From Bitter Root to Flower of Forgiveness
We all don’t mean to grow up in bitterness. I was a good girl in school and in church, doing my absolute best for excellence despite my disabilities and respecting those in authority. But some people treated me without love because of my disabilities. I was called by many names like a retard, been poked at, making fun at me and gotten beaten up by the school kids. At home, not all things were rosy either. I grew up from a single parent family with my older brother. I would be punished for without cause and my brother would make me do things that I did not want to do and that caused pain. My mom had many boyfriends in the home and life was very toxic to say the least. I knew God, as I grew up in Sunday school and other church activities. At least I felt safe and felt loved.
God loves all people, including those who are outcast by society. I felt like an outcast growing up. I knew I was imperfect, but I was perfect in God’s eyes. When we look around today, nobody is perfect, that is what makes us so uniquely human! Do you know the story of the woman who wept at Jesus’ feet and poured perfect on them? (Luke 7:36-50) Did you notice the Pharisee labeled the woman a sinner (verse 39) while Jesus accepted her as she is? That Jesus spoked to her gently and told her that her sins were forgiven? (Verse 47-50). In Romans 5:8, Paul said, “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” That means, we are recipients of His Divine love and that we are conduits of His love to those who would receive … no matter how flawed we are. His love is unconditional! That is it!
Although I knew God, I also know that hurt fertilizes bitterness and that grows like a weed … its root are so deep into the soil of the heart and spirit. When watered with anger and resentment, it chokes the good plants that are nourishing to our heart and spirit. Hebrews 12:15 says “See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” Bitterness can multiply and spring forth ugliness. The sad part of this is that bitterness creates a wall of separation from God and those bad habits such as anger and resentments become the norm. We had forgotten the call of God which says in Hebrews 12:14, “Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.” With bitterness, we are constantly suffering and doesn’t allow for peace to enter. The bible warns us in Ephesians 4:31 – “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” Therefore, is why we call upon the Divine to help us. God’s mercy reveals us the three steps.
1. Take our bitterness to God. Ask God to dig it up and banish it. That is what Job did during his ordeal – “Remember, O God, that my life is but a breath; my eyes will never see happiness again. ‘Therefore I will not keep silent; I will speak out in the anguish of my spirit, I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.’” (Job 7:7,11)
This is a time in my life that I know God as my rock and deliverance, I had to plead for His help. In that small still voice from the Divine, the message was that I must forgive. Any bitterness we hold in our heart tells that we must forgive to have the bitterness released in God’s hands. But how do we manage to do that?
2. Ask God to teach you. Forgiveness is not an act but rather, it is a process. Forgiveness cannot be measured, it isn’t about the one who hurt us but rather, it is about restoring our faith and relationship with God first and being ready to be healed by the Devine. Matthew 18:21-22. “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.’” So although it is a process and takes time, how do we accomplish such forgiveness?
3. Relying on Holy Spirit’s great divine power. Forgiveness is tough work indeed. We must rely on God’s strength to be able to forgive the hurt that we don’t deserve – the kind that makes us bitter. When we ask the Holy Spirit to empower us, the power enables us to do so. Then the forgiveness becomes a witness just as Jesus promised us at the Day of Pentecost – “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”(Acts 1:8)
So when we take our bitterness to God, we ask Him to teach us to forgive. Our struggles in forgiveness becomes a witness for Christ. When the bitter roots gets us into trouble; with God, the flower for forgiveness brings beauty and grace and becomes a witness to all who sees the Divine within us. His unconditional loves keeps flowing and produces a harvest of grace and light.