Want to be free from bitterness and resentment? It’s possible to heal from the pain and wounds through Christ. Learn how through this story of healing from Hadassah.
“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling, and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” – Ephesians 4:31-32 NIV
One of the most difficult things in life is to keep our hearts free from bitterness and resentment in relationships. We are all hurt people. And we also hurt people. It is especially difficult when we are hurt or betrayed by the closest people: parents, marriage partners, closest friends.
When the pain and hurt engulf us, it seems impossible to imagine that one day it will stop hurting and our hearts will be whole again. But by living yielded to God, we can get free from bitterness and resentment, and our hearts, and even the relationships, can thrive again. Here is an encouraging example from my journey to freedom from bitterness and resentment in the relationship with my father.
Traumas – Open Doors to Bitterness
My childhood and teenage years were not easy, living in a constant terror of my father. He used to terrorize us with his aggressive and abusing words and behavior. I learned early to suppress my real feelings, thoughts, and opinions in order to survive. I dreamed of the time when I would be an adult and leave the house of my parents, finally breaking free.
This time came, but unfortunately, I was not free. The deep wound that my father inflicted produced a bitter fruit and continued to poison my life. I harbored resentful, disrespectful, and hateful feelings towards him. I could not trust and respect men, and my identity was crippled by believing many of the things he said and did to me. I even struggled with suicidal thoughts.
Help from Above
In my most desperate time, God found me. I gave my life to Jesus when I was 17 years old. The truth that I have a heavenly Father who loves me unconditionally and who will never abuse me and control me, but instead support and encourage me till the end, was a fountain of life to me. It pulled me back from the edge of the pit I was about to throw myself and gave me meaning and a reason to live. But this was just the beginning.
Free from Bitterness and Resentment – the First Step
Years later, when I have already married and moved to another country, the Holy Spirit took me gently but firmly on a journey of freedom from bitterness and resentment. We started with the relationship with my father. The more I spent time every day in prayer and in God’s Word, the clearer the path to healing became.
The first step was forgiveness. For the first time, I realized that forgiveness is a process. I need to stay in forgiveness and choose forgiveness whenever resentful thoughts and feelings enter my mind. Next, forgiveness is concrete. Often, I was led back in my memories to write down the precise ways my father hurt me. Strengthened by God’s loving embrace, I was able to open these painful doors again, and then close them forever while acknowledging the hurt and the consequences.
Grieving and Emotional Healing
Still, although I released my father from his debt, sadness and pain did not disappear so fast. God was inviting me to grieve and mourn the losses I have experienced. With the help of the Psalms I could lament and find words to express not only painful and conflicting feelings, but also hope and trust in God as the Judge, Redeemer, and Vindicator of my suffering.
Strangely, I started to see my father with other eyes: as a person, who himself is a captive and in pain. My heart began to soften. God was healing my emotions. God’s love could flow now free in my heart and find its way out in the communication with my father. It was still difficult for me to maintain a relationship with him but the barrier of resentment from my side was gone.
Staying Free from Bitterness and Resentment
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1 NIV
I was free. And then the real challenge began – to maintain my new freedom. There were multiple occasions that tempted me to go back – a hurtful word, an inappropriate demand, or manipulative behavior. Staying yielded to God and asking constantly for His wisdom and strength is the path of life and freedom. My journey to peace with myself and my father continued with more milestones on the way, the last being my father asking forgiveness for everything he did.
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The Lessons from My Journey
Here are the most important lessons God thought me in the process of yielding to Him on the journey in getting and staying free from bitterness and resentment:
• Focusing on the hurt leads to bitterness and resentment; bitterness and resentment lead to the development of victim mentality; the victim mentality leads to wrong perceived identity; and this robs us of the joy, peace, and abundant life God has for us.
• Instead, when we choose continually to focus on God’s grace, transformative power, and the truth in His Word, we can let go of bitterness.
• Letting go of bitterness helps us to live not defined by our wounds and dysfunctions but by our true identity of called out, chosen and dearly loved children of God.
Friend, do you also want to get free from bitterness and resentment? You can overcome and thrive as an evergreen tree when you live yielded to God day by day, and moment by moment.