I have been through many experiences in my lifetime that have had the potential to shut me down completely, and not just in a physical sense, but very much in a spiritual and emotional way. Often, I would write in my journal to help me cope with all the losses, and this is one of the poems I wrote when I knew that my marriage would end in a divorce.
Often I shout out indignation,
At the neglect of his obligations.
My flesh cries, “Vengeance, it must be mine,”
But His Spirit says, “Take the plank from your eye.”
Forgiveness and mercy become my deep sorrow;
The despair of today may be vanished tomorrow.
For now I must sort out my contrary thinking,
Judgment’s not mine, when he’s been drinking.
For deep inside the chambers of my heart,
God’s Spirit resides to set me apart.
He teaches me that we are all children of the King
And I must never be the one to do the punishing.
Today is one moment in the spectrum of time
If I will not let go and let love rule my mind,
Then I’ll pay the price in guilt and in shame.
If bitter roots grow, I’ll have no one to blame.
When I took this photo while hiking a trail in Acadia National Park, it made me think of this scripture from Hebrews 12:15, which says, “See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springs up and causes trouble, and through it many become defiled.” I thought about how easy it is to succumb to our own bitterness in this world filled with pain, disappointment, heartache and sorrow. The roots of the tree are growing horizontally across the surface of the soil, trying to grab hold of something solid.
People are just like this root system when they become bitter about something. Their lives become very tangled and twisted, and the roots of anger, unforgiveness, and hatred grow rapidly under the surface where others cannot see. The root grows deeper when people cannot let go of the pain, nor can they forget it. The painful scenarios play over and over again throughout their thoughts. Eventually the root will defile them and cause others around them to no longer enjoy their presence. These roots grow long and become deeply ingrained into their character, and they become attached to the heart where only God can see and heal
Sometimes we don’t even realize that we have a bitter root inside of us. Recently, I bumped into a person who once treated me very unethically. I truly thought I had already forgiven this person and had released the anger and pain their actions had caused me, but when I saw the person, I immediately knew I still had bitterness inside of me because it rose up from within me swiftly and brought all the bad memories to the surface. I wanted to get away as fast as I could because I knew that I had never truly let go of that pain. Roots can run very deep down inside of us, and they can really “trip us up” and cause our relationship with the Lord to become affected. When you hike a trail like this, you need to be very careful of your footing. One wrong step and you can fall down and break a bone very quickly.
Whether it’s a failed marriage, declining health, job loss, a traumatic experience from your past, or even the death of a loved one, we are all vulnerable to bitterness. It’s similar to biting into something that has a bitter, acrid, and unpleasant flavor; the taste of it is hard to get out of your mouth. So, the same is true for an unpleasant and painful experience; sometimes it is very hard to get it out of your mind, so we bottle up the emotions and feelings deep inside where no other can see. This is when the enemy of our soul can really gain access into your life, and drive you away from God. Sometimes the bitter root inside of us blames God for the actions of other people, or our own misunderstanding of His character and His love for us.
So we have a choice to make. We can either allow ourselves to become bitter, which will defile our life and others around us, or we can allow God to heal us and help us to become healthy, joyful people who learn to forgive and love others despite what they have done. Thankfully, in my experience, God’s perfect love rooted out all the painful roots that could have poisoned me forever! Praise God from whom all blessings flow! I am forever grateful to Him!