Only one letter is different in these two words, but the definitions of them could not be more opposite. One letter is the difference between something that characterizes you as negative, angry, and distrusting, or someone who is positive, peaceful, and full of joy. One letter is the difference between allowing someone to hold their power over you, or you walking in freedom, happiness, and peace. Better verses bitter. Which one do you choose?
Living in your purpose is going to REQUIRE that you choose the “E” over the “I.” Experiencing true happiness is going to mean that you’re dedicated to betterment and not bitterness. Here’s what I’ve learned though. I have crossed paths with many people who hold onto bitterness but have no idea that’s what they’re doing. And let’s be honest, I don’t care how many degrees you have behind your name, how many self-help books you have read, or how much Jesus you have in your life, you can’t just walk up to someone and tell them they’re bitter. (Not without a fight anyway.) So how can we live a life of betterment or be an example to those who choose bitterness over betterment? We work on ourselves.
Deception. Divorce. Illness. Betrayal. Loss of a job. Infertility. Racism. Discrimination. Financial Problems. Politics. Death. These are just some of the things that can leave us with a feeling of bitterness. And these are by no means small in nature. I’m sure you can pick out at least three, if not more, of these that have impacted your life in some shape or form. I certainly can!
We all experience feelings of bitterness and in case you didn’t know…it’s absolutely okay to feel that emotion. Do you know why? Because you’re human. I’ve been there. Divorce. Check! Infertility. Check. Betrayal. Double Check!! Through personal experience (and a little bit of education) what I’ve learned is what you don’t want is to stay in that place and allow it to define who you are as a person. Too often that happens to people. And do you know how that happens? By sweeping with no dustpan.
Sweeping with no dustpan means you have to hide the dirt somewhere and the place to do that is under that beautiful rug in your home.
Job loss. Sweep sweep. (Got a new job but not one you want so you’ll deal with the anger later.)
A pile of past due notices for bills you can’t pay. Sweep sweep. (You’ll just pay on one credit card and not answer the debt collectors calls for the others, so you’ll deal with the stress later.)
Relationship issues. Sweep sweep sweep. (You’re tired of arguing so the silent treatment is just going to have to work for now, so you’ll deal with the frustration and loneliness later.)
A phone call saying your relative passing away. Sweep sweep sweep. (I don’t have time to grieve…my family needs me, and I have to work, so I’ll deal with the sadness later.)
Divorce. Sweep sweep sweep sweep sweep!! (I can’t trust anyone after what he/she did! I deserve to be bitter!)
Remember, there’s no dustpan, so how big do you think that pile of “dirt” is under that beautiful rug?? (In case you missed it, the beautiful rug is an analogy for you…your heart, your mind, and your soul.) What do you think will happen as you attempt to move forward in your purpose and with healthy relationships when this pile of dirt has never been swept up into its proper place?
In order to live a life of betterment and not bitterness, you’re going to have to take a serious self-evaluation of yourself. This isn’t always fun (yes, I’m saying this from experience), but the outcome is so worth it. I love the Easy to Read version of the Bible and how it puts Psalms 139:24. “Make sure that I am not going the wrong way. Lead me on the path that has always been right.” The awesome thing about God is that He wants us to ask for His help in this area. And guess what. He’ll be right there to help you through the process.
We all have self-bias. Don’t believe me. Take my social psychology course! If you can’t do that, here’s a quick example.
How often do we blame other people for driving bad but give ourselves a pass when we cut someone off? (After all, you’re running late.) How often do we get irritated at the co-worker who shows up late to work (more than once) but we get upset with our boss for reprimanding us (after all, WE had a valid reason)? And how often do we accuse all the “other people” of hoarding toilet paper when we go to the store the very next day to get toilet paper in case all the OTHER PEOPLE buy it all up? Do you see the pattern here?
What does this have to do with betterment or bitterness? Too often, we feel as though we should be allowed to stay bitter because no one has been wronged or gone through the things like we have. This my friend is simply not true. This statement isn’t to minimize what you’ve been through, but it’s to remind you that you’re not alone in dealing with certain issues. Not one of us is immune to issues in life so once we understand that, we have a choice to make. Are we going to allow those issues to eat away at us and cause us to ultimately be the person that no one wants to be around or are you going to choose to say, “Yes, I’ve been hurt, but I will choose to not allow this to define me or become bitter.” Staying bitter will keep you from fully living in your purpose.
My hope and prayer is that you choose the “E” and not the “I.” Choose to be better and not bitter. Don’t allow life’s hurts and pains to define you and keep you from living a life of happiness. Do some self-reflecting. Ask God for guidance. And lastly, start sweeping…but don’t forget the dustpan! 🙂