The Cup of Bitterness

Bitterness is like a cancer that eats away at your heart and infects others. Good character builds strong relationships. But a root of bitterness destroys them. In this video we look at the effects of bitterness and the two levels of forgiveness.

5 thoughts on “The Cup of Bitterness

  1. But is it ever that simple, Sheriff Nash? Level 1 forgiveness I understand, but the level 2 you described often requires time to heal and move on, depending on the offense. Now, I can’t speak from a perspective within law enforcement, never having worked there, but elsewhere in our personal relationships forgiveness often does (and perhaps should) require effort on the part of the forgiven.

    Bitterness isn’t something most of us take on willingly or even knowingly. Some of us resisted it mightily, and yet it seeped in and poisoned our being, as you said. And just as it can be difficult to remain free of bitterness initially, it’s doubly hard to rid of it once it’s there, inside our hearts. I do agree with you that bitterness can act as a cancer that eats a person alive and in no way helps in making amends, but how does one ‘purge’ him/herself of bitterness once it’s taken hold? And what if the bitterness was well-deserved and earned? What if the person you feel bitterness toward deserves to be regarded as a threat to avoid?

    And what if your bitterness isn’t toward someone but instead something, like the change in police dynamics as a whole, say for someone who became a law officer decades ago and have witnessed much change they no longer are able to comprehend and cope with?

    I remain perplexed on the topic of bitterness and forgiveness and will give it much thought in the future.

    • Byenia:

      First of all, I appreciate your thoughtful comments and questions. This is just the kind of interaction on this site I was hoping for.

      Secondly, you are absolutely right about Level 2 forgiveness. Level 1 is hard enough, but Level 2 is extraordinarily difficult. I know I am still harboring some bitterness because of hurts my family and I received during some brutal election campaigns. But part of the healing process is to recognize that the bitterness is there – just like you must diagnose a cancer before you can treat it.

      The one thing to keep in mind is that forgiveness does not relieve consequences. Forgiveness and pardon are two different things. Forgiveness is about restoring relationships and freeing you of bitterness. It has little to do with consequences.

      I used to struggle with communicating this concept to my children. If they did something worthy of punishment, I might put them on restriction. Often they would come to me with a very contrite spirit and ask for forgiveness, which I granted to them, of course. Then they would immediately ask for the restriction to be lifted. It was hard to explain to them why forgiveness and consequences were different concepts.

      One of the consequences of an offense might be a permanent loss of trust, or an unwillingness to associate with someone. Or it could be some serious disciplinary or legal sanction. But granting forgiveness frees you of the consequences in your own heart. It may or may not restore the relationship but it is a necessary first step.

      Another problem as I see it is that sometimes the person you might be holding bitterness toward is not even around any more. Perhaps they are a long distance away or even deceased. In that case, you only have two choices: level 2 forgiveness or continuing to nurture a root of bitterness.

      And to answer your initial question, I think it IS simple but is far from easy…!

      I think this might be a great topic for a future video. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to explore this concept in more detail…

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