Have you ever noticed when you ask God to show you how He wants you to serve Him in a particular season, when given your assignment, the enemy will also throw a few distractions in there? Things that can keep you from drawing close to God and instead threaten to put up walls of anger, unforgiveness, bitterness, disillusionment, or other feelings that keep our prayers from being most effective?
I had a few instances in the past year arise where I had to make a choice. Was I going to choose to dwell on recent experiences and allow anger, unforgiveness and bitterness to grow, or was I going to fight and ask God to help keep any seeds of unsavory character from grabbing hold and taking root?
Anyone who has dealt with hurtful situations knows the choice I’m referring to: dwelling on the conversations, replaying them over and over in one’s mind until you either get the result you want (imaginary result, that is) or feelings of angry, bitterness, and unforgiveness are allowed to spiral out of control.
The alternative isn’t “I won’t think about those things anymore.” That’s unrealistic. God made us as people with emotions. Thoughts will naturally come into our minds, more often at first, when situations are fresh. The alternative is to resist and not give those thoughts any chance to take root when they invade and vie for attention.
You may be asking, how do I do that? The answer is simple, but hard to put into practice. Sing a worship song. Repeat the name of Jesus. If you want extra focus, look up and repeat the different names of God. (Did you know there are distinct, and many separate names for God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit? If you’ve never studied that, it’s a fun study. Then you can repeat and sort out of the names of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit which really takes your mind away from negative emotions!) Pray for the person who caused the negative emotions, praying blessing and favor and perhaps that God will let you see that person through His eyes. That’s a humbling prayer.
The more you practice choosing to focus on God instead of allowing negative emotions to fester, the sooner you will stop having those emotions. You will go days without thinking about the situation and realize you are hearing better from God, your prayers are more effective, and you are happier (or at least more peaceful).
That is how one chooses better over bitter. And the best part? God will take your experience and let you help walk someone else through the process when they need to learn how to choose better instead of bitter.
© Cheri Swalwell 2021