Have you ever found yourself talking about a person who wronged you, just so others will respond incredulously? That response of “I can’t believe it!” or “No, he didn’t!” justifies a sense of self-righteous anger and bitterness.
Bitterness might be one of the easiest emotions to give in to. Especially since, in most cases, bitterness is a result of actions done towards us, giving us every right to fall into a victim mentality.
I don’t like to admit it, but I was that person recently. Anyone who asked me how I was doing got to hear the sob story of how two of my friend’s actions hurt me deeply. And anyone who heard it sided with me and was scandalized on my behalf. I felt a twisted delight when people offered to leave flaming poop on doorsteps, or mail envelopes full of glitter, as payback.
The bitterness was taking root in my heart.
Thankfully, I recognized that sour taste in my mouth when I began to speak of either of the people involved. Unlike other times in my life, I did not relish that taste. “Stop talking about it. Everyone does not need to know about this, regardless of how you were treated or who was right,” I had to tell myself over and over.
Gradually, the bitterness faded away, but the unforgiveness remained.
Last week during a conversation with some coworkers, the question was posed, “how do you forgive people who have hurt you?” Immediately I wanted to stop listening, to selfishly block out the answer so I wouldn’t feel convicted to actually forgive these people. The answer was so firmly rooted in the words of Jesus, I had no choice but to hear it.
“Pray blessings over them.”
Holy conviction, Batman.
It hit me like a ton of bricks. I had half-heartedly prayed to forgive them, but it wasn’t gone yet. Pray blessings over them. Pray again and again that they be blessed. If you are praying blessings, how can you hold on to bitterness and spite? You just can’t. Eventually, little by little, that unforgiveness is chipped away by those prayers for blessings. Little by little, the hurt is forgotten and the gaps are filled with hope. Little by little, the shame and embarrassment fade.
“…bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Luke 6:28
It’s not easy, but it’s a much easier pill to swallow than that bitter one.
Are there people in your life you haven’t forgiven–and maybe don’t know how to?
Pray blessings over them. Pray for hope and joy to find them. Pray for life abundantly and you’ll find you have more hope, joy, and life yourself.