Christians have an odd obsession with other people’s bitterness. At least that what it looks like to me and others who go through trials.
One example of this is that from the time I went public with the abuse, I have been accused on a fairly regular basis of being bitter, and not just by my abusers. The more I open up about the struggles I’ve faced and continue to face, the more often I am accused of being bitter.
It wasn’t until a friend of mine wrote out something that was happening to her in the midst of her trial and felt inclined to qualify it with “I’m not bitter, I’m only conveying what’s happening and how I feel,” that I realized this is a thing. And it’s a really bad thing.
Firstly, to accuse a person of bitterness, especially a person you don’t really know, and let’s face it, how many of us bother to truly get to know people anymore, is the height of presumption. To assume from a few public posts on a blog or on Facebook, or from a few brief conversations in a church courtyard, that a person is bitter is well, pathetic at best.
We cannot tell what a person truly is unless we’ve bothered to take the time to get to know them. We cannot get to know a person by seeing them only on Sunday or limiting our contact with them to social media. Because that is not knowledge, that is assumption. And our society in general is a negative one so our assumptions about others are almost always negative.
Best example of this is a post I had a few weeks ago about how I was going to do my first four days in a row at work and I was going to be really tired. The immediate response was an accusation of my ingratitude. Why? I have no idea, I don’t really know the person, but I do know our society views almost everything through the lens of negativity. I have never once complained about my work. I have posted nothing but positive things about my work, yet this person I hardly know, who hardly knows me, felt the need to attack me for my supposed ingratitude when I was stating that I was going to be tired. You know, a nice “man, that sounds tough, I’ll be praying for you,” would have been more appropriate. But we can’t do that. We can’t support, we can only tear down and attack.
Now, I know that truthfully it’s the few that do this, most of the people I know are supportive or they just outright ignore me for whatever their reason is (I’m too old to care anymore about what their reason is. :D). But the negative people can tear others down and when you’re in the midst of a trial, you don’t need that.
Which brings me to my second point…
Just because a person doesn’t heal on your timeline, doesn’t mean they’re bitter. Healing takes time, and the rougher the circumstances, the more time it takes. It took me ten years to heal from what happened to Spock. That was mostly because I was being abused and I had zero support from my jerk of a spouse. He tore me down, belittled my sadness, etc, etc. This made the healing take longer. But no one knew that because no one knew me. I couldn’t let them know me because I would then have to reveal the abuse. But not knowing me didn’t stop the people from assuming the reason for my pain.
I once heard a really lame saying that actually applies perfectly to this situation…
When you assume you make an “ass” of “u” and “me.” It’s true. You also break the relationship. You also prove yourself untrustworthy and people going through abuse cannot afford to have untrustworthy people around them and the stronger they get the less they will want you around because they’ve learned that life is too difficult to keep people around who are just going to assume that sadness is bitterness and that pain is anger and that tears are selfishness and that anything you say is used against you even if you are just giving out information.
So, stop attacking people. Ask questions. Clarify. Stop thinking that just because a person deals with things differently than you do or than you want them to do that they are doing it wrong. Really, your accusations say nothing about the person and everything about you.