Recently, like yesterday, I found out that I have been a bitter person. I never considered myself to ever be one of those kind of folks… You know the type, they have that look on their face like they were just Baptized in bile. I am usually lighthearted, I have a good sense of humor and I am kind to others. So, for me to be one of those bitter people just isn’t possible. Is it?
At my lunch hour, I often drive around the back roads and pray the Rosary. I am not in a hurry and that seems to be good time for me to reflect and concentrate on the mysteries. A few weeks ago, I was praying the Rosary when one of those dumb, bad drivers slowly pulled out in front of me. All I know is that is caused me to cuss a bit and throw insults at the poor unknown driver… Right in the middle of the Rosary. The shame of my actions hit me kind of hard. I did beat myself up for that and I also mentioned it in Confession. Nevertheless, I still didn’t get why I would do something so rude for no good reason.
This last Friday evening after work, I decided to relax in front of the TV. Well, the news was showing how the rioters and protesters stopped Donald Trump’s campaign rally. Now, I am not a big Trump supporter. But I do support the Bill of Rights and these people are allowed to protest but they shouldn’t be allowed to stop someone else from speaking. Which they are very proud to admit they did. They were asking some of the young protesters why they did this, and they couldn’t answer. I was furious at what I was hearing coming out of the mouths of our so called, intelligentsia. Then, I hear that a lot of these people are paid protesters. ( I didn’t even know that was a career) They get hired by some powerful group or person to disrupt and cause chaos. Well, needless to say, I began shouting at the TV with such anger the dogs ran out of the room. My wife though, knew just what to say to me.. “Maybe you should write that stuff down you just shouted for your Humble Ox blog.” I swear, one of these days she is going to stick her foot in her mouth, and I will be right there with a quick and most clever retort… But until that blissful moment occurs, I will have to remain quiet! Her comment did make me laugh, but it also made me think.
We discussed things a bit and then I began telling her about stuff that happened long ago. I brought up old arguments that I had with my siblings nearly 30 years ago like they had just happened yesterday. I was still furious and demanded reconciliation. In just a few moments though I began to realize something within that I knew I had to change. I had just realized that for quite a few years now, I have been a bitter, angry, and unforgiving man. I needed God’s help….
We went to Mass on Saturday, so Sunday morning I decided to head out to our homestead just over the border in northern Nevada. Out there, I look over our beautiful chunk of high desert and I soon realize how good God has been to us. I knew I needed to pray, and try to obtain mercy for my unforgiving nature. I listened to a great CD from a Protestant speaker, David Bercot titled, How to Gain Victory over Bitterness, Scroll Publishing. The message hit me in the heart. He mentioned scriptures that I have heard all my life, just never quite so personally. I guess it really does make a difference when you pray and then read His Word. Mathew 5: 43-48 comes directly from Jesus himself. Bercot also mentioned something that I had never thought about. Jesus does forgive us all, but there is a condition… We must forgive all others in order to receive His forgiveness. If we can do that, we will have joy and peace. The bitterness will be gone. St. Paul told us in Ephesians 4: 31-32 “ Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” After all, a Christian should be joyful, and never bitter. That goes against the Gospel.
So, I prayed the Jesus Prayer, and I told God that I am giving him my bitterness and forgiving all of those that have done me wrong as well as asking God to forgive me for doing wrong to others. I felt like this time, it actually worked, because I really got rid of a ton of junk that was only weighting me down. I will have to work at this. I read a good article by Dr. Gregory Popcack titled, Five Steps to Overcome Bitterness. That article contains some good advice to help stay on track. Again, I have heard this message all my life. Why did I not ever pay attention? Finally, through prayer and the Word, I took the message personal, and it is starting to make a difference. Hopefully, my wife will soon see some changes in me, as well as my dogs!