July 3, 2019
I am allergic to dandelions. Every spring, my lawn begins to grow, the dandelions show up, and I start to develop headaches and sinus problems. When it gets tiresome enough, I mow in an effort to beat them back. Every home owner knows that mowing won’t solve the problem.
In fact, it can make the dandelion problem worse by spreading their seeds out. The new seeds take root and new dandelions sprout up. I could certainly solve the problem, but I don’t really want to put the effort in.
The issue is the roots that sit under the surface. Cutting the top of the plant off doesn’t deal with the roots, only the visible signs of the plant’s presence. That is why dandelions are so difficult to deal with. As long as anything remains under the surface, the weeds will reemerge.
There is a similar phenomena that takes place in our hearts and minds. It is one of the most difficult problems to deal with and is often the thing that folks won’t address because it is too painful or difficult to do so.
That weed is bitterness. Bitterness is the condition that arises when we harbor anger, resentment, or other negative feelings toward others. It isn’t just anger though. It is anger that has spread and intensified so that it affects every aspect of our lives.
We can become bitter over past rejections, hurts, offenses, disappointments, or any other negative emotional experience. Bitterness drives us to live in a constant state of resentment and anger. It makes it so that other folks can’t do anything right in our eyes.
We reach the point where we cannot let it go and return to it regularly to feed on the negativity. Years ago, I met a man who was angry at his father, who had been dead for 30 years. That anger at his father burned hot still and spread into every other relationship he had.
He lived in a constant state of anger toward everyone and everything. In the end, the bitterness he harbored toward his father infected every aspect of his life. That’s the worst thing about bitterness. It doesn’t simply remain self-contained. It gets bigger and spreads out.
It’s like having a rotten apple in a fruit bowl. The apple’s rot spreads to the rest of the fruit. Bitterness is a spiritual cancer that destroys folks who have let it grow in their hearts and lives.
It results in misery for the person stricken with the condition and those around them. The problem is that it isn’t about the surface misery. Folks often look for ways to soothe themselves of the misery that bitterness causes.
They do this with alcohol, pornography, food, lashing out at people, and dozens of other escapes.
These things don’t work any more than mowing my dandelions makes them go away. The only real cure is digging out the roots and getting rid of it. This is miserable because the hurts that cause it are real.
It’s hard to face them and even harder to jettison the misery. This really means letting go and forgiving. The thing that is crazy about forgiving people is that it doesn’t change the people we forgive. It changes us.
A man who forgives his long dead father isn’t doing a good thing to his father. He is freeing himself of the misery he has experienced as a result of holding on to anger. There is no other cure.
Forgiving and letting go are how we dig out the root of our bitterness and free ourselves. It’s hard because it feels like we are justified, and the people who wronged us don’t deserve forgiveness. Maybe they don’t, but our forgiveness doesn’t change them. It changes us.