I grew up as a little girl without a father. My dad divorced my mom and moved back to California when I was just one year old. As a little girl, I didn’t realize what I was missing nor did I realize how this was going to affect me later in life. As I grew older, resentment and bitterness toward my dad began to creep in. And although there were many instances that I wanted to build a relationship with him, it just never worked out. I would travel to him (by choice) for my summer breaks just to try and build a relationship and each summer ended in a huge blow-up that usually made me hate him even more. Our relationship struggled throughout my teenage and young adult years till I realized our relationship just couldn’t move forward. I stopped calling.
It wasn’t until my mom was on her deathbed at my young age of 26 that her request changed me forever. She lovingly, yet forcefully asked me to accept that if my dad called for me for any reason that I would go to him. I reluctantly agreed.
Soon after my mom’s funeral, I began replaying things in my mind, asking myself crazy questions. One after another; and I had a lot of questions. But there was one scenario that caused me great distress. What if he called? What if he was dying and wanted to see me? Was I genuinely going to be able to be by his side as my mom requested? What would I say? The struggle that existed on the inside of me was a root of bitterness and a lack of forgiveness toward my dad. It’s presence was now affecting other areas and relationships in my life.
A lack of forgiveness or a root of bitterness is the single most used “poison” against people today. I heard Joyce Meyer say one time, “Bitterness is like drinking a bottle of poison and expecting the other person to die.” In Hebrews 12:14-15 it says, “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled;
A root of bitterness is a bitter root producing bitter fruits to themselves and others. It produces corrupt principles, which will ultimately lead to departing from what you know to be truth. A simpler way to understand this is it changes your perception. You become tainted, you lean a certain direction because of past hurts or experiences and it ultimately affects others.
A root of bitterness actually strengthens and digs deeper when you are wronged and yet continues to grow with each passing situation, life experience or relationship. Its corrupt practices grow worse and worse till the individual becomes physically sick, finds themselves in a deep depression or on the positive side chooses to forgive and removes the root altogether. Individuals that carry a root of bitterness struggle with having true peace because they are always troubled by something, someone or worse yet producing more bitter fruit for any new people they come in contact with. I think the saddest statement in that scripture is “and by this many become defiled.” Many are tainted with this poisonous venom, and are now growing roots all their own. In some cases people are completely oblivious to the roots existence. I was with my dad, but nonetheless, my marriage and friendships showed affects of this root – although subtle, it existed.
In order to prevent a root of bitterness, you must be able to forgive, to grant a pardon, or to recognize that people aren’t perfect and cease any resentment toward them. Even while they are still hurting you! You must be able to see the good in people, regardless of what behavior they have or are displaying. In fact, when Jesus was asked how many times should you forgive someone, He responded with seventy times seven. In other words, all the time. Now everybody knows that there are just some people…
and yet for us, they all need forgiven.
My dad passed away in 2007, and I found out through Googling his name and seeing a death date in 2010. He never called for me. But if he had, I would’ve gone, I would have loved him and released him of anything he might have been carrying through the years. I have learned that when you are able to love someone and see the good in them regardless of how they may have hurt you, you are actually seeing them through the eyes of God. It is for our own benefit, that we learn to release the hurt and prevent the root of bitterness from taking up residence.
The Bible says to love your neighbor and love your enemies. According to G.K. Chesterton it’s because they are generally the same people.