My tired and overwhelmed body had just two boxes left to unpack. I was so thankful they were tiny. Written on them in my handwriting, read, “Framed Photos”. Not giving any thought to the contents inside, I opened them up.
Each small frame I took out displayed a photo of a small face. Photos I hadn’t seen in years. One photo was of me and Eric as newlyweds- so happy and not a care in the world. Other photos were of my sons when they were babies and toddlers. And now they are 14 and 15 years old.
My life and their life flashed before my eyes when I saw those photos. I packed that box back in 2009 and haven’t unpacked it until now. Back then my life was in full blown financial ruin and I was on the road to cancer. It was a tough time with tougher memories.
The trials have come to an end but the memories are still there.
As the unexpected tears welled up in my eyes, I mourned our losses. The loss of my health, the loss of our time, the loss of our home and business, the loss of relationships, the loss of our dreams.
I was emotionally overwhelmed with what I saw. Those photos represented years of walking through what seemed like a desert wasteland of my life.
The memories of all my health treatments flooded my mind. The pain and the suffering.
All the years of uncertainty coupled with fear as I looked out toward our future. The moving and packing and moving again.
Hot tears flooded my eyes and ran down my cheeks….
And the negative emotions filled my mind.
Ms. Bitterness and Hard-Heart were camping outside at the door of my heart waiting for me to invite them in. And I could hear Ms. Angry and Self-Pity chattin’ right behind them. The four of them were beckoning me to welcome them into my soul.
I didn’t fight back the tears when I saw the photos, and I’m not fighting them back now as I share this story with you because honestly, I have bigger battles to fight, namely, my sin.
The sin of bitterness, a hard-heart, anger, and self-pity. These are all emotions that do nothing for me or for the body of Christ. And because I was made by Him and for Him, I need to deal with my feelings and move on because the Lord wants to use me.
Of course it is okay to mourn loss, but for me to welcome harmful emotions to take root in my heart is like putting out a welcome mat that says, “Satan, please deprive my soul of all future joy and hope.”
Now, I don’t know about you, but this is not the type of Christian woman I want to become. I don’t want to live life in a defeated state and I don’t want to live life without purpose.
If you know grief like I do, we’re in good company because Jesus knew grief, too.
He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. Isaiah 53:3
Now, if you and I were sitting across from one another at a table chatting, I would speak these words to your soul…
You are not alone in your pain. You may feel alone, but you’re not. Jesus is with you. Walking with you. And He’ll never leave your side.
Christ will take your mess and turn it into a masterpiece. Just let go of the control and fear and let Him lead you.
For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland. Isaiah 43:19 (NLT)
5 Biblical Essentials to Protect Your Heart from Growing Bitter
1. Hold on to hope.
God knows your pain, after all, He is the one allowing it in your life. Don’t rule Him out of your situation. It is in His nature to do miracles. Watch and wait for the miracles to unfold.
But I will hope continually, And will praise You yet more and more. Psalm 71:14
2. Cling to joy.
It’s easy to experience joy when life is smooth sailing and peachy keen. But when it’s not, you’ve got to seek out joy and the only place you’ll find it is by abiding in Christ.
But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You; Let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them; Let those also who love Your name be joyful in You. Psalm 5:11
3. Be a vessel that He can use so you can pour out into the lives of others.
A self-centered vessel doesn’t do much good for the Kingdom of God. And if you, the vessel, happen to pour out tears in the process, that’s okay. Your tears show that you’re a real human being. Others can relate to your hurting heart.
But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. Acts 9:15
4. Speak the Word of God into your own soul and into the souls of others.
Scripture soothes a sorrowful or fearful soul, and it magnifies the Lord in the process.
5. Who are you here for? Who do you live for?
Ask yourself these questions everyday and they will determine your focus and priorities. Your answers will determine your heart motive and your heart motive will determine whether or not you’ll give bitterness a place to reside in your soul.
Lift His name even in the midst of your pain. When you do this, your heart (emotions) won’t have time to feed on the weed of bitterness.
Trials are designed to make us better not bitter. Being that God is a gentleman, He gives you and I free will in which path to take. Choose wisely, saint. Choose wisely.
Live a poured out life for Christ,