christ in some ongoing difficulties with my family, yet experiencing a deep depression prior. I realized that my faith was necessarily getting in the way of my relationships with them primarily from their perspective since I had all but given up on verbal expression of any sort in their presence. I was watching the evidence of turmoil to which they could not apprehend. There was a call to living truthfully and although I have never enjoyed true popularity in my family because of my choices, my faith seemed to have heightened the conflict. I realized that I have always been a truth speaker, and that most of the time those with worldly points of view just aren't that interested in you challenging what they are living for.
Subsequently, I recognized when I saw that tree and reread the poem, it was time to edit both the content and address the place that I was living in my own heart. So, as I often do, I chose to enhance my thoughts thoroughly through this article. My hope is that it will meet you in some way in your journey.
The tree was still alive but it wasn't producing any growth, like us when we choose to hold onto and rehearse our hurts. The telephone pole was a dead tree, brought to life by the communication that passed through it in great capacity every second of its use. That pole really wasn't doing it on its own, it is just useful as a conduit.
What I saw was a spiritual truth, that when we choose to live alone through our anger and justify ourselves, we get twisted, just like the tree. We can be just inches away from profound connection (like the telephone wires), but not recognize the value of communication until it is realized. Like the distance between our head and our heart, which is only a physical proximity, forgiveness is a transition of the heart. Often in our pride, we refuse to bridge the gap. Quite possibly, when we take the first step to reconcile, we might experience renewed peace and restored relationships.
Now I never claim to be any sort of angel in my lifetime prior to my spiritual awakening, however, my battles have served the purpose for which I was created. In beautiful, although sometimes misunderstood ways, I am passionate, about life, about relationships, and about my faith. I do not force what I believe on others, I just share when asked, and I am asked often because I maintain hope first and foremost, and to many that is quite obvious and noticeable. I am grateful that God sees and knows my heart and my intentions, or I would not have been able to sustain this peace during the lean seasons.
My primary calling is to encourage those who are grappling with, and/or have lost hope, which is a most desperate place to be. I know these same struggles, and am not afraid to explore, talk, and share them as needed. When I do so openly, I know that some will run and hide because they are unwilling to delve into the possibilities that one day they will experience a piece of such conflict. Others seem content to project that they live in a dream world where they choose to believe if one looks "positively" on everything, it shall not dare to interrupt the world they have maintained for themselves to function in. Having lived this folly for so many years, I do not disdain them. I do however, feel moved to pity for the day something or someone unexpected turns their world upside down, and they actually learn what living really is.
When I make a choice to forgive, I choose to open my heart for God to make that connection to the relationship that has died or been put at a distance. Bitterness, the refusal to give or accept grace, can be like a cancer in the soul. You may not physically see it, but it eats away our joy moment by moment. The sad truth is that it only kills the one who harbors it, because many times, the other person(s) go on with their lives. Sometimes they are unaware that there is a problem.
There is a always a solution if I choose the path of forgiveness. Then, and only then am I truly free to be me. Then I can go on to help others heal from the things I have overcome by God's grace. When my life is over, let it be said of me that is the path I chose no matter what the cost. God can bring to life anything I offer Him, dead or alive. He brings beauty out of the ashes of life. This is my experience of the release and healing made available through forgiveness. I prayerfully hope that it will become yours in your lifetime.