Words of Hope: Drinking Poison 

My husband Shann and I have been discussing bitterness. It’s a deceptive emotion and incredibly dangerous. Most people struggle to notice they are bitter because they have lived with their bitter emotion for so long that it has built up slowly. Noticing bitterness usually requires a beloved other to say, “You seem bitter.”  Bitterness becomes easy to recognize when you notice a few telltale signs.   

First, how does this person tell stories? If my stories about someone else are sardonic or negative, bitterness is present. If I describe an argument or quarrel I have had with someone in a way that shows I am a perfect angel and the other person as impossible, evil, or difficult, there is bitterness. If the person doesn’t have the right emotion for the moment such as no tears in sorrow, no laughter or happiness in joy, or a flat or stunted affect, there is a root of bitterness.

Our conversations reveal our interior lives. The problem with bitterness is that it is one of the most toxic emotions that burrows into the fabric of our bodies. The Mayo Clinic considers bitterness a poison, influencing the rise of major disease. If we can’t tell we are bitter, we need to listen to our mentors to help us search this out. Bitterness cannot be wished or ignored away. Though we may not “feel” its effect, our body keeps the score.  

See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. – Hebrews 12:15