Thanksgiving is the Antidote to Bitterness
“Never succumb to the temptation of bitterness.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
According to thanksgiving-day.org, the first Thanksgiving was celebrated in the fall of 1621. The Pilgrims reached Plymouth rock the previous December. That summer there was a severe drought. The pilgrims prayed and fasted that God would send them a harvest. He did. The first Thanksgiving was celebrated in honor of the unexpected, but much needed harvest. It was to give thanks to God for answering their prayer and supplying their needs.
Two hundred years later Thanksgiving became a national holiday in the United States. It’s a time of thanks, family, and food. I’d actually say it’s more family and food which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. However, expressing thanksgiving honors God, it honors the people in your life, and it feeds your soul. There’s so many benefits to thanksgiving (or gratitude):
- Increases well being
- Decrease depression and PSTD
- Improves sleep
- Helps you be more successful
“Bitterness and resentment only hurt one person, and it’s not the person we’re resenting – it’s us.” – Alana Stewart
When you are working toward something new in your life it calls to attention what’s not currently in your life. I’ve said many time before – if you are alive you will experience a gap between where you are and where you’d like to be. Only dead people don’t have gaps. Only dead people don’t have a vision for something more in their life. That could be a physical death. A lot of times it’s a mental, emotional, or spiritual death.
Life beat you up and you didn’t know how to recover. It broke your heart. The door was slammed in your face and you were right at the threshold. Two more seconds and you would have walked through. Then BAM! Door slammed. So your dreams died. Your beliefs in the invisible died. All the sudden there was no point in dreaming or striving or praying or setting goals or any of that stuff.
“It is hardly possible to build anything if frustration, bitterness and a mood of helplessness prevail.” – Lech Walesa
Dreams deferred can make you bitter. It’s not good to allow bitterness to take up room in your heart. You can’t get bitter against life or God or men or women or coaches or the government or businesses or millionaires…you get the gist. Bitterness is one of those hidden self sabotaging characteristics that holds you back. How can you move forward if you’re bitter? How can you muster up the courage to try again? How do you retain enough faith to not give up on your dreams? How can you see game-changing opportunities when your vision is clouded by bitterness? You can’t. Bitterness holds you back.
When you give thanks it’s hard to be bitter. It’s hard to thank God for the harvest or for your experiences and blessings and be bitter at the same time.
“Bitterness is like cancer. It eats upon the host. But anger is like fire. It burns it all clean.” – Maya Angelou
I was once in a conversation with two women. One was a coach. The other had invested in coaches (but not this particular coach). I could tell the coachee was bitter about her investments. She was so nasty and rude to the coach who was only trying to help. Again, not even the coach she had actually invested in! The tension was so thick you could cut it with a knife as they say. I had to remove myself from that conversation because I don’t do bitterness and I don’t do nasty. Being bitter can bring out the worse in people. It can cause issues where there should be none. It can make people look at you differently. Nobody wants to be around or work with a bitter, nasty person. Like I said, it’s self sabotaging.
As long as you harbor those ill feelings and attitude you can’t move forward. Now if the coachee had an attitude of thankfulness she would have appreciated the experience and the learning. No matter what you always learn something if you choose to. And she likely would have been a nicer, more enjoyable person to conversate with. A healthy debate never hurt anybody. A nasty, bitter filled gripe burns bridges and has people looking at you like you are cray-cray.
“Bitterness and unforgiveness block the flow of God’s blessing in your life and actually hinder your prayers.” – Victoria Osteen
Bitterness has been said to cause:
- A diminished quality of life
- Physical disease
- Emotional distress
- Failed relationships, careers, businesses, etc.
Bitterness is essentially unforgiveness. You walk around with a chip on your shoulder over a situation long gone. It’s past time to let it go. Thanksgiving is shifting your focus to the good things in life. Thanksgiving is appreciating blessings, people, opportunities.
Sometimes we can’t see the true value of a situation in the short run. I’ve had things not work. Doors have been slammed in my face. Relationships I wanted to work didn’t work. Yet, as I grow and learn more about who I am and what I want I’m so thankful. It would have been a mistake and I didn’t even know. Or if you learn something even if it’s not what you thought you’re still better off. There’s no such thing as unlearning or ungrowing. Being bitter in the short run when you don’t know how it plays out in the long run is foolish. You may end up burning your bridges for nothing. You may end up spending years walking around with a chip on your shoulder for nada.
“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” – William Arthur Ward
Take this time of year to be thankful for all of your many blessings and to move past anything that happened that didn’t quite feel like a blessing at the time. Let thanksgiving drown out bitterness. Focus your attention on all the good that has come into your life and all the good that is on it’s way! (Because if you’re still alive – mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally – good is on its way!)
Happy Thanksgiving Eve Eve