The Pen Project Volume 1 Issue 2 - Page 50

bitter or better? by Tim Heupel A friend of mine from South Dakota who spent 32 years in the coaching profession would constantly tell his players, “in the face of adversity you can either get bitter or better.” All of us love the stories of individuals who championed over tough situations and came to enjoy a better life in spite of the hardship and pain they endured. How sad it is when people make their pain and adversity the trademark of their life and constantly focus on it and allow it to become their identity. They become bitter and often they don’t know at who or at what. In my years of doing jail and prison ministry, I heard the stories from individuals of their bitterness toward someone who had wronged them. They were living frothing in anger, plotting their plan of retaliation. It was only creating harm to them and the problem was never being resolved. The bitterness was destroying them and keeping them from being the person that God desired for them to be. Dr. Wyatt Mullinax, a well-known psychologist, clergyman, and prison chaplain says it so well in his program Cognitive Renewal. Mullinax states something to the effect of… “For the life of me. I cannot understand how you can allow someone you detest, that you dislike, and hate to live in your mind twenty-four hours a day, and you are not charging them one dimes rent.” It is an amazing paradox. We allow someone we don’t care for to control our thinking and behavior. Someone we detest is running our life. God’s greatest commandment is - - have no other God’s before me. When we have someone else on our mind they become our god. The one true God loved us so much that He sent His one and only Son into the world to save us from our sins, to save us from our evil thoughts, and to save us so that we can become better rather than become bitter. Yes, God expects better from us. Jesus taught us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute you. That’s exactly what He did. He died for those who persecuted and mocked Him. He died for all. He paid the price to show us that forgiveness not retaliation is the foundation of His kingdom. The angels of heaven rejoice when we extend forgiveness and dismiss the bitterness of our lives. Give the angels an opportunity to party. We need to extend forgiveness to rid ourselves of bitterness, which will allow us to feel so much better. In the face of adversity, pain, and wrong doing we have two choices. We can get bitter or we can get better. Look to the cross of Calvary and Christ’s open tomb. Seeing that act of love, I think you will want to get better. Rev. Dr. Timothy J. Heupel Vacancy Pastor, Our Redeemer Lutheran Church, Eau Claire, WI 50