I’ve been feeling challenged lately about letting go of bitterness and letting God replace it with something better. Anyone who would listen to the details of the pain points that have littered my life over the past couple years would probably say I have every human reason to be angry and bitter about some things. And that is validating because I have felt those things. But I also know that God calls me to let go of that so I can receive something better from Him – and so that I can emanate something better for Him. Yet, I’m still feeling deficient of courage to do it. Or perhaps I’m choosing self pity and disobedience.
So in the midst of this messy emotional journey, today I read these words written by Sara Hagerty and they struck me:
I can’t both profess Him as God and carry this nagging disdain for every hiccup, big or small, in my life
In my head, and deep in my heart, I know that holding on to my grudges (against God or others) is idolatrous. It puts my desires – often intrinsically good desires like wanting justice or fulfillment – before God. I strive more for the fulfillment of those desires than for God himself. It gets messy because there is real grief mixed in and processing that is important. But somehow I have to feel the pain, sadness, and anger, without letting it taint what I know to be true of God. Sure, I would say with confidence that God is good, but does my reaction to the grit of life reflect that?
Lately I’ve been in the thick of weaning Arianna, my almost two year-old daughter, and particularly trying to teach her to sleep without mama’s milk. When she wakes up asking for it and then begins shedding tears because I’m telling her she has to wait until morning, it’s hard. I hate knowing that I could prevent those tears from falling. I know it’s for her overall good (after much wrestling I know it’s the right time), but it’s not what she wants and she lets me know! I whisper in her ear (or try to speak loudly over her crying) that I’m sorry she is sad, that I’m there, that I love her, and that she is going to be ok. Then, usually sooner than expected, she calms down and drifts back to sleep.
In speaking to my earthly daddy about this he reminded me how much this mirrors our life with God. We have desires, often good ones like feeling safe and being fulfilled, but we often get frustrated when God doesn’t give those things to us in the way we want. In life’s hard circumstances I cry out to God for deliverance. I know He could make the crying stop, but sometimes He doesn’t. I often react with feelings of confusion and anger especially when I feel like I can’t see Him or feel Him. The truth is He does care deeply that I am hurting. He is there with me. He’s whispering to me that He loves me. He reassures me that it will be ok. I just can’t always hear it over the sound of my own crying or maybe I don’t want to accept that there may be another way to cope than the one I want.
So back to that line I read.
The writer was sharing about the gaps she’s experienced – times that felt empty of Gods goodness (usually when things didn’t go the way she desired). She’s a bit farther along on this journey then I am and she goes on to talk about how to replace what I might term a root of bitterness with adoration.
Sarah writes, “I can’t both profess Him as God and carry this nagging disdain for every hiccup, big or small, in my life…So I adore Him — I say His Word back to Him in my own words…Adoration gives those gaps new definition. They move from being these random shards of glass wedging their way into my story to becoming my starting point for conversation: tell me who You are, God, when my life breaks? Show Yourself to me, here.”
So I adore Him — I say His Word back to Him in my own words
I’m convicted. You? Want to join me in intentionally adoring Him each day this February? It’s a month with all kinds of hype about love. I know God loves me and His Word is His love letter to me but if you’re like me sometimes I only treat that truth like a trite valentine. It’s sweet and cute, but not something I’m rooted in all year round. Instead I need to more quickly and deeply trust God’s heart for me in every circumstance. I want to more willingly and readily respond to life’s “gaps” as starting points for a new encounter with God and who He is in the situation rather than simply unwelcome intrusions in my life that needs to be shut down.
Sara has made it easy to take small steps to this end. She’s made a printable list of verses for the month of February so that each day we can take a moment to let His Word change our tone from bitter to adoring. Or if this is something you want to work on with your kids to cultivate the spirit of adoration in your children, you can download her 30 day free e-book called “Children Adore” (scroll to the end of the post on this page to skip to the download options).
It’s a little scary to put myself out here like this with something that is a real struggle, but now I’m accountable to you all to be taking some intentional steps of courage and faith. I hope we can encourage one another too. I’d love to hear your comments if you’re up for doing this with me or if you want to share about any other things that have helped you to curb bitterness or self pity. We do have a God who loves us. Let’s learn to rest in Him by choosing to adore Him no matter the circumstance.
In His grip,
*The top two images are property of http://www.everybitterthingissweet.com and if this post resonated with you I encourage you to check out Sara’s blog and other resources there.