I frequently have people share with me, “I’m going through a tough situation and I’m not bitter…I’m just very hurt.”
If you’ve ever gone through a tough situation, then you “get it” and know exactly what I’m talking about. You understand the difference between being deeply wounded vs. being bitter.
Everybody at some point will go through an extremely trying event in life that will threaten to leave them very bitter.
I’ve been through times like this and they are not fun…not at all. These times can be extremely tough to get through. The last one I went through took me quite awhile to process and thoroughly forgive.
I don’t understand why, but times like this usually bring people to the surface who compound your grief.
Usually, someone will callously say to a wounded person, “You sure are bitter“…or they will piously say “Have you considered your need to forgive?”…or some other hurtful cliché that seems oh-so-right to the one making the comment, but causes much deeper pain to the person who is already going through – and trying to process – forgiveness and grief.
When you (or a loved one) goes through a really bad situation, it can leave you:
•deeply hurt or offended
•frustrated or devastated by people in the situation
•angry at any injustice that took place
•truly disappointed in many people’s actions or reactions – and if we’re being real here, it can leave you disgusted by people’s lack of action and compassion
When I’ve been through times like this, I was able to initially forgive as an act of my will out of obedience…but my heart, well, that was another matter. That can truly take self-work depending on how bad the situation is.
There are also many variables. Variables such as:
•what other people are involved?
•are they willing to do the “right thing”?
•is everybody involved willing to work out the situation in an honorable way?
•can there be closure…or will the situation have no resolution?
•if major loss occurred, are people willing to make restitution or set things right?
There are so many variables that will ultimately be a guide for a timeline of healing to take place.
Being bitter and being wounded are not the same thing…and sometimes, people need time to process tough situations, come to terms with how they (or a loved one) were wronged or treated, and then they will need the opportunity — and time — to grow through the situation, and process their loss, so they are able to genuinely forgive the people involved who were hurtful or offensive.
They may even go through a time of questioning God or His goodness depending on how devastating or impactful the grief experience has been on them.
Respect their grief and love them.
They need time to come to a place of true forgiveness and peace.
Consider this: if a house burns down, you don’t instantly get a new house the very next day or week. You more than likely will only be able to thoroughly rebuild a house within 6-12 months time. You then will begin the process of refurnishing the new home.
Even if you were given a brand new house, you still will go through a period of time where you will mourn the loss of the original house…and will even have periodic reminders of all that was lost.
When you go through great loss…whether it’s the loss of a person, the loss of a marriage, the loss of a romantic relationship or friendship, the loss of your health or a job, a wounding situation, a situation of adultery or betrayal, or any other situation of significant loss…it takes time to get through it. It takes time to rid yourself of negative thoughts and emotions and refurnish your spirit, heart and mind with forgiveness, positivity, and peace.
That’s not being bitter – that’s processing heartache or deep disappointment and being NORMAL.
Grief is not a cookie cutter, clean-cut event with crisp, clear lines. Each person will respond differently and each will process the grief event very differently…even if it is the exact same grief event.
The greater the love, the greater the grief…and the greater the love, sacrifice, or investment, the longer it will take to process grief.
If you permanently sit down, quit, and allow the situation to thoroughly destroy you, then, yes, bitterness can overtake your heart. Most people do go through a period of time where they initially feel deeply hurt or defeated…absolutely…but they will eventually start to work through and process the pain from the situation and experience genuine growth.
It takes time.
So before harshly judging someone who has been through (or is going through) a life-altering event or super tough time, please consider the effect that words, thoughts, and actions can have towards the one who is in deep pain.
So what can you say or do?
•you are so bitter
•you need to immediately forgive
•aren’t you over it yet??
•why do you keep talking about it?
•how can I help?
•I am here for you
•I’m sorry you are hurting so badly
•I imagine you are very hurt
•ignore, avoid, or abandon the person
•stop being there for them
•act rude or ugly towards them
•pass judgement on them
•piously or unthinkingly force scripture onto them…use extreme wisdom and make sure it truly reflects God’s love for them
•genuinely and frequently pray for them
•encourage them to work through the situation with God (only say this if you are invested in them and you are close to them)
•be there for them
•allow them to vent
•”put” yourself in their situation and develop true empathy for them — consider how you would feel if you were going through what they’re painfullygoing through
I hope these tips help and encourage everybody to truly be there for their family and friends who are processing deep hurt or grief.
Remember: a person going through a major grief event is truly not trying to be difficult, sulky, or a pain, they’ve had their entire world ripped apart and are desperately trying to process their pain so they can begin to rebuild their life. Grant them the compassion, unconditional love, mercy, and freedom they need so they can genuinely do so — free from judgment, guilt, and further complications or hardship.
When you truly invest in, encourage, and unconditionally love others, you are most like Christ than any other time.
When in doubt, always ask yourself, “how would God want me to love, minister to, and treat them?”
As you help others, be the love and compassion today that you would want to receive in the future when you go through a super tough time.
Ultimately, if you are the one who is hurting today, go to God and seek His help. He knows every detail of what you are going through…and He holds the exact encouragement, help, and solutions you need to successfully make it through to a place of peace.
Gratitude & many blessings,
©2016 Grief Bites. All rights reserved.
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1. Grief Bites: Finding Treasure In Hardships: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/912-grief-bites-finding-treasure-in-hardships
2. Grief Bites: Doubt Revealed: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/954-grief-bites-doubt-revealed
3. Grief Bites: A New Approach To Growing Through Grief https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/862-grief-bites
4. Grief Bites: Hope For The Holidays: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/1964-grief-bites-hope-for-the-holidays