The Litmus Bitterness Test
How forgiving are you? Need to inject some kindness in your heart? Take this test to find out.
1) Your neighbor lets his dog poop on your yard, plays loud music every night, and lets his kids throw rocks at your brand new car. Later, the parents question why you haven’t been waving back lately. Do you unleash the wrath of hell upon them, or smile and pretend nothing is wrong?
2) Your spouse did something to tick you off-twenty years ago. Do you still remember every exact detail?
3) You have unresolved issues in your past. When’s the last time you forgave yourself?
Bitterness is you drinking poison, and expecting someone else to die. I heard this many years ago, but I haven’t always heeded that wise counsel.
For this Good Friday, it was time to change. Our neighbors have always treated my family like an unwanted step-child. After many attempts to connect, we always came up empty. Over the years, I cemented my heart and drank the poison that eventually led to the vicious hope of them dying. But they weren’t dying. I was.
Just like the puppy in the picture, I decided to go with head down to each neighbor and ask if I had offended them in any way. And if I had, “I wanted to apologize for being a jerk.”
Out of the four families, all accepted my apology-except one. The husband in the fourth family, despite his wife’s sincere tears, kept his jaws locked and his eyes aloof.
Right away, the vile drink of hate churned in my stomach. But I remembered the scripture in 1 Corinthians 6:7-Why not just accept the injustice and leave it at that? Why not let yourselves be cheated?
I did feel cheated. I had envisioned everyone would be open and forgiving too. But I would not guzzle down the bitter brew. What I truly realized is forgiveness has nothing to do with the other person’s acceptance. I took my leave. And I vowed in my heart to never let anything or anyone force me down that road again.
Grudges hold too many people hostage. Let your heart be unchained from the weight of bitterness. Tell us your story of forgiveness for this Good Friday in the comments below.