There is an old saying that “bitterness is a hard pill to swallow.” Perhaps a more accurate saying is “bitterness is bad for the digestion.” However, I also like Tom’s Sufis who talk in terms of bitterness entering into the system like a poison and manifesting disease. This disease brought on by bitterness attacks the heart and, once introduced, is difficult to get out of our system. Bitterness is simply taking the poison of another and injecting it into our self.
The cure is not easy, but even bitterness is curable, despite much evidence to the contrary. We rid the bitterness by leaving it no room to grow or exist in our heart. We train ourselves to only accept love and God into our heart. We focus solely on God and his gifts so there is no room for the poison. Bitterness doesn’t give up easily its place. It will test our resolve by the outward presence of those we cannot bear, those we do not like, and those who are intolerant of us. It will present us with difficult situations that tempt us to give it just a little bit of room for it to reside, and as soon as we open the window the poison pours in. Only when we maintain a full and pure heart, full of love, does the poison leave our system. And leave it must. Otherwise we maintain a place in our heart where God is absent.
Great commentary, Webb, and truly one of the biggest challenges most of us face. I had an earlier teacher suggest that we are all “judging machines.” Just speaking for myself, a day doesn’t go by without my drawing conclusions about someone else’s intent, or their meaning behind their words… or what a person must be like based on what she looks like. Or jumping to conclusions about someone based on how the press characterizes them (you’ve made that observation before regarding a number of high profile legal cases).
To the point of your commentary, a lot of the bitterness in our environment comes from judging others and from their reactions to being judged. Just this morning I set an intention during my morning practices to “love all people unconditionally, recognizing them as God’s creations.” OK, I’ll admit, that intention took me into a bit of an uncomfortable space, but I was sincere… until an hour later I got into a shouting match with someone on the phone about their price gouging practices (my judgment).
The comforting thing is that ALL of us have been created as imperfect beings, with the job of moving ever towards perfection. It’s also important to remember something that another teacher taught me but that I forgot this morning… that when we set an intention, or aspire for something new and possibly out of our comfort zone, the universe will arrange for all sorts of challenges to arise! The corollary (and good news) is that God never gives us a challenge we can’t take on!