Focus: Bitterness and your health
Hebrews 12:14-15 (NKJV) Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled.
Bitterness is a condition that results from dwelling on events of the past that were painful, caused anger, and were unresolved. One of the reasons bitterness is rampant in the world today is because of the economy. Many people have lost their employment or retirement funds—which has led to financial strain—which has led to stress in relationships—which has resulted in bitterness—which has led to depression and possible dependency. Bitterness is like a poison. But bitterness usually presents itself well down the line of a chain of events that all have to do with loss. Loss of position, loss of financial security, loss of respect, loss of opportunity, and the list goes on.
When you experience pain and unfair treatment—seeds of bitterness are sown in your mind and emotions. If you did nothing to encourage their growth—these seeds would die. The seeds of bitterness only grow through your choice to nurture them. They can’t grow on their own.
When you spend time dwelling on negative events and carry resentment toward people and circumstances—you are in a sense watering the seeds of bitterness—tending them so that they will continue to grow. As you concentrate your attention on the seeds, they begin to sprout. The growth that appears first is typical—nothing to be alarmed about. But what occurs in time is like a science fiction thriller. As the roots begin to grow, the plant escalates to irrational proportions. The kind of nurturing the plant is getting—causes it to become toxic. After a while it isn’t just an ordinary ‘house plant’, it is a twisted invasive strangler vine that turns on the one who nurtures it. Bitterness—out of control has the potential of killing you.
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Research from Concordia University in Montreal shows that constant bitterness may lead to physical illness. Conditions that may be related to health issues range from organ function to immune response and vulnerability to disease. A book has been written detailing the findings of the research. It is called, Embitterment: Societal, Psychological and Clinical Perspectives, by Carsten Wrosch and Jesse Renaud.
Wrosh and Renaud identify ‘failure’ as the main cause of bitterness. “It’s not only the failure; it’s the way people attribute causes to the failure, “ explains Wrosch, an associate professor of psychology. Their book also states that “Negative emotions typically have the power to influence our biology”.
“They can . . . release more cortisol into circulation, which in turn, can communicate with other body systems — the immune system, for example. And if there’s immune dysregulation, such as systemic inflammation, that increases the person’s likelihood of developing a host of different diseases.”
‘Bitter’ is what you become when you don’t let go of anger or pain that comes from failure or loss. Dwelling on the details relating to the failure or the loss is what gives life to bitterness. Your physical health is not the only thing that will suffer if you continue to allow yourself to be bitter. Your personal and business relationships will experience the strain, also.
The Bible refers to bitterness as having ‘roots’. The roots aren’t the cause of bitterness—they are extensions below the surface. The seeds were the cause—but the growth that has taken place is due to the nurturing that has occurred above and below the ground, visible and invisible. Bitterness is one of those vines that is really hard to get rid of because it attaches itself to anything in its path. It is a condition that needs careful and relentless attention. Bitterness is easily encouraged. When you think you have uprooted it—almost without notice, it will spring up in another area. To get rid of it entirely requires radical determination.
To keep it from coming back—you not only have to cut off the surface growth, but dig out all of the roots. Like a surgical process—none of it can remain, and the whole thing has to be disposed of in a permanent manner.
It’s time for more releasing and letting go.
One of the twisted parts of bitterness is that it can ‘hurt’ to let it go. The plant you have nurtured since it first sprouted has become a part of you. You have bonded. As you have been dwelling on it—you have actually dwelt ‘in it’. Bitterness has become a ‘home’ of sorts—it’s where you’ve been living. So when you decide to let it go—you are going to have to build a new residence. Let that residence be built on the beauty and holiness of the Lord and let the name of your new home be called, ‘peace’.
Declaration: I will find new strength and peace by refusing to nurture bitterness in my life. I will tear out all of the growth from the past and keep looking for current evidence of any sprouts—no matter how harmless they might appear. I recognize bitterness as my enemy. I will not allow it to destroy my health and relationships.
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All NEW STRENGTH posts are Copyright by Christina Cook Lee 2012. Please request permission to re-post or re-blog.