The Bitter roots

Window cracked
midnight driving
I feel the wind moving through
my hair.  I can feel it
brush my neck, getting longer
like the days of this season
as it reaches through
spring into summer
and I’m back there again.
I can taste the words
on the tip of my tongue,
bitter.
I can feel my heart in my
hands,
eating it once again
and all it takes is a
flash photographic blast back
into my memory to recall
the whole reason I wrenched it out
and I tell myself,
“Son, you should be over this.”
And the truth is I want
nothing more than to forgive
and forget
you.
But, truth is, I’m not wired that way
never gonna be, so it’s back
to that slow healing process
I know so well
where I try to will myself into
a sort of apathy towards
whatever broken connection we had
and I’m sorry to even be feeling
this mixed up and bothered
But if nothing else, I’m trying
blinded by the oncoming headlights,
I swear…
If life hadn’t been a battle
I’d never have had the strength
to keep fighting through it.
If my heart wasn’t continually broken
I wouldn’t be so good at
picking up the pieces
And if I hadn’t spent so much time
talking and running my mouth
and if I hadn’t been myself
I wouldn’t be
screaming these words
in my head right now.
So, I will be thankful for this feeling
and I will swallow this awful taste.
And when my tires hit the asphalt
late, late at night
I breathe in the starlight air, cool and sweet
And sing along with my heart
turned upward,
one-by-one ripping out the roots
that held me there,
the bitter roots.

 

Of the great many things I still struggle with, bitterness still likes to rear its ugly head.  The problem with bitterness is that it mingles far too many of my least favorite emotions and I can’t control it.  It stems from something I suppose is unresolved between me and this girl I sort of dated for a short while.  The problem was that i got all my hopes built up into this person, really set them up for failure and then she dropped me hard.  And I had to deal with that to the best of my ability.  We exchanged pleasantries, she said she’d still talk to me, etc.  That didn’t happen and I thought I was okay with it.  It’s probably a year or two since this happened but without resolution, these types of things leave me alone until provoked. 

The worst part of any kind of bitterness is that it just erupts without warning and I can’t do anything about it.  When it hit me tonight, I drove around listening to music for two hours.  While that was extremely calming and I do feel a lot better, I would like to just get rid of this garbage that doesn’t seem to want to leave.

I did some searching.  I didn’t go real in-depth but I was able to, as always, find some good things regarding bitterness:

Deuteronomy 29:18 & 20

Beware lest there be among you a man or woman or clan or tribe whose heart is turning away today from the Lord our God to go and serve the gods of those nations. Beware lest there be among you a root bearing poisonous and bitter fruit… 

20 The Lord will not be willing to forgive him, but rather the anger of the Lord and his jealousy will smoke against that man, and the curses written in this book will settle upon him, and the Lord will blot out his name from under heaven. 

And…

Hebrews 12:12-15

Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees,13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. 14 Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. 15 See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; 

I quickly got the point.  God does not like bitterness.  I don’t like bitterness either but it’s almost like a knee-jerk reaction, something that drags out the dead bodies of past failures and bad memories.  And when they bring out their dead it is as if someone has put fire to the fuse and the sparks fly and in trying to get away from it I run into this brick wall and there I stand tasting it.  The anger wells up and the depression keeps me rooted and, for a moment, I am a man on fire and I have to get away.  So, I put myself in motion.  I have to keep my mind on something while I try and clean up the mess, so I do what I did last night and I drive.  I don’t go anywhere in particular but, for some reason, seeing things pass and putting them behind me helps me clear my head and heart.  I put on music to sing and scream away the anger inside me and the roots of bitterness are pulled up and out and I can think clearly again.  And now I pray for the calm to fight this and the strength to work past it all and remove it.

Paul says this:

Ephesians 4:31,32

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

The idea is to put all the negativity away and be genuinely nice, to love each other and, above all, forgiving one another because Christ died for us.  Paul is exhorting the church in Ephesus to stop butting heads and to get along and so I could see how this could be used with a pointed finger saying, “You need to quit being a jerk and forgive your brother.”  But I think the hardest thing to do sometimes is to turn that on yourself.  I read that verse and my heart just aches in knowing that the issue, especially in this case, is with me and not towards the one to whom I am bitter.  This failure I feel is not anyone else’s fault but myself and, just like learning someone as yourself goes both ways, I think forgiveness can go both ways too.  You can forgive your brother but how easy is it to forgive yourself for what you consider a grievous failure.  It’s hard to deal with ourselves because we don’t want to look in the mirror.  On a personal level, I haven’t mastered this either so my hope is not that anyone takes this as anything but mere contemplation.

But it’s the truth.  In this case, I set my expectations to an impossible level for this person and when they failed to meet them I became angry and disheartened.  So, realizing that, I have to forgive myself for setting the whole situation up for failure.  And with that, perhaps my bitterness will dissolve.  They say that time heals all wounds, but I think we have to rework that.  Time may allow the wounds to scab over and stop the bleeding.  But with God and the work of Christ on the cross, in which our sins are forgiven, the wound will heal.

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