Don’t Let Bitterness Into Your Heart.
“Don’t let any bitterness in your heart overflow to your children, family and those around you.”
Philippians 3:7-8 (amplified) But whatever former things I had that might have been gains to me I have come to consider as [one combined] loss for Christ’s sake. Yes furthermore, I count everything as loss compared to the possession of the priceless privilege (the overwhelming preciousness, the surpassing worth and supreme advantage) of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord and of progressively becoming more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him [of perceiving and recognizing and understanding Him more fully and clearly}. For His sake I have lost everything and consider it all to be mere rubbish (refuse, dregs), in order that I may win (gain) Christ.
Paul looks at his past and compares it to the treasure of knowing Christ. On May 18th I was baptized into Christ. I want to tell you about the miracle that God did with my heart to help me look back on my past suffering and lead me to forgiveness of others and God’s forgiveness of me.
My earliest memories are of my mother continually abandoning me, leaving me and my sister with sometimes no one or with irresponsible people, some who brought us harm. I recall being hungry all the time. Mom would drop us off at the movies to get rid of us for the evening with no money for popcorn (and of course we were starving) and I remember never watching the movie just going up and down the aisles picking up popcorn off the floor to eat.
My parents were not together very long and when I was 8 I went to live with my dad. He loved us and cared for us until the next wife came along; she was jealous of us and treated us cruelly.
All I ever wanted to do in life when I was young was to please my dad and make him love me, but he let his wife hurt me over and over again. He never protected me. Instead of the abandonment of my mother and my dad loving me from a distance and never being there for me, I was now living with him and his new wife, Betty. If one of the kids did something wrong everyone got a spanking, how in the world do you deal with that??? I felt as if my world was falling apart. I had no one to talk to, no one to listen to me. Then a year later dad & Betty wanted to adopt me. In the mind of a 10/11 year old that means I would never see my mom again. This time I am abandoning her, although I didn’t even know that word. Then the judge came in and told Jan & I that we didn’t have to consent to the adoption. He had legal authority but I knew that my stepmother had the real authority, so I conceded and the adoption when through. I didn’t see my mother again until my 2nd year in high school when Jan got married.
Because of the abandonment issues, I was that “little girl” inside who never learned to read. When we moved to Phoenix the school realized this and put me into the “special ED” classes. I struggled in school all my life, reading, comprehension and math are all difficult to this day.
When I got married, mom tried to break up my marriage just like her mother did to her. My marriage was far from perfect because I brought so much baggage into it and I didn’t know how to cope with our relationship problems. Had I opened up to someone maybe I could have gotten help. My marriage ended after 42 years. It didn’t have to end this way had I known that there was healing, forgiveness and a God who is bigger than all our problems. He can heal the “little girl” inside of all of us today, if we will only yield to Him and allow Him to work.
I had to learn that mom is still in so much pain from her past that she still drinks every night to escape from it; that her childhood was a lot more traumatic than mine ever was. It has only been since Thanksgiving that God has brought me to a point of total forgiveness and compassion for her; we were speaking on the phone and she apologized to me, in the only way that she knew how to in a semi drunken stupor. She apologized for the things that she had done to me and I told her that it was alright that I too have done things to my children that I was ashamed of. I know that God has forgiven and healed the “little girl Brenda”.
This process was not easy or pain free, but worth the effort and reward of being free from the control that my past hurts had over me. Let me encourage those of you tonight who may have hidden hurts. Have the faith and make the effort to be freed from them. Don’t let any bitterness in your heart overflow to your children, family and those around you.
(Author’s name held upon request)
Philippians 3:13 (amplified) I do not consider, brethren, that I have captured and made it my own [yet]; but one thing I do [it is my one aspiration]: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead.