Today’s post comes from a very dear friend and prayer partner, Elaine Stock. Ephesians 4:31 tells us to “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior.” I believe there are two reasons for this (if not more). Bitterness taints our witness for Christ, but more than that it–it holds us in bondage. Christ died to set us free. Don’t allow a painful past keep you from experiencing the freedom He’s offered.
You’re 17 and live with your dad in Troy, New York. He drinks. You sneak behind his back with his ATM card. He confronts you. He yells. You yell. He threatens to kill you and then himself. You plead with him not to. He pulls out his gun. Says the only way out is for you to shoot him instead of him killing you. You cry no. He says do it. You aim for his head. You pull the trigger. You’re arrested.
I wish I were pondering this scenario for a new plot. This is not fiction, though. It recently happened. But while the sensation is playing out across local TV news coverage and local newspapers, all I can think about is what has happened in this girl’s life to lead up to such a horrific event, and what will happen for the rest of her life? She’s a girl; not even a woman. Has she known Jesus as her personal Savior and loving Father, feeling His unconditional love, a love that would never push her up a brick wall like this? Will she ever be able to forgive her human father for this awful bind? Will she ever be able to forgive herself for her actions? Will she turn bitter toward others, figuring no one is worthy of her love?
Please do not misunderstand me. I make no condemnation toward this girl. It is not my role.
However, I do understand about forgiveness. And bitterness. Life is rough. I never asked to be a daughter of a schizophrenic mother, or a daughter of a hard-working father who was away from home more than not. Or, a wannabe writer still striving for publication past the glamorous age of thirty-five.
And, I’m an American. Shouldn’t my husband and I have two homes, 2.9 children, brand new cars in the driveway to take me to my high-paying executive career in some posh office because of course Americans never get their hands dirty working in—gasp—the food industry business?
Having experienced some of the things I have I could be really sour, but I’m not. Why? Because God loves me and I love Him. Sure, I have my moments … hours of downtimes. Yet, it all comes back to believing in God. As I’ve said often to friends, if it weren’t for my belief in God I’d never get out of bed each morning.
These past handful of years have presented me with a few other unexpected kinks to detangle. It was just a matter of a few weeks past that I realized I needed to let go of grudges, disappointments, and bitterness a wee more. Sure, these are human emotions, but lingering in this pit of muck serves no purpose. It takes me away from God. It pulls me away from what He wants me to offer others: His light and love.
But what about this 17 year-old-girl who killed her father? Please pray for her, all those who struggle daily with disappointments, sorrows, bitterness, and deeds gone wrong.
And what about you? Are you letting go of the bumps in your life? Are you, instead, clinging onto God’s loving hand?
Elaine Stock never expected that a college major in psychology and sociology would walk her through the see-saw industries of food service and the weight-loss business; co-ownership with her husband in piano restoration; and ten years in community leadership. All great fodder for creating fiction.
Elaine’s blog, Everyone’s Story has been graced by an awesome international viewership. Everyone’s Story hosts weekly interviews and reflections aiming to uplift the spirits of writers, readers, and all those in-between.
A former RWA member, she has presented writing workshops. Presently involved in ACFW, she was a 2011 semi-finalist in the prestigious Genesis Contest in the contemporary fiction division. She would enjoy making new connections on Twitter and Facebook. Her first short story was published on Christian Fiction Online Magazine.
With her own childhood void of God, and becoming a Christian first in her twenties, she hopes her writing will bring His love to many and show how His light shines in troubled relationships.
Join us at Living by Grace as we talk about getting rid of all anger and bitterness as we cling to the hope that doesn’t disappoint.
This doesn’t come easy. I often use the term “fighting for forgiveness” because emotions can be unpredictable and intense. But I don’t believe God would give us a command if it weren’t possible–through and in Him.
On our own, I’m not sure we can do it. But through Christ who strengthens us, we can do all things.