There is a bitter woman in my life. There’s no way to dress it up. She’s angry, and resentful.

Recently, during one of her many text-rages to my husband, she accused him of moving three hours away “so your wife can be near her pedophile.”

Wow. Deep breath… Wow.

I must confess, the woman knows how to bring me to my knees.

Surely, she must know how difficult it is to be within “hollering distance” of my abuser. A logical, rational mind can’t help but know. I’m left with no choice but to believe her words were sheer malice, the very fruit of bitterness.

What does the bible say about bitterness? Well, here are a few verses:

“Therefore I will not keep silent;
I will speak out in the anguish of my spirit,
I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.” (Job 7:11, NIV)

“I loathe my very life;
therefore I will give free rein to my complaint
and speak out in the bitterness of my soul.” (Job 10:1, NIV)

Each heart knows its own bitterness,
and no one else can share its joy. (Proverbs 14:10, NIV)

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. (Ephesians 4:31, NIV)

But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. (James 3:14, NIV)

Clearly, God wants us to rid ourselves of bitterness, but Job said — more than once — in essence, “My life sucks and I’ve had incredible trials and hardships, so I’m bitter.”

I was about to fire off a spiteful, incredulous text back to the woman whose singular goal was to hurt me, but… I stopped.

The phone was literally in my hand.

What pain, what torment, has taken root in her heart so deeply that the only way to soothe it — even for a moment — is to attack me with the most painful thing I’ve lived through? I thought.

My eyes were opened, and I saw her as a wounded animal, writhing in pain as she struggled with the weight of a burden she couldn’t release, lashing out with claws at anyone who came near.

Isn’t that what we do, when we’re hurt, defeated, overwhelmed, and without hope?

I’ve chosen to pronounce my pain in a very open forum, perhaps giving her an endless supply of stones to cast at me in her hatred.

She… has not chosen a public revelation of her trials.

I don’t need to know what they are. It is enough to know they exist. If they didn’t, she wouldn’t live in the bondage of bitterness.

In so many ways, we are sisters. We share love for the same children, we sometimes get angry with the same man (ha!), and we’ve both suffered. Greatly so, it seems.

It is unproductive for me to harbor hatred and withhold forgiveness. It is unproductive to try to have a conversation with her. I’ve tried. The most productive thing I can do is pray for her, and love her. (Lord, help me with that one, will you?!)

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Matthew 5:43-45, NIV)

…pray for those that persecute you…

May the rain wash away your bitterness, and may God’s love soothe your pain. May you find the gift of forgiveness, and find yourself healed in His glorious light.

Here are some words from my favorite poet, Rumi:

We are the mirror as well as the face in it.
We are tasting the taste this minute of eternity.

We are pain and what cures pain both.
We are the sweet cold water and the jar that pours.

I want to hold you close like a lute so we can cry out with loving.

You would rather throw stones at a mirror?
I am your mirror, and here are the stones.

Please, take all the stones you need. I’m giving them to you.

I’ve already been broken, shattered into a brilliant, reflective masterpiece of glory. A mirror intact reflects one image, and one only. A mirror shattered glistens with light from every angle.

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