Zig Ziglar was the first person I heard say, “Everything that happens to you in life, has the potential of making you bitter or better. “ I could handle that statement until he continued, “The choice is yours!” I have to make a choice? Isn’t it the severity of what happens to me that determines whether I become bitter or better? Doesn’t my past free me to blame circumstances or other people for my attitude and actions? Ouch!
But wait! There is good news. The fact God has given me a choice also means that I don’t have to be a victim of circumstances. Responding with bitterness sometimes feels better for a short period of time. It momentarily relieves the pain of being treated unfairly. It’s payback time.
But Bitter is NEVER better.
Make no mistake, it is a natural and acceptable human response to be angry at personal and corporate injustice, but allowing that anger to take root and fester may be one of the most self destructive actions a man or woman can take.
Without exception when bitterness is allowed to take root and grow it eventually diminishes and destroys the person who nurtures it. I have watched it happen to people I love. The movement toward destruction can be slow and invisible to the naked eye, but inevitably bitter people with incredible potential are reduced to vindictive souls who lash out at perceived slights and offenses. Their judgment becomes clouded. They become brittle, insensitive shells of what they really could be. Once filled with life and compassion they slowly harden into isolated self protective souls desperate for and incapable of knowing healthy relationships. I should know. I did some hard time in that shell myself.
Every day the events of our lives force us to choose. Bitter? or Better? Both, is not an option.
How ironic that bitterness has zero affect on the person or persons it is aimed at, but surely destroys the one who chooses to harbor it.
Researching my book “Fully Alive” has forced me to re-evaluate my own life. Not always a fun process. I must confess that my default, knee jerk reaction can still occasionally lean toward “bitter.” But, I am a free man now. Seeing the miracle in lives resolved to let go of bitterness and move toward betterness. (sic) is like witnessing a rose that has been battered by hail recover and bloom to beauty again. I have also seen the destruction that comes when bitterness sucks the beauty from life and destroys the potential to live fully alive. I choose to live. So today I pray…..
“Dear Lord, Today will bring a variety of events to my life.
I may experience cancelled flights, cruel remarks, or personal tragedy.
I may be made a fool of or make a fool of myself.
I may be reminded of a past filled with pain.
In the face of whatever happens Lord, help me take the time to weigh my response to these things. Though I may get angry, feel like an idiot or dance in celebration, at the end of the day, by your grace, please help me – CHOOSE – to be better. ”
I look forward to your comments and stories. They always help me be a BETTER person.