Wow ... I wasn't expecting this and certainly wasn't in any way prepared for it. During the past month I've written about acceptance and forgiveness, and I truly meant everything I said. I know that I've accepted Eddie's death and the manner in which he died. I have made great strides in forgiving him for both his alcoholism and suicide. I guess my forgiveness isn't 100% complete though. While talking with someone this past week I was surprised to realize the feelings of bitterness and resentment I have buried inside. My reaction to some of the things that were said hit me like a ton of bricks. I've experienced periods of anger over the past three years and still have an occasional angry thought even now. But I honestly didn't know how much I still resent what Eddie put not only me, but Trey and everyone else, through. So I apparently still have work to do - I have to deal with and get rid of this bitterness before it becomes something I can't let go of. "Hurt leads to bitterness, bitterness to anger, travel too far that road and the way is lost." -Terry Brooks
I know that bitterness is an irrational, destructive emotion. It is the result of being hurt or disappointed by a person or by circumstances, and it becomes worse when we cannot confront who or what caused it. It is not visible like anger but is an underlying problem that dwells on the inside. The Bible describes bitterness as a root and strongly warns against letting it take hold ("See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many." Hebrews 12:15). A root is a source that fuels things on the surface. The root of bitterness is hidden in the heart and even in the soul and if left untreated can feed other negative emotions. When we hold these feelings inside they fester and grow. Although it is hidden deep inside, bitterness can spread easily and have an effect on everything we think, say, and do. "Carrying a grudge is a loser's game. It is the ultimate frustration because it leaves you with more pain than you had in the first place." -Lewis B. Smedes
Bitterness comes from not completely forgiving the person or the circumstances that hurt us. But no person or event can make us bitter. It is our attitude that makes us bitter because we choose to respond in a bitter way. I allowed the trauma of Eddie's alcoholism and subsequent suicide to get to me and without realizing it let the roots of bitterness and resentment be planted inside of me. Those feelings have slowly grown over time and are just now reaching the surface. In order to begin getting rid of these pent up negative emotions I have to admit they exist then find a way to cut off and remove the root. In my reading I found two steps necessary to get started with this "removal" - admit to God that the bitterness is wrong and pray for the one (Eddie) that I have bitterness against ("And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins." Mark 11:25, 26). I have to set a goal to be free of bitterness and resentment and accomplish it through prayer, will, and desire. I will make an effort to count my blessings, guard my thoughts, resist when negative ones try to enter, and only think about positive things. It wont be easy, but as with everything else I will be able to do it in time.
"Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." Ephesians 4:31, 32