7 Proven Steps for Overcoming Resentment & Letting Go of Bitterness

“Apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5 (NIV)

Hurt tempts us to comply with a variety of unreasonable emotions. We don’t aim to become bitter people in our relationships, but life happens. Scripture warns in Ephesians 4:26“In your anger, do not sin.” Bitterness is characterized by intense cynicism, antagonism or hostility. (dictionary.com) “Most of our bitterness and anger towards others is rooted in an inability to be profoundly amazed at Christ’s love for us in our sin.” (John Piper)  It interferes with forgiveness too and makes it hard to accept certain realities.

Resentment is the byproduct of bitterness and unchecked anger within relationships, most often marriage. Colossians 3:8 warns, “But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.” Resentment can transform from a behavioral reaction to a personality trait. However, when Christ stitches our wounds together, the bleeding stops and peace is restored.

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A Prayer for Those Going through Divorce at Christmas

Divorce doesn’t have to be the crushing end to all Christmas traditions. Hope does not have to fade as the picturesque view of a familiar life wanes. Christmas is the celebration of the hope Jesus brought into the world with His infant cries. 

Hope lives in Jesus-filled hearts. 

1. Don’t Let it Define You

Both Christian and agnostic folks have an opinion about the right or wrong of marriages that end in divorce. The holiday season brings them all together and sits them down right in front of you with a stage to speak their truth. Don’t be defined by it. 

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

When God says He loves you, He loves you. There’s no “if” or “unless” attached. 

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The Christmas Dolphins

Welcome to the #recall12 series, where we are memorizing a little bit of God’s great Word each month! This month’s verse is: 

“God will take care of the hidden things …” Deuteronomy 29:29 MSG

“Mom!!!!” My seven-year-old screeched as she took off into the depths of the house,  “I have the BEST idea for Christmas cookies this year!” dec recall 12

The discomforting changes that we instinctively fight can yield a refreshing freedom to embrace new traditions.

My then-Kindergartener emerged from the basement with a play doh-cutter in her hand.

“CHRISTMAS DOLPHINS!!!!” she spat out with glee. “For Grammy and Papa.”  Though we were all sad to see them relocate to warmer climate permanantly, my daughter reminded me to allow the possibility of what could be compared to what had always been.

Today’s verse expounds upon an Israelite people that would rely on descendants to carry on their commitment to the Lord. Even Moses would turn the reigns of leadership over to Joshua before they would set eyes on their promised land.

” The Lord our God keeps certain things hidden. But he makes other things known to us and to our children forever. He does it so we can obey all the words of this law.” Deuteronomy 29:29 NIRV

The wisdom gained over an ancestral lifetime wasn’t automatically transferred to the recall12 dec tweet 2.png
next generation back then, nor is it now. Try as we may to listen to those that have gone before us, history tends to repeat itself. Additionally, God doesn’t make all things available to learn in this lifetime.

hidden- being out of sight or not readily apparent. (Merriam-Webster)

In the second half of this month’s verse, I believe a shred of light is cast on the most popular question human-kind raises …why? “He does it so we can obey …” He’s omnipotently given us a unique purpose in this life that we are not always privy to.

 “We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!” 1Corinthians 13:12 MSG

dec recall 2
Jesus is our glimpse.

When we are mangled from the latest mess of this falling landscape, He is there. As pieces of our hearts shatter irreparably, He holds onto the shards. It’s hard to imagine our Savior suffering, but Christ felt every hurt that we feel from the manger to the cross. He was mocked and shut out of social circles …beaten though innocent …judged yet perfect …tempted by the devil. And He is our bridge over the gaps we cannot fulfill within our minds upon this earth.

The hidden things belong to the Lord our God, but the revealed things belong to us and our children forever, so that we may follow all the words of this law.” Deuteronomy 29:29 HCSB

“The revealed things belong to us.”   We can trust that through every hurtful change …misunderstood abandonment …heart wrenching suffering and unplanned diversion,  He has given us what we need to survive. Faith in Christ allows us to loosen our grip on the injustice of “why,” in trade for the patience to wait on “Who.” The Israelites would fall and flounder over and over again, suffering at the hand of their own disobedience. But we have a hope that they did not. Jesus.

“As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love.” John 15:9

Christmas is a celebration of our allowance into the presence of God, because of the life Jesus lived and the death He conquered to free us from the curse of sin.
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” For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror…” 1Corinthians 13:12a NIV

Faith is being able to look into the face of unexplainable difficulty and see the goodness of God. When we look for Him, we will find Him. He is evident in creation, and waiting in His Word.

hēnnâ is an adverb meaning “here,” usually in the sense of “in this place, – Mounce Complete Expository Dictionary

He is in His Word. For Christians, He is in us. His creation reflects the beauty of His glory. He is here.

 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy,” 1Peter 1:8 NIV

recall 12 dec tweet 1Though we fight unwelcome change, we want God’s will over our plan. When we allow our grasp on the concrete “why”to fade, faith in what He has hidden is overcome by what He’s revealed. We become content to abide in His secrets when we understand more about who He is. Faith is trusting our Father to hold onto the unknown answers. Christmas is honoring what we know with what we have …right now. Make the Christmas trees, wreaths, and angels …but leave room for the Christmas dolphins, too.

“…then I saw all that God has done. No one can comprehend what goes on under the sun. Despite all his efforts to search tout, man cannot discover it’s meaning. Even if a wise man claims he knows, he cannot really comprehend it.” Ecclesiastes 8:17

know- to perceive directly (Merriam-Webster)

comprehend- to grasp the nature, significance, or meaning of (Merriam-Webster)

We don’t need to know when we comprehend “why’s” Author.

Happy Christmas,

Megs

Click here or on the image for this month’s FREE verse memory cards

Screenshot 2017-10-11 15.29.01#recall 12 verse cards, DEcember PDF

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The Windows

“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” Psalm 56:3 ESV

King David wrote Psalm 56 when the Philistines captured him in Gath (Lucado Life Lessons).

“Isn’t this David, then king of the land? Isn’t he the one they sing about in their dances: ‘Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands?” 2 Samuel 21:11 (NIV)

The strength to live authentically comes from God, alone. King David’s encouragement is centered on the confidence source of our courage. Living our full truth out loud comes from bravely walking within our God-placed purpose.  Comparing our lives to those around us, and the mold of societal acceptance, chokes our ability to live uninhibited. But life exposed to the Light sets us free.

Hidden Heart Health

When I first earned the freedom to drive, I began to exit the highway early on the way to my family’s favorite summer hangout. Windows down and Alanis turned up, I dreamt of what it would be like to swap the suburban hustle for a sleepy lake-town life. Little did I know at 16, that roughly fifteen years later God would move our family onto a piece of land that my ’86 Nova passed by hundreds of times.

We unwrapped and repacked Christmas the year that we moved from our beloved starter home. The tree was reassembled and each ornamental reminder was placed back on it’s branches, and everyone in that sleepy little lake town noticed.  Suddenly the plethora of windows we choose to fit our house with, along the only busy road in town, seemed like a questionable idea.

“When I’m afraid …”

Charles F. Stanely points out that “the psalmist does not say, ‘if I am afraid,’ he says, ‘when I am afraid.'” 

David was afraid of Saul. He was on the run, and hoping to be considered insane, so he could continue to run further away from who he was. “He pretended to be insane in their presence; and while he was in their hands he acted like a madman, making marks on the doors of the gate and letting saliva run down his beard.” 1 Samuel 21:12-13 (NIV)

Is this seriously the King David that killed Goliath? Fear is a slippery slope. They bought his act, and he continued to run.

“Look at the man! He is insane!” 2 Samuel 21:14 (NIV)

We all face something in life that makes us want to close all the blinds and hide from the world. God promises never to leave us, and forgive our sins when we confess them. Fear causes us to assume we are alone and unforgivable,  re-confessing and running from sin that He has already forgiven.

Legitimate Labels

In an attempt to stretch farther than I could reach, a vase teetered and came crashing to the ground in pieces. I picked up the pieces, but the tiny shards were too small to be glued back together.

“I put my trust in you.”

The MacArthur Study Bible states that “Confidence in the Lord is a purposeful decision, replacing an emotional reaction to one’s circumstances.”

David was definitely having an emotional reaction as he ran from King Saul, but he eventually remembered what the Lord had said. God’s Truth can snap us out of temporary insanity. Hiding with his men in the back of a cave, King Saul entered to ‘relieve himself.’ David snuck up and cut off a piece of Saul’s robe, and then has an attack of conscience. (2 Samuel 24: 1-5)

“The Lord forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the Lord’s anointed, or lay my hand on him; for he is the anointed of the Lord.” 2 Samuel 24:6 (NIV)

Labels can be leveling, especially the ones that we are hesitant to claim. There are certain thing we don’t post on social media, or bring in up in casual conversation, because it’s hard to believe they belong to us. We’d rather close the blinds.

The redemptive power of Christ pieces every tiny shard back together. He rolls on grace like gorilla glue. We don’t have to stop living life or hide our progress. The journey back to who He says we’ve always been is a testimony to His great love. Don’t draw the blinds on that.

Charles F. Stanley says in his Life Principles Bible Notes, “God does not tell us to ignore our anxieties, but to bring them to Him and realize that He can overcome any terror we ever have to face.”

Reverse Roles

My husband and I didn’t think about the ramifications of everyone being able to peer into our lives through the windows, because we were attracted to the beauty of natural light.  Living in fear of what others might see draws the blinds. We hide from exposure. That’s not the life God gave us to live. That’s not the life Jesus died to grant us. “I came so that you may have life, and have it to the full,” Jesus said in John 10:10

“God, whose word I praise …”

When Saul was finished relieving himself, David followed him out of that cave. “My lord the king!” He bowed as Saul turned around. (1 Samuel 24:8He stepped out from the dark cave and into the light, exposing his truth, and the pieces were put back into place.

“You have treated me well, but I have treated you badly,” Saul replied as he wept allowed. 1 Samuel 24:16-17 (NIV)

Living our lives exposed to the light grants us freedom. When we turn up the volume on other voices, opinions, worries, shame, and regret, we become self-focused and selfish in protecting what we fear are unforgivable mistakes and missteps.

Authentically living for Christ begins with a real relationship with Him, in prayer and Scripture. David walked out of that cave to face Saul, reaffirmed by remembering who God said he was. Our stories, labels, and lives, exist so that others may experience the love of Christ.

“When struck by fear, I let go, depending securely upon You alone. In God- whose word I praise- in God I place my trust. I shall not let fear come in, for what can measly men do to me?” Psalm 56:3-4 (VOICE)

Father,  Praise You for this day, and Your purpose for it. Thank You for the blessings we woke up today, and those that will riddle our minutes and we walk throughout it. Forgive us for hiding the parts of our lives that are hard to face. We want to fully trust in You, God. Give us hearts like Jesus’. Help us to live authentically because we trust in You. Make us aware, as we travel through daily conversations, of those that we are meant to encourage by sharing parts of our struggles. Bless all those who hide in the darkness, ashamed and scared. May be a bright light of encouragement to every person You purposely place in our lives. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Happy Brightening,

Megs

The Strength to Be Joyful

The voice outside the door was pretty routine. I had tried to steal a moment away to go to the bathroom, and fooled myself into thinking that shutting the door would signal the little people in the house to allow me a moment of privacy. (Bah. Ha. Ha.) God’s sense of humor never ceases to amaze me, and the state in which He met me for this moment was right on cue.

The uncharacteristic hesitation in my daughter’s voice led me to ask if she was OK.  It hadn’t been the easiest year, and my heart broke right along with hers.  I had been covering her in prayer and God’s Truth. That day, my eyes glazed over as she peeked through a crack in that bathroom door to tell me what was weighing on her heart.

” I want to have Jesus in my heart,” my daughter whimpered, “it’s just too hard without Him.” 

“I need Jesus, Mommy.”  I excused myself to “wash my hands” and then witnessed my daughter handing her life over to Christ as we prayed together. It was a marking moment of pure joy, that sent my prayer life into overdrive on a completely new level. A heart surrendered to Jesus will most certainly face trials and challenges, and strength is what I pray for my girl as she faces the start of the next decade in-step with her Savior.

The Strength to Be Joyful.

“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy many be complete.” John 15:11 (NIV)

His strength enables my feet to keep trekking on. “Be joyful always,” ( 1 Thesalonians 5:16), is a lot easier to live out when things are sunny-side up. But when life becomes painful, hard, and unfair …lonely and badgered with doubt …it takes His strength to keep hiking through the snowy woods.

The Greek word for “joy” in  John 15:11 is chara,” which means “joy, gladness.” But underneath a part of the definition that says, “the cause or occasion of joy,” it’s defined a little further as, “of person’s who are one’s joy.”

When Jesus is our joy, it is complete. His joy becomes ours. He becomes our joy. The root word of chara is chairo, a primary Greek word that expands the meaning unto “to be well, thrive.” The strength to find Joy comes from Him.

The Strength to Surrender.

 The source of our strength isn’t something that we can grip, it’s a surrender to a source that flows through us.

Surrender means to yield the possession of power, to give oneself up, relinquish, abandon, or “to give oneself up to some influence, course, or emotion.” Jesus told his disciples, “Greater love has no one than this, to lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13

“The branch must remain open to the flow of the vine’s life. If the branch were simply wound around the vine tightly, it would still die without producing any fruit.” Beth Moore, Portraits of Devotion, Day 216.

On whose accord to we lay down our lives for our friends if  we have not surrendered our own into His hands? Surrendering our self-centered disposition for a Christ-centered perspective takes Holy Spirit strength. A daily, soul-surrendering strengthening, from the vine.

The Strength to Obey

“If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in His love.” John 15:10

Why is that so hard for humanity to accept that uninterrupted obedience is unattainable this side of heaven? Even before the constant clamor of criticism that bombards us through social streams, internal doubt has always threatened to disqualify us from the full and vibrant life Christ died to give us.

The same little voice that peeked into the bathroom weeks earlier, recently discovered that discipline remained a part of a Christ-committed life. Frustrated by her own disobedience, that sweet child asked me if He was even in there.

“Of course He is,” I reassured her, pointing to her heart,“He will never leave you.”

Christianity is a slow change, an individual walk. Yet, we compare our obedience to those around us and entertain benchmarks that may not be realistic for the current way-point of our hearts. Each day that we choose to walk with Jesus, we get a little stronger. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit provides us with the strength to obediently follow Him.

The Strength to be Imperfect

Lucky for me I grew up in the 90’s, or my struggle with perfectionism would have been glaringly obvious. Don’t mistake my life for a suffered one …I’m the same high energy crack-up that I’ve always been. I just don’t own a scale, talk about weight, or lose sleep over my reflection.  God convicted me of that negative thought cycle long ago, and I choose to obediently stop it. We will never lack strength to accomplish His will in our lives.

How easily our hearts can be led down a road full of absolute crap.

“It’s a lesson, not your life-story,” I assure my daughters when they make mistakes. “Everyone struggles with difficult choices.” 

How can we let our soul’s find their worth in a grade, paycheck, weight, good review, re-tweet, or accolade ? The strength to be imperfect comes from Christ. If we hold onto anything else but His validation, then we set ourselves up for a good crushing when the external feedback we receive inevitably fails us.

“There is no fear in love,” 1 John 4:18a says. Guilt and shame over the mistakes we have made in our lives does not come from God. Romans 3:10 states, “There is no one righteous, not even one.” Jesus died so that we could live life to the full (John 10:10b).  He never said we had to be perfect.

The Strength to Construct Healthy Boundaries

“My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hiding all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Colossians 2:2-3 (NIV)

Paul was writing to the Colossians in combat of heresy (any belief or theory that is strongly at variance with establishedbeliefs, customs, etc.). The NIV Study Bible lists examples of ceremonialism, asceticism, worship of (or with) angels, devaluing the person and work of Christ, secret knowledge, and reliance on human wisdom and tradition. This was a no-brainer for Paul. He had witnessed Christ. There were no gray areas for him. He confidently exposed these false practices. 

How often do we take a look around our lives and gently rebuke and remove incorrect theology and religious practices? How often do we speak up and speak out about Christ when a worldly world-ism wafts across our eardrums? Paul was confident! He was strong enough to put up healthy boundaries as to what he was willing to absorb and entertain. We would be smart to focus on Christ the way Paul did.

It takes strength to walk away, kindly disagree, pray for an enemy, forgive and unfairness, process criticism with humility, or forgive ourselves for failure. “If you want to change, surround yourself with people that get it,” my pastor preached this past Sunday.

What if God asks us to obediently embrace a season of isolation as we tune into His voice above all others? The Book of 1 Kings tells how God prepared the prophet Elijah. Through my daily journey with First5, I learned that he obediently hid for three years, relying on ravens to bring Him meals twice a day. “But God wasn’t setting Elijah aside — He was setting Elijah apart.” Krista Williams, First5

Strong.

 “ Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.  Do everything in love.” 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 (NIV)

God has laid this lesson of strength upon my heart this year, and He continues to teach me how His strength lies behind our  joy, surrendering, obedience, imperfection, and construction of healthy boundaries. Listen, stay alert, stand tall in the faith, be courageous, and be strong.  Let love prevail in your life, words, and actions.” 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 (VOICE) For Love to prevail in our lives, our connection to the Vine must be strong. We can accomplish this by training daily in study of His Word, and obediently following His lead for our lives. 

Happy Strength-training,

Megs