Win Today with Christopher Cook

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Why Bitterness is Too Expensive (and How to Get Free)

What you eat is important, but what’s eating you has more of an impact upon your overall wellness than you may realize. Toxic thoughts and emotions left unchecked are like foreign terrorists living comfortably within the borders of your mind, body, and spirit; terrorists you’re tolerating. Constant physiological stress exacerbated by bitterness is like a ransom note that will never be answered. It’s like poison you willingly choose to drink. It’s like staying locked in a dingy jail cell when you have the keys to freedom within your grip. Living with bitterness in your heart is exhausting, but the good news is that the keys to freedom are already in your hand. It’s time to turn the lock and break free. Are you ready?

What you may or may not know is that stress

1.) Compromises your health. A 1998 study conducted by Stanford Medical School and Dr. Bruce Lipton proposed that 95 percent of all illness and disease is linked to stress. Constant physiological stress taxes your cells and crushes your immune system. It’s different than circumstantial stress, which is a normal part of life (being stuck in traffic, unexpected bills, etc.). Undoubtedly, you’re familiar with the physical side effects of stress: a pounding headache, muscle aches, a back ache, and overall fatigue.

2.) Destroys the integrity of your relationships. Bitterness infuses skepticism, distrust, and cynicism into the core of your relationships, blurs healthy lines of communication, and breeds isolation.

3.) Steals your joy. Bitterness makes you irritable. You may not think you verbalize negativity to those around you, but your body language displays it as proudly as a championship trophy. Studies show that 85% of all communication of meaning is non-verbal. What are you “saying?”

4.) Lies to you. Bitterness tells you to stay bitter because you’re justified in your perspective and entitled to cling to your own defense. All the while, the person in whom you have offense is living their life in freedom, laughing, and getting a good night’s sleep. You may have a reason to be bitter, but you don’t have a right to stay bitter. Jesus died for your emotional freedom and provided peace that guards your heart and mind. You were created with a unique purpose and bitterness cripples your ability to fully walk in it.

5.) Causes depression. After chugging liter after liter of ice cold bitterness, you risk sinking into depression. Without addressing the core issues, depression can turn into despair and despair into hopelessness. When that happens, your personal sense of purpose and significance is greatly diminished.

My Story

A few years ago, I had to come face-to-face with bitterness and make a choice for my own well-being. Six years before that time, I had been publicly humiliated by someone I thought I could trust. The experience was numbing. Being disarmed, disqualified, and embarrassed in front of people I loved literally shook me to the core. The devastation left me waking up with headaches and an upset stomach most days. Frustrated and hurt, I let the pain take root. Was the injustice and associated pain legitimate? Absolutely. As I mentioned earlier, I had a reason to be bitter, but I didn’t have a right to be bitter. For a while, I fed off of the emotional payoff of staying upset. As it turns out, it wasn’t payoff. It was poison. When I realized this, I knew the choice was mine. Would I apprehend the finished work of Jesus for my own life? Would I partner with the Holy Spirit for healing or live as a victim of the circumstance? You see, victors stand up in any trial. It may take time, but they do eventually stand up. I’m glad I stood up.

5 Keys to Walking Out of Bitterness and into Freedom

1.) Deal with it head-on. Pick up the phone, write the letter, or meet for coffee. If it isn’t possible (or healthy) for the relationship to continue because of the need to set appropriate boundaries, that’s okay. It’s about getting back to mutual respect, wholeness, as well as reinvigorating your spiritual, emotional, and mental health.

2.) Don’t let one thought go unchecked. This is especially important when you’re hurting. In 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 (Amplified), the Apostle Paul declares, “For the weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood], but they are mighty before God for the overthrow and destruction of strongholds, [Inasmuch as we] refute arguments and theories and reasonings and every proud and lofty thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God; and we lead every thought and purpose away captive into the obedience of Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One)…” There are so many times you have a reason to think and believe something, but it doesn’t mean you should. You don’t have to actively think about every thought that drops in your head. Deal with it before it settles into your subconscious mind. If you struggle with your thought life, seek counsel from a trusted friend or mentor.

3.) Forgive. Seek forgiveness for holding onto offense. As we have been forgiven much, we’re required to forgive others. Ask God to give you the strength to forgive. Forgiveness releases toxins. A boat with holes creates leaks, and if they’re not fixed quickly, the boat will eventually sink. Forgiveness is like mending the holes. Do it for yourself. Forgive and get back to life on purpose.

4.) Commit to the process. Freedom may not come right away, but that doesn’t mean you’re trapped. If you slip into a pattern of being offended again, recognize it and deal with it immediately, but don’t quit and think, “it must not be possible for me.” That’s a lie!

5.) Stay accountable to a friend or mentor. Accountability is such a vital necessity in life. We all have blind-spots and need help in those areas. Yet, accountability has another component: it reminds us of who we are and what we were born to do. It accounts for our ability and points to our potential.

If you’re holding onto bitterness today, choose to burn the ransom notes. Your time for freedom has come.

Question: Which strategies for emotional healing work best for you?

Photo Credit: puffclinty via Compfight cc

  • Lyn

    This is beautiful and timely. Thank you, Chris! ♥ ♥ ♥