Something that I have always struggled with is not feeling heard or feeling misunderstood and when I don’t feel heard or feel misunderstood, I harbor resentments.
Thankfully, in the last several years, God has given me an awareness of this character flaw from being part of a couple of groups and counseling. Today, I am more likely to ask someone what they mean when I am at risk of harboring resentments from the interaction. This step has been freeing for me as it helps me understand and externalize, not internalize what I feel. One of the most important lessons I have learned by asking people what they mean is that the negative thinking in my head is just that, in my head. The other person didn’t have a problem with me.
Hebrews 12:14-15 is a reminder to me of the biblical truth of how bitterness is toxic to me and anyone I interact with and how the grace of God is sufficient. And without grace and living with bitterness, there is a severe consequence. That is, I won’t see God. The ESV version of Hebrews 12:14 includes the people I interact with not seeing God, either, when I don’t exhibit grace, which I certainly don’t want.
The AA Big Book Step 7 Prayer has helped me turn feelings of bitterness over to God.
I am now willing that you should have all of me, good and bad.
I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character which stands in the way of my usefulness to you and my fellows.
Grant me strength, as I go out from here, to do your bidding.
Amen.” (Step 7 Prayer, AA Big Book)
14 Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. 15 See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled;
Work at getting along with each other and with God. Otherwise, you’ll never get so much as a glimpse of God. Make sure no one gets left out of God’s generosity. Keep a sharp eye out for weeds of bitter discontent. A thistle or two gone to seed can ruin a whole garden in no time.