by Shea OakleyThere is a certain cold logic to bitterness. Bitterness appeals most strongly to our sense of right and wrong, to our sense of fairness. Bitterness says that we have a permanent right to hate those who have hurt us or allowed us to be hurt by others. Bitterness is more interested in past losses than present and future gains. It forfeits hope and doesn't care. When we are caught up in the self-indulgent throes of bitterness we would rather lash out at a loving God who would "restore the years the locust has eaten" than allow Him to restore those years to us. Unrepentant bitterness is the biggest barrier to our healing. To be bitter is, by definition, to remain unhealed. Just as we cannot be healed of physical infection unless we are willing to let the doctor touch and cleanse the wound, so our souls cannot heal unless we surrender what ails us to God. Bitterness is a sort of spiritual infection. If we are not truly willing to let God put His hands on this angry, hateful contamination of our soul, He cannot and will not heal us. In fact, the wound analogy can be taken a step further. Imagine having a cut and purposely putting dirt and filth in it. The result of such an action is to make the infection worse and potentially cause it to spread throughout the body. Every time we choose to entertain bitterness we are making the infection stronger within us. This is the patent insanity of holding on to angry unforgiveness. Nursing a grudge is, in effect, sickening ourselves. Actually, this spiritual illness will eventually spread even if we do not actively make it worse by dwelling on it. Ignoring an infected injury ultimately has the same effect as feeding it. Acting as if it isn't there just draws out the period of time in which it does potentially irreparable damage to our lives. Bitterness simply cannot be allowed to be present at all if it is not to destroy us. It must go! But it cannot go if we are not finally willing to let it go. The problem is we get a certain perverse satisfaction in clinging to our hurts. Perhaps it is the stubborn tendency to want to judge others. We do not want to release them to the one true Judge so we hold onto what they have done to us and blame them for it in perpetuity. We would rather hate them than give in to a forgiveness that takes their punishment out of our hands. We get some terrible false gratification from letting a grudge define us. This is a particularly evil form of insanity. The self-inflicted curse of bitterness spits in the face of both the healing and the Healer. It perpetuates wrong relationship with God, others, and ourselves. It is idolatry because the "right" to be bitter is elevated above our absolute imperative to be obedient to God and forgive as He forgives. It is deeply wicked and incredibly destructive to our very souls. Bitterness kills.