bitterness vs. disappointment

It’s a choice I have. One or the other.

“Bitterness” reveals where my hope came from. If I remain bitter, I’m holding a grudge, having a tantrum, bathing in self-pity. It reveals my hope was in a circumstance – some concept I dreamt up. It is full-of-pride, U-G-L-Y.

But today I learned there is a difference between “bitterness” and “disappointment”.  It is truly possible to be disappointed, and yet NOT become bitter!  Probably seems pretty elementary, but I do believe I lumped them both into the same category for far too long.

It has to do with Whom I am lamenting to… When I cry to man (which includes myself), I become bitter and self-righteous.  When I cry to my Father, light is shed onto the narrow path of “accepting change” because He knows a better way.  And I don’t need to know why, I just need to trust and obey. <Psalm 119:105, Proverbs 3:5-6>

Change is hard.  Unexpected change is even harder.     

Here are just a few things His light has made visible to me today:

Just because I have the vehicle, it doesn’t mean I can make the trip.  If the vehicle malfunctions, the trip isn’t possible. If my hope is in the vehicle, I will be bitter…

Just because I have the funds to participate in an activity, it doesn’t mean they’ll get spent on that activity. If my hope is in the activity, I will be bitter if the funds are spent on something else…

Just because I’ve prepared to be absent, it doesn’t mean I won’t still be here.  If my hope is in being away, I will be bitter if I cannot go.

Just because I’ve done my homework, it doesn’t mean there won’t be hiccups.  If my hope is in my efforts, I will be bitter with anything less than perfect.

Just because help is offered, it doesn’t mean it can be accepted.  If my hope is in an alternate plan, I will be bitter if that plan doesn’t work either.

Just because I can’t go where I want, it doesn’t mean I’m not where He wants me.  If my hope is in the journey, I will be bitter about my life.  IF MY HOPE IS IN THE LORD, MY JOURNEY IS WHERE HE IS, AND SINCE I AM NOW HIS CHILD, HE RESIDES INSIDE ME. SO WHERE I AM, SO IS HE.  BITTERNESS G-O-N-E!!!  <1 Corinthians 3:11, Galatians 2:20>

Just because I feel disappointed, it doesn’t mean I can’t mourn the loss of whatever it was.  It just means I must learn how to mourn in a way that reveals Who my TRUE HOPE is in.  <2 Corinthians 4:15-18> And herein lies the lesson for me:  If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that. <James 4:13-15>

I think I need to say that again:  If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that. <sigh>

OUCH.

Not a fun revelation, but a necessary lesson.

Lord, I come before You with tears of both disappointment and joy.  My heart aches for the trip we couldn’t make today, but I am so thankful we arrived back home safely and weren’t stranded in this bitter cold.  I’m grateful we have those funds now to put toward fixing our vehicle.  Lord, You know the efforts that were put into preparing to be gone from here – You will use that “fruit” to sustain us a future day, just not the one I thought it was for!  You are teaching me how to find joy in each moment, instead of “what’s next”.  I’m now one step closer to living contentedly – the way You want me to live.  These growing pains hurt, Lord, but I find comfort in You, and You alone.  You have surrounded us with so many who love us – just their willingness to help has been so encouraging, and we thank You for their support.  And Father, there are not sufficient words to explain the beauty of watching our sons handle today’s disappointment.  Their compassion and lack of resentment has revealed a maturity in them that we haven’t seen before.  And witnessing that growth is pulling us all closer together.  Together we mourned the loss of “our plan”, and now the conversion of our will to Yours, begins.  May this serve to motivate me to persevere in “living and doing this or that”.  May my faith be unshaken.

I now know why You led me to meditate on these three passages yesterday – You were preparing me for re-aligning my Hope today so that there is no room for bitterness in me:  The end of all things is near.  Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. (1 Peter 4:7)  Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. (1 Peter 5:8-9)  Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, FIX YOUR THOUGHTS ON JESUS… (Hebrews 3:1a) 

 

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