I sit in the car for what seems all night. And although I think big, and continually long for almost epidemic proportions of insight and idealism…
For some reason this night, I wanted to shrink small, run, hide, live inside my car…and never step back into reality.
For there can be this thing called, “rejection” that seems to worm inside our hearts, whispering, “someone has done us wrong, and we are justified in our bitterness”.
And sometimes even bitterness doesn’t seem like bitterness because it is tucked so tight in pride, wrapped so strong in lies that even those of us carrying it deep inside, don’t recognize it though it’s eating us.
Churches don’t talk about bitterness much either, because let’s face it; like old jeans, it can be easiest to slip on offense, and then use “religion” to hide our hearts.
Offense can be like an infants blanket we wrap around us protectively and conveniently.
We don’t want to let it go because without it we might feel lonely and empty, we might feel vulnerable and then we wouldn’t have anyone to blame our weaknesses and inadequacies on.
We are at the zoo, days later.
My two-year-old foster daughter races to the over-sized window to see the Orangutans.
And you must know, like me inside that car, she used to live inside a shell.
In fact, this week was especially hard for her, but the zoo and the animals seemed to awaken something beautiful.
Just then, a very large platinum blonde lady with what seemed to be her only child, turns abruptly from the very same window my daughter had just run to.
I stand back, watch, and listen.
“That little girl just pushed my daughter out of the way. I am going to go punch her in the face.”
I couldn’t believe my ears. Was she talking about OUR foster daughter? The one who didn’t do so much as tuck in next to her daughter who was the very same age if not older? Did this adult just say she was going to punch in MY daughter’s face”?
And who gets mad or even says something like that?
I stand in disbelief.
I walked near this lady for a bit with the flow of traffic, trying to pier into her heart, the one who threatened physical violence to my two-year-old.
It was then, she turned to look at me. And regrettably, I almost instinctively smiled at her. (Which is what I usually do when we get glares or stares for being five different ethnicities)
She looked right at me and smiled too, in between blasting her husband about how she had been offended by our toddler.
In a crowd of tons of people, I am sure she never considered this blonde mama was in fact the mama of this racially-diverse child she just lashed at and threatened to hit.
And I realize in all this, just how easy it is to fake it, how often we as a society put on plastic smiles to appease those we see as “good” or “accepting”, wanting to impress the influential, while being quick to condemn those we think we are better than.
I kept walking, breathing, finally grabbing my two-year-old’s hand, and patiently asking the Lord what to do to calm my beating heart.
I can’t say anything because I am afraid it will be mean, so I beg God just to help me to love this lady who clearly had toxic levels of bitterness and must be living, completely drenched in offense.
I wanted to tell her my daughter’s story. The fact that she is nothing short of a miracle.
Still, I wonder today friends…
- How many times do we miss the miracle because we are quick to take offense?
- How often do we turn and leave from the blessing because we place ourselves in the center of something, and then point outward, judging others for what they are not doing right?
- How many times have we hurt ourselves and our children when they watch us, when we cast blame or make accusations, and choose offense instead of forgiveness and love?
My heart cooled a little on that walk. And then something strange, that I knew must be from God happened…
I started to feel sorry for a lady who told her husband and her child that she was going to punch MY two-year-old in the face.
And what I realized was, when we choose not to forgive, our anger and offense grows and starts to attack anyone and everyone.
Bitterness like a cancer, left unchecked destroys the most innocent around us…
But worse yet, bitterness poisons the one we least expect it to, us.
I finally made it out of my car that night. The very real offense kept gripping me tight, until I sat on the couch and realized, it’s time to deal with it.
“Oh God, I can’t forgive. You ask me too, but I can’t. Will you help me.”
And I hear Him whisper, “Give it to me”.
“No, I can’t. You have to take it from me.”
But I have found, God is a gentlemen who most often comes after being invited. He is not a thief (no, He is not). He won’t take things that have long been ours. We must give Him, willingly, everything we have…if we want to walk and live, and experience true freedom.
Finally I felt strange, but I lifted my hands cupped, bent over and poured out, symbolizing all I had been carrying dumped out onto the feet of God.
And although I had heard of that being done…I never expected to feel different, I didn’t think the gut-wrenching pain of bitterness and offense would be lifted, instantly.
But then, He came.
And it was as if His yokes that is easy was exchanged for all I was carrying. I felt a peace, a freedom, in a way that hiding out in my car, or analyzing never gave me.
And not only that, but my mind seemed to clear immediately. It was beautiful, divine, and something mere words explaining, just won’t do.
Friends, if you are anything like me, every single day you can find something to be bitter about.
Someone lied, didn’t call. Someone hurt you, someone else said something that gripped you to the core.
We can be bitter that we were ignored or abused, that we didn’t get what we wanted, that we aren’t feeling good, or just don’t have what others do.
The list goes on and on about what we can be bitter about.
But today, I am reminded about what scripture teaches…
- Repent…and times of refreshing WILL come. (Acts 3:19)
- Though our sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow. (Isaiah 1:18)
- He is the one who blots out OUR sins and remembers them no more. (Isaiah 43:25-26)
- If we forgive others when they sin against us, He will forgive US. (Matthew 6:14-15)
And I don’t want Him to add up all my sins, I don’t want to be so offend-able that a little, two-year-old can trigger feelings of wanting to punch children in the face.
I want to be filled with grace and love. I want to be the reflection of the one who hung on the cross and whispered lovingly during unnecessary punishment,
“Lord forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)
Let’s give our offense to Jesus today. He died that we might be free from bitterness.
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