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Entries in Root of bitterness (2)

Tuesday
Jun112019

Clear Your Hardened Spiritual Arteries

Kathy Collard Miller writes much about the heart, because she wants people to have a right heart with God. In this Biblical Thinking UPGRADE, she focuses on the problem of bitterness, and God's solution, forgiveness. 

"Unforgiveness gives us hardening of our spiritual arteries," Kathy says. "God wants only the best for us, so he says, 'Forgive!'"

I (Dawn) know from experience the "hardening" of an unforgiving heart. I also know how forgiving my offender released me from the prison of bitterness. Kathy's personal story describes the power of living life God's way.

Kathy continues . . .  

I knew my heart had hardened toward my father-in-law. His commitment to another religious viewpoint kept him occupied when we visited, and he constantly, angrily debated his ideas with us. He could go on and on about his beliefs without ever being willing to hear anything we said.

I felt frustrated. Without realizing it, I believed I had to protect my heart by becoming bitter.

I could never think of anything he did right, only his faults whether we were visiting him and my mother-in-law or not. I focused on his lack of care for his son and his grandchildren.

Although he gave some attention to our children, I longed for him to be a patient and encouraging grandfather investing in their spiritual growth.

It appeared to me he only represented his view of God as mean and spiteful.

I knew my responses weren’t representing God well either, but I felt trapped in my bitter rehearsing of his faults.

Over time I learned three important truths to set me free from my bitterness and bring joy into our family.

1. Forgiveness is a choice, not a feeling.

At times, I tried to forgive him. I knew my hard heart wasn’t helping the situation and didn’t help my young children either—supposedly the very ones I was so concerned about.

I forced myself to think, “Don, I forgive you,” but later, the old feelings surfaced again. I concluded I hadn’t really forgiven him.

Eventually, I realized I had made a conscious choice to forgive him and that is forgiveness.

Feelings are fickle and will return. It doesn’t mean I hadn’t forgiven him.

2. We can be motivated to cooperate with God's call of forgiveness when we really understand it’s God’s plan for our good.

God doesn’t want us to forgive because he wants us to be hurt again.

Forgiveness doesn’t mean we are obligated to allow someone to continue to hurt us. Forgiveness can involve boundaries and loving strength to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).

The reason God says forgiveness is for our good is because we are set free from having another person control us.

After all, if we are constantly negatively rehearsing the way they hurt us, then we aren’t thinking about the wonderful parts of our lives and God’s love for us.

3. We can forgive because God has forgiven us far more than the hurt from another person.

We don’t deserve God’s forgiveness. But Jesus’s death made God’s forgiveness possible, because He paid the debt we owed. God’s loving graciousness declares we are in His forever family and set free from our sins. We can’t earn that by being good; it’s a free gift.

Colossians 3:13 inspires us:Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

Gratitude for God’s unearned and undeserved love can motivate us to release punishing someone else.

As God continued over time to help me with these truths, my anger toward Don diminished and I could more easily make that choice to stop rehearsing his faults.

He even turned from his erroneous thinking and returned to true faith in Jesus as his Savior and Lord when he was 83. He became a different person of love and joy.

Although he never acknowledged how he had hurt our family, including my husband’s mom, we knew his hugs loved us authentically.

After he had a sudden brain aneurism at age 90 and lay in the hospital dying, I was able to read him the letter of forgiveness I’d written him.

I doubt he heard me, but I knew God had heard my heart’s cry and released me totally from the bitterness I had harbored.

I also included in the letter the ways he had loved his family, though they had seemed so insignificant over the years. Just as I fail, he couldn’t be perfect. That helped me see the good parts of our family dynamics.

Today, I know the power of forgiveness, which clears our hardened spiritual arteries.

Who is God calling you to take an initial conscious step to forgive? Ask God to help you make that decision.

Kathy Collard Miller is a wife, mom, and grandma who speaks and writes about God’s work in her life, family, and marriage. She has authored 54 books including Pure-Hearted: The Blessings of Living Out God’s Glory. She lives in Southern California with her husband, Larry, of 49 years. For more information about Kathy, visi www.KathyCollardMiller.com.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of Giralt at Pixabay.   

 

Thursday
Sep152016

3 Ways to Make Nice in Your Marriage

Elaine W. Miller wrote a book with a funny title, We all Married Idiots. In this Marriage UPGRADE, she gives a little insight into why that’s true!

“Why are we such idiots?” Elaine said. “We smile, open doors, and run to rescue strangers. In the workplace we hold our tempers, fearing a job loss if we don’t. Yet when we enter our homes, we frown, slam doors and lose our tempers with no fear of the consequences.”

Oh ugh. I (Dawn) am guilty as charged. Why do we hurt the ones we love?

Elaine continues . . .

As married men and women, we should make every effort to make nice behind closed doors as well as in public. I know we can control our tempers. We do what we need to.

In the heat of anger, we politely answered the phone, “Good morning!” Yes, it is under our control. But for some reason I don’t understand (except that we are all sinners), we find it easier to make mean than to make nice to the ones we love. How foolish!

Making nice is something we need to do; it may not necessarily just happen. I like the synonym “do.” Just do it.

Do nice. Cause nice. Build nice. Create nice. Accomplish nice.

Making nice is a choice.

“Nice,” it turns out, comes from the Latin nescius, meaning “ignorant.” The computer dictionary defines “ignorant” as “unaware.” When our loved ones do something idiotic, be unaware of it. Ignore it. Overlook the mistake. Make nice.

One day I watched a husband make nice when he certainly could have made mean. He and his wife and my husband and I climbed an Adirondack mountain together. Inexperienced at climbing, the other wife wore sandals. What a mistake! This trip required sneakers at the very least – hiking boots at best.

As we trekked up the mountain, her discomfort became evident. Reaching the summit, her feet Rob with blisters, she agonized about her ability to descend the mountain.

What was your husband to do? He had a choice. He could yell from the top of the mountain, “I married an idiot! Why didn’t she wear better shoes?” He could have humiliated her with words like, “You are such a wimp! Stop your complaining.”

This husband didn’t choose those options. He chose to make nice. Without a word, he lovingly scooped up his love and carried her down the mountain.

This man realize the truth that on his wedding day he and his wife became one. When her feet hurt, it hurt him. Instead of making the pain grow deeper with thoughtless words, he decided to alleviate the pain.

I once wrote,

“Every day we decide the words and actions that will serve or suffocate our marriages.”

Every new day begins with choices. We choose what clothes to wear and what to eat for breakfast. We choose to sin. We choose to act like idiots. We choose to make nice or not.

Making nice is an investment that pays big dividends. Kind words and considerate deeds deposit love into our marriage love bank. Mean remarks and thoughtless actions count as love withdrawals. Take out too much, and there is no love left.

Making nice manifests itself in every aspect of your life, but especially in the bedroom. When you are unkind or unfaithful, it affects sexual intimacy. You can’t treat your spouse shabbily and then expect your beloved to jump into the sacred marriage bed.

Making nice makes a nice marriage. When meanness becomes the norm, marriages fail to thrive.

Here are three ways to make nice in your marriage:

1. Watch your words

Ephesians 4:29 says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouth, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

If in our desire to build ourselves up we put our spouse’s down, every derogatory remark registers in the brain creating a chill in the marriage vault. Negative words are like icicles stabbed into your loved one's heart that only kindness and forgiveness and making nice can melt.

When unkind words come from our condemning mouth, who benefits? No one. Certainly not the little ears that listen. Most are aghast when their children repeat words to the world that their parents say in private.

2. Don’t Demand Your Own Way

Love strives to live in peace (Hebrews 12:14), and God says love does not demand its own way (1 Corinthians 13:5). When we become angry and impatient and rude, most likely it is because we have not gotten our way. Philippians 2:3 says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.”

When we choose not to be self-seeking, we then become more patient and kind and not so easily angered. Then, as much as it depends on us, our homes will be peaceful.

3. Root out bitter roots

Hebrews 12:15 says, “See to it that… no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” Our bad behavior does not come without consequences. It destroys our marriages.

The hurt of bitterness hurts not only the one the arrow is aimed at, but also others we love. That arrow penetrates our children’s hearts. Sometimes the wounds never heal, and the scars remain for a lifetime.

Marriage is not a competitive sport. The one who gives the most verbal punches does not win. You both lose because condemning your spouse is condemning yourself. God has declared you to be one flesh.

Verbal punches leave you both knocked out and too tired to fight for your marriage. Don’t let it happen. Make nice!

What did you say today that built up your spouse? What did you say that put down your partner? How can you make every effort to live at peace?

Elaine W. Miller is an international author and speaker known for sharing biblical insights with warmth, enthusiasm, and humor. She is the author of three books including her latest We All Married Idiots: Three Things You Will Never Change AboutYour Marriage and Ten Things You Can (available in English, Spanish, and Bosnian). Residing in upstate  New York with her husband of 45 years, she enjoys having three married children and 11 grandchildren close by. Visit Elaine's website/blog to learn more about her unique ministry.

This blog post was adapted from Chapter 9 in We All Married Idiots.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of christinevitved for Pixabay.