The Bible says in Hebrews 12, “Make every effort to live in peace with all men (which would include your spouse) and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.”
But what do you do when your spouse hurts you so deeply that a bitter root is growing within? Despite your every effort, this bitterness is taking over, and it is poisoning your marriage.
Someone once said, “Bitterness is an acid that hurts more the object in which it’s stored than the object on which it is poured.” You may not want to take it in, but you find yourself taking it in anyway.
The following are a few thoughts for you to consider:
• “When others (including our spouse) hurts us in ways we don’t deserve, at some point we will come to the crossroads of decision. We will have to look our pain square in the face and ask, ‘Am I going to hang on to my anger and do violence to myself, or am I going to forgive those who have wounded me? Am I going to allow bitterness to poison and putrefy my soul, or am I going to invite God to empower me to let the anger go?'” (Pam Vredevelt, from the book, The Wounded Woman)
• “The choices we make form the rudder that directs our marriage journey. Good choices keep us sailing smoothly in the right direction. Bad choices steer us toward the rocks. And every day in marriage, choices are made that keep couples headed where they want to go or lead them to places that they dread.” (Dr’s. Les and Leslie Parrott, from the book, When Bad Things Happen to Good Marriages: How to Stay Together When Life Pulls You Apart)
• “Listen to these words: ‘We stand at the crossroads, each minute, each hour, each day, making choices. We choose the thoughts we allow ourselves to think, the passions we allow ourselves to feel, and the actions we allow ourselves to perform. Each choice is made in the context of whatever value system we’ve selected to govern our lives. In selecting that value system, we are, in a very real way, making the most important choice we will ever make.’ Benjamin Franklin said this, and his words have more wisdom for married couples than he probably ever knew.”
Keep in mind that:
“In order to thrive, bitterness averts its gaze from God’s grace and mercy, focusing instead on the multitude of ways He and people we’ve counted on have let us down.” (Roberta Rand Caponey from, “Overcoming Bitterness”)
There probably isn’t any of us would want to choose to hold onto bitterness. But how do you make a different “choice?”
To help you with this, we would like to recommend several articles for you to read. There is also a prayer that you might look over to see if it expresses the prayer of your heart. There are a few scriptures you could also through, as well.
Hopefully, these things, along with what you can read in the Bible, and other articles you can read on our web site can minister to your heart. Most importantly, work through all of this with our Wonderful Counselor, the Holy Spirit. He can help you to release whatever bitterness you are struggling with.
Keep in mind that the enemy of our faith does not want you to break free “so you can more on with your life.” As you embrace the grace and power of God to let go of your bitterness, the enemy loses.
As author Tim Kimmel wrote:
“There’s nothing gracious about letting the forces of evil hold you hostage to crimes done against you. God wants to release you from their hold so you can enjoy a full and free life with your spouse.”
Right now, you are a prisoner to the memories and feelings that keep haunting you concerning past hurts. You may think that you will never be free, because it is so pervasive. But I can tell you from personal experience that this is a lie from the pit of Hell. I had some horrible things done to me earlier in my life that tortured my mind for a number of years. I truly thought I would never get past it. But with God’s help, I have. I am free. Thank God, I am free. The journey was long, and painful, but it was worth leaning into the Lord to get to this point of freedom.
Also, my mom (and several other close family members and friends I know) suffered from the horrors of having a spouse who betrayed her. She also never thought she would be able to release the bitterness that grew within her heart. But she did. It was a long, painful journey of leaning upon the Lord. But God is faithful.
Dr Kimmel gives this insight in his book, Grace Filled Marriage.
“Perhaps even the thought of never being able to get beyond these things is just the dark side continuing to lie to you. I don’t know about you, but the last person I want having any say in how I’m supposed to respond in these kinds of situations is the evil one who got me there in the first place.”
Do what it takes to fight these lies. Lean into the healing God can give you as you look to Him to help you break free from bitterness.
To help you in this journey of healing, you can read the linked articles we have provided for you below. And then arrow back to read, and pray through the prayer and the scriptures afterward. If you have additional tips you can share to help others in this area of marriage, please “Join the Discussion” by adding your comments below. We pray God will minister to your heart and to your situation.
Here are the links:
The following is a prayer, written by Stormie Omartian, that you may want to pray:
“Help me not to hold myself apart from [my spouse] emotionally, mentally, or physically because of unforgiveness. Where either of us needs to ask forgiveness of the other, help us to do so. If there is something I’m not seeing that is adding to this problem, reveal it to me and help me to understand it. Remove any wedge of confusion that has created misunderstanding or miscommunication.
Where there is behavior that needs to change in either of us, I pray You would enable that change to happen. As much as I want to hang on to my anger toward [my spouse] because I feel it is justified, I want to do what You want. I release all those feelings to You. Give me a renewed sense of love for him and words to heal this situation.”
Here are some scriptures to earnestly pray:
“Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.”
“Show me your ways, O LORD,
teach me your paths;
guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my Savior,
and my hope is in you all day long.”
Cindy Wright of Marriage Missions International wrote this article.
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Filed under: Bitterness and Forgiveness