Choosing Forgiveness Over Bitterness and Resentment

How do you let go of anger and resentment when you’ve been wronged? Choosing forgiveness over bitterness and resentment is a difficult task to do. It’s not an easy journey. However, it is a journey worth taking. If you don’t deal with your bitterness, anger, and resentment, you’ll never be able to forgive the person who offended you. 

Ask yourself–How do I let go of anger and resentment?

The effort you are putting into answer the question means that you will find it and follow-through. The question is, will you do it now or will you wait a while and keep suffering. 

Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies. Nelson Mandela. 

That’s funny. But, holding on to resentment kills you slowly and not the other person. And, it’s easy for other people to tell you to forgive. Forgiving that person that hurt you can be done, you have to develop a belief system that you are simply better than that person that hurt you. 

Yes, I said, “Better than that person that hurt you.”

We’re human. We all have a need to feel significant and certain. Out of feeling uncertain or insignificant, people really do stupid things. It takes to people to tango. 

“No matter how thin you slice it, there will always be two sides.” ― Spinoza

Even in my own experiences, I’ve learned if a relationship doesn’t work, it doesn’t mean that that person is horrible. Yes, they did something to hurt or harm me. But, they didn’t do it to hurt me. They did it because they felt insecure or we’re starving for love or they didn’t feel like they were important enough to me. They did it for a variety of reasons. 

But, I had to move on and forgive. Above all, you have to forgive yourself for allowing that person to hold you hostage to an action that has caused you pain. 

In short, the anger is hurting you more than it’s hurting them.

When the Lord gave this word bitter and resentment, I was a little hesitant about discussing it. My first thoughts were–“Lord, I’m not bitter and I don’t resent anyone or thing that has happened to me. I have forgiven everyone I can think of. So, I’m good, Lord.”

I desired to search my soul, so I asked myself a couple of questions to set a mirror before me. 

Do you feel bitter when others are promoted and you are not recognized? What about a friend starting their own business and you’re stuck with doing the same “ole” thing daily. Do you feel envy when you see your friends with their romantic partners feeling happy in their relationship and you’re never able to post pictures on social media to brag about your love with your significant other? Do you feel like your friends never pay attention to you when you’re out and notice how nice your hair looks or the outfit you’ve chosen for the even?  

Luckily, I answered unselfishly no to all of the above. Despite being able to answer those questions, I have been in a place where I’ve felt bitter. On the contrary, I knew what was happening to my mind and my heart Also, I knew where the devil was trying to lead me, so I cut it off. 

Consequently, I did it through a lot of prayers. I’m not saying prayer was easy; it helped me bounce back so I could land on my feet again. 

Bitterness is such an embarrassing word. No one wants to admit or believe that walk-in bitterness. And, it’s more than someone making you mad and you’re upset with them a couple of days. Bitterness is extensive. Like, really extensive.

Bitterness deals with the history, the wrong decisions we’ve made, the life we’ve missed out on, living our life to fulfill the dreams of someone else, and dealing with the painful setbacks that hinder us from a joyous future. 

As you know, I love quotes, and this particular quote says it all. 

“Regret comes in four tones that operate in unison to shape our lives. First, we regret the life that we lived, the decisions we made, the words we said in anger, and enduring the shame wrought from experiencing painful failures in work and love. Secondly, we regret the life we did not live, the opportunities missed, the adventures postponed indefinitely, and the failure to become someone else other than whom we now are.

American author Shannon L. Alder said, ‘One of the greatest regrets in life is being what others would want you to be, rather than being yourself.’ Third, we regret that parts of our lives are over; we hang onto nostalgic feelings for the past. When we were young and happy, everything was new, and we had not yet encountered hardship.

As we age and encounter painful setbacks, we experience disillusionment and can no longer envision a joyous future. Fourth, we experience bitterness because the world did not prove to be what we hoped or expected it would be.” ― Kilroy J. Oldster,

Bitterness is usually associated with anger and grudges. It starts small. Bitterness is sown in our hearts when we replay a situation over-and-over in our minds. It becomes deep-seated when we retell our hurts to any available listener, including the tiniest details that cut us to the core. 

Furthermore, we enlist the support of others that will endorse our hurt, pushing us further into our resentment. And, whenever, the offending person’s name is heard. We cringe. 

Bitterness thrives on sympathy. And often, in telling our story to others, we stop telling the truth to ourselves about what really happened and what is truly upsetting us.

A good case in point. You’ve been invited to a gathering at a close friend’s house and everything is good until that certain person knocks on the door and enters the room. All of a sudden, you feel sick to your stomach. You develop a light-headache so you rush off to the restroom to try and compose yourself. No matter what you do. The air in the room between you two is different and downright noticeable. 

Also, if you have enlisted other supporters, they know that you both are struggling with some real issues you both dare to deal with. Therefore, bitterness keeps you both trapped in a place of anger and the grudge continues until you meet again. 

We can fool ourselves into thinking no one knows, but anger and resentment have a way of seeping into everything. You can’t hide it no matter how hard you try. Resentment is like a stain you get on your best blouse. No matter how times you wash and apply “spray-n-wash” to remove the stain. That big-ole oil stain is still smack-dab in the middle of your blouse.

Well! This is where the rubber meets the road.

To interrupt bitterness and resentment, you have to confess you’re bitter about some stuff. You can’t leave the gathering believing things will get better. Or, you will never have to deal with that person or issue again. Yes, you will. You going to have to get that person in a room with you (literally, if you can) and have a real conversation. 

Bitterness can be really touchy-feely. Sometimes it’s difficult finding out why you feel the way that you do. In most cases, you’ll know because you’re either telling the story to those who can help you, or because you are trying to find new ways to deal with your situation. But, if you’re telling the story again and again, in a negative way to keep you stuck in victimhood, you want sympathy. Not help. 

Many bitter people know they had a part in what took place, but are too ashamed to admit to it. Acknowledging bitterness is hard to do. Bitterness is a hard thing for anyone to get over, and sometimes the strongest thing you can do is admit you need help. 

To avoid situations as though they never happen, is a weakness. 

While it might be true you can’t change what happened that has left you bitter — you can’t undo it if you were in an accident, or get back the promotion that your colleague won instead — you can take action to move forward in your life and away from bitterness.

The truth is. Choosing forgiveness over bitterness and resentment can be quite a battle to move on from. And, sometimes the easiest way forward is to seek help. 

It wouldn’t be right if I didn’t give you scriptures to echo how God wants us to deal with anger in our every day lives. Yet, bitterness is a very valid emotion that many of us struggle with at various points in our lives. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be aiming to minimize it.

What Does Scripture Say About Bitterness, Resentment, and Anger?

“Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many” (Hebrews 12:14,15).

“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).

“When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:23).

“Jesus said, Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing…” (Luke 23:34).

“For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matthew 6:14,15).

“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud or conceited, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.

On the contrary: ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:14-21).

Scripture references are taken from the New American Standard translation of the Bible.

6 Ways for Moving Forward and Choosing Forgiveness Over Bitterness and Resentment.

Remove Your From the Situation:

If we revisit the hurt we’ve encountered every day, we never allow ourselves the opportunity to consider the situation at a different angle because we’re so caught up in our own emotions. Give yourself some breathing space. 

Journaling: 

Some people find it difficult to process emotions in their minds. I encouraging writing your thoughts and emotions down. This is a great way to process any situation. It also allows you a way to relax so you can write as much or as less as you. It helps you to focus on what’s upsetting you and how to approach the situation over time. 

Talk Through Your Situation With A Trusted Friend:

This can be difficult for many of us because we may find ourselves diverting from the issue at hand, and the pain we’ve suffered remains the topic of discussion. Be honest with yourself, no matter how bad it hurts. Hiding things away from yourself makes you feel like they are no longer present. Denying those feelings of bitterness and resentment makes them even worse because the sense of shame or guilt around them simply grows. Talking out loud to others helps you to confront your emotions. 

Refocus with Mediation:

By having some time to yourself each day, you can check in with how you feel. Feelings of bitterness tend to become overwhelming thinking about the hurt committed against you. Therefore, use meditation as a tool to explore your inner mind. You will feel better each day after you spend time meditating and slowing down. 

Confronting Your Offender: 

Remember, the confrontation should not be done through aggression and rage-fuelled. It should be a healthy process that allows you to explain how you feel and, ideally, to help you gain closure. Afterward, talk about the next steps to keep boundaries clear between both of you. 

Monitoring Your Feelings: 

Consider how you react to different situations as you move forward, and what triggers your feelings of bitterness. Why is it that you immediately jump to these feelings of bitterness? Why do you struggle with some emotions more than others? What role have you played in how you feel? Show yourself some respect and allow yourself to process the feelings behind what’s going on so you don’t keep get yourself on a roller coaster.

In closing, As You Pray…

Pray in this manner:

Father, I acknowledge that I’ve held resentment and bitterness against _______________. I confess this as sin and ask you to forgive me. I forgive __________________. Remind me, Lord, to not hold any more resentments, but rather to love this person. Father, I ask you to also forgive ______________________.

Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

If you prayed that prayer, please let us know. You can call our National Prayer Center at (800) 823-6053. We would love to talk with you and send you some literature to help you continue in your walk with the Lord. For more information, visit https://www1.cbn.com/teachingsheets/bible-bitterness-and-resentment

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