Friday 21 February
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When I have feelings of bitterness

Anger takes different forms. Some people blow up like a volcano. Others are sparky and irritable. Others take their anger deep into their souls, “nursing their wrath to keep it warm”, like Tam O’Shanter’s wife. This is a slow burning, smouldering anger.

It becomes like a poison in the system, turning life sour and bitter. You can taste it and smell it, like an atmosphere. You can see it on the hard lines of the face. It may be buried, but it is not hidden. We talk of people with a “chip on the shoulder”. You can see it.

It comes down to a choice. I let that poison sour my view of life and spill over into relationships that have nothing to do with the hurt; or I choose to be grateful for the gift of life and the people around me. I choose to let the hurt go.

Bitterness comes masquerading as a friend that seems to comfort me, but it is a subtle enemy robbing me of my enjoyment of life as people tip-toe on egg-shells around me. It is time to choose.

I choose life.

Forgiveness is giving up all hopes of a having a better past. (Annie Lamont). Sometimes we have to forgive life itself. Is it blasphemy to say that we may need to forgive God? It will not sound like blasphemy to God. He will gladly carry the burden of our bitterness into the oblivion of his eternal forgetfulness.

Forgiving, we are free to be forgiven. Forgiven, we are freed up to forgive. It works both ways.

Paul’s words are very direct: “Get rid of all bitterness,rage and anger… Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:31-32)

That sums it up nicely. Our choice.

Words of comfort

Colossians 3:13

​Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

Ephesians 4:31-32

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Galatians 5:25,26

Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

Prayers

Forgive and forget

Forgive and forget is what we always say.

It’s just that I can’t, Lord.
I want to, but I keep replaying the scene in my head.
I know better what I want to say and do now.
And I don’t want them to get away with it either.
It’s just not fair how things turned out before.
Lord, forgive me when I think I know best,
forgive me when I hold on to a grudge long after you have let go.
Help me “forgive everyone everything”
and to let go (even when I can’t or shouldn’t forget).
Make me more like you.

An Old Suitcase

Take a moment to be quiet and think about an old suitcase. Not a nice new airline-friendly suitcase. A hard, old, brown case, a bit frayed around the edges, with stickers on of places visited.

In your mind’s eye open it and look inside. All the things you carry around in it. The words you spoke and couldn’t take back. The time you weren’t there. The places you shouldn’t have been. The things you wish you’d never done. The relationships that went sour. The regrets. The hard feelings. The hurts that won’t go away. The things others have done to you that you blame yourself for. They are all so familiar, even comfortable to have. In case they need to be dusted down and used again.

Let Jesus look into your old suitcase. What will he do with your possessions? What will he do with this collection of tired memories and faded dreams? What will he do with your hurts and failures?

Let Jesus empty your suitcase and fill it with love, forgiveness, renewal, hope.

How does it feel to carry it now?

STOP

Stop.

Take a moment to let your body, mind and spirit rest. Simply breathe slowly and let yourself relax in God’s presence. Let life’s tensions flow away to give yourself complete peace.

With your heart and mind open, think of people you know, people you have met who are welcoming, accepting. The ones who always have time for others no matter who they are.
The ones who are never too busy to stop and listen. To help someone. To be there. Maybe someone has treated you that way recently. Maybe you met them long ago. Bring them to mind.

These gracious ones have a full measure, a generous helping from God. They are not anxious or grasping. They are content and at peace. They brim over with love. They do not judge or condemn but offer space – God’s space – for the people around them to inhabit.
Open your hands and your heart and model all you do today on the way these ones have treated you.