Are You Bitter or Better?

“How do I know if I’m bitter?” I am often asked that question. Here are some ways you can tell:

Do people set your teeth on edge?

Who have you blocked on Facebook lately and why?

Do you cross the street when certain people come your way?

Does your jaw set when you think of somebody? And why?

When you hold onto unforgiveness and let it grow in your heart, before long you will have bitterness.

Bitterness grows roots that bury deep in your heart. It hurts you. It blocks God. It stunts your growth.

Think of your heart as a garden. What happens when weeds grow in your garden?

Hurt and bitterness are not necessarily the same thing. But hurt can lead to bitterness if you don’t deal with it. Bitterness is unhealed hurt. It’s when you keep gnashing your teeth long after the initial pain is gone.

Bitterness can be devastating. It causes further hurt to you and to the people you are bitter against.

Can you think of a time when you were hurt and felt bitter? Or a time when you didn’t?

Bitterness can also affect the physical body. It can cause the hands and feet to draw up. That’s a sure way for me to know if I’m dealing with bitterness.

The good news is that God has provided a way to get over bitterness:

1. Choose to forgive.
2. Then forgive.
3. Wash, rinse, repeat.

If you’re not sure where your bitterness comes from, ask God to show you who you have aught against, and why.

If you are ready to forgive those who have hurt you, here is a simple but powerful prayer:

Lord, I forgive _____ for _____ and I choose to release them.

Then test it out. The next time you see those people or think of them, how do you respond?

Do you growl? If so, wash, rinse, repeat.

Or are you able to pray blessings for them?

Keys to Being Real

God’s plan for freedom is beautifully simple. He gives us these keys to find healing in our hearts:

Repentance

When we repent for specific ways we have judged people, and for the lies we have taken into our hearts, we find freedom. Repentance allows us to break out of the enemy’s hold on our hearts. We replace lies with truth.

Forgiveness

Forgiveness is one of the most powerful healing tools God has given us. When we forgive, we release others to be who God has created them to be. And we free ourselves to step into healing of our hearts. The article Wash, Rinse, Repeat will help you learn more about the process of forgiveness.

Presence

We have the privilege every day to just sit still and be in God’s presence. Quieten yourself. It’s the hardest thing you’ll ever do for your life. Don’t expect it to get easier. It never changes. It’s always hard. But the results are life-saving. Presence. Don’t leave home without it.

Accountability

Find people, a tribe, a community that will help you when you’re good, bad, or indifferent. You can’t navigate your authenticity without it, because you lie to yourself, and the enemy reinforces those lies. You lie to yourself about yourself, so the reality is you only have the Word of God and your people to help you navigate what’s true about you.

Truth

Truth is your greatest weapon against the lies that have taken root in your heart. A lot of people avoid truth because it seems harsh. Here’s the reality: If truth can save your life, and heal you, don’t hide from it. If I went to my doctor’s office, and he discovered I had cancer, wouldn’t I want to know, so I can be healed? What if the doctor didn’t tell me because he was afraid the truth would “hurt” me? Let God’s truth do its work in your heart.

Peace

Peace is a Person (Ephesians 2:14-18; Isaiah 9:6.). As you develop the practice of peace, He, the Prince of Peace (Jesus) will walk with you and teach you how to live in the now (present), in the moment. Shalom is mind, body, spirit in complete unity and rest.

Wisdom

Wisdom is also a Person (Proverbs 1:20-33). She will take up residence and walk with you, after you search her out in God.

Sabbath

God rested on the seventh day. So should we. Not necessarily the literal seventh but at least one of every seven. One hour of every seventh hour during the day.

What does it mean to rest? Quieten yourself, do things you enjoy: art, nature, music, presence. Quiet. Fun. Adventure. Friends. Puppies. Whatever brings you joy … recalibrates you … resets you mind, body, spirit … resynchronizes you with the Creator in rest.

You have the keys to your identity. God has given you everything you need. You are ready to walk out your identity quest with Him.

This is the last article in the Identity Quest series, and I hope you have enjoyed this series. To see all of the Identity Quest articles, you can follow this link.

To read more articles on the topic of Identity (including the Identity Quest articles), you will find all of my Identity-related articles here. God bless you on your identity quest!

Can You See Your Parents through God’s Lens?

I read something about how God used the circumstances of Jesus’ birth to save an illegitimate family, meaning us. That’s pretty profound. Jesus is the Son of God, but society would have called Him illegitimate. Yet in those very circumstances, Jesus reconciled us to God.

This made me think of how God uses every bit of our upbringing for His purposes in our lives. Have you considered that? Can you see your parents and your upbringing through that lens? That’s a key to honoring your parents.

What does it mean to honor your parents?

Honoring your mother and father means you can hold your parents up to be whoever God created them to be, regardless of the lens you see them through.

Are you able to honor your parents and the contribution they made into who you are? That’s pretty serious. Can you trust God enough to know that whatever your parents did or didn’t do was purposed for who are you? Purposed for your identity?

How do you do this? Start by holding your parents up to be who God created them to be. Ask the Lord to let you see their hearts, to see the way He created them.

That doesn’t come naturally. You’ve got to work this through the cross.

The only way you can honor your mother and father is if you let go of your “rights” and let God show you who they are. Because the reality is, if they acted hurtfully, they were probably hurt. Even if they were seemingly perfect, you’ve got to undo that, and recognize ways you dishonored them. Because if they were perfect, you don’t really need a savior.

Honoring not only involves forgiving your parents, but also validating who they are.

That one’s going to cost you.

Not only have you got to forgive them, but you’ve also got to ask the Lord to show them to you as He created them. If you’re still upset with them, you probably don’t see them as God sees them. And they can’t come into who God created them to be while you wear those lenses.

Once you get hold of that, all the baggage you are carrying will fall off of you like a jacket. Because once the Lord gives you a vision of who your parents are, you’ll start to be able to intercede for them to come into the same freedom you desire.

I encourage you to pray and ask the Lord to break your heart for who He created your parents to be. For how He created them. Ask Him to show you that. Then intercede for them to come back into that place. That’s what honoring is all about.

When you start praying for your parents, instead of judging them, your world is going to change radically.

 

“When I Was Younger, I Had Two Abortions”

Question: “When I was younger, I had two abortions. Now I am so very much against abortion but inside I feel like a hypocrite. Is that normal?”

First of all, let me say that I completely understand. We often make decisions when we are young without knowing the truth (or thinking about the long-term ramifications). For example, are you aware that Norma McCorvey “Roe” of Roe v. Wade has just retracted her support of abortion? Can you imagine?! She has now become Pro-life!

As for feeling like a hypocrite, I understand that also. Ask God to forgive you for your sins and then forgive yourself. God wants more than anything to set you free from condemnation, and your repentance is the first step. Once you’ve repented, use your testimony to prevent someone else from going through the emotional despair that you have gone through AND save the life of an innocent child at the same time! That’s how we overcome sin! Use your voice and your testimony. Before long, you’ll realize all of that condemnation is gone AND God gets the glory!!!

 

Wash, Rinse, Repeat

Wash, Rinse, Repeat … I discovered last week that forgiveness is a lot like shampooing. Well, let me restate that … forgiveness IS NOT as easy as but is a lot like shampooing. It’s a process. Anybody that says it’s easy is lying. Without Jesus in our heart, we (as human beings) DO NOT forgive easily. I had a lady in my office just last week because she was still hanging on to unforgiveness regarding an old relationship. I told her you can’t move on until you forgive her. “I HAVE FORGIVEN HER,” she said through gritted teeth. “BUT SHE SHOULDN’T HAVE DONE THAT TO ME.”

Hmmmm … doesn’t sound like forgiveness to me.

First of all, forgiveness doesn’t end in “BUT.” Second, if you grit your teeth at the sheer mention of the “forgiven’s name” chances are you haven’t really forgiven. I felt for the lady. I KNOW how hard forgiveness is. That’s when I realized it’s like shampoo. Wash, Rinse, Repeat, (and for me … repeat, repeat, repeat.)

I don’t know about you but for me it’s seldom a one-time deal. I have to do it over and over again. (Forgive, that is, not shampoo.) I usually start the process out of sheer obedience. I do it because I know it pleases God. It doesn’t please me. It doesn’t make me feel good. I don’t like it. It is absolutely contrary to my flesh. Often, my justification is that they don’t deserve it until they apologize. (That reeks of God, doesn’t it? No, THAT, my friend, is what my flesh looks like.)

Back to the process of forgiveness … and it’s not to be legalistic – I am a very simple person and I need things simple – this works for me:

(1) I envision leaving that person at the cross. (That’s one of the purposes of the cross – a place to leave our stuff.)

(2) I leave the circumstance at the cross. (That means I don’t have the right to rehearse it in my mind anymore.)

(3) I lay my “rights” at the cross. That includes my right to be right. The word is pretty clear that if we defend ourselves God will not defend us. And you can trust God to bring justice and defense. (Trust me, I have seen the Holy Spirit in retaliation before and it’s much more effective than anything I could ever do.)

(4) After all of that, I forgive myself. (Hence, wash, rinse, repeat.)

AND THEN … I wait for “the fruit” of my obedience. If I growl at the mention of the offender’s name, chances are, I am still carrying the offense. If I feel a knot (I often refer to it as a “high octane ping”) in my gut the next time I see them – that’s a good indication that I have more work to do.

I was just recently inquiring of God about how to deal with a circumstance I was going through in regard to forgiveness. I have done a lot of work but I was concerned how I would interact with this person, knowing that even though I have worked through much of the forgiveness, I need boundaries with them. I expressed to Him that I WILL NOT BE FAKE. I hate it when people act fake. I told Him I refuse to be fake, so how do I act when I’m around someone that I’m in process of forgiving but my heart is still hurt and I am still upset. He laughed. And then He said, “Don’t stay upset with anyone!” Duh … (There I go again: Wash, Rinse, Repeat, Repeat, Repeat.)