Yesterday, I was venting some concerns about some friends of mine to my husband and this term popped out of my mouth, “Bitter Buddies.” He said, “Did you just make that up? Because that’s pretty good.” I said, “yeah, it just came out, but that’s what they are right now.” I googled it later and turns out it’s been a term for long enough to be on Urban Dictionary so I guess I’m not as clever as I think. Lol.
Anyway, it got me thinking about how many times I’ve found myself in a similar place, similar relationship. If I get mad at someone or someone has hurt my feelings my natural instinct is to tell someone else that will help me justify my feelings. At times this has created a lot of unnecessary pain, sometimes stress and anxiety, but mostly bitterness. It’s crazy how quickly things can escalate if we allow ourselves to be distracted by the hurt. It can go from a comment that someone made (most likely) unintentionally to an all-out paranoid hatred in a matter of weeks. That tiny little seed the enemy planted in your mind didn’t have to turn to anything, but you took it to your bitter buddy instead of the Father and gave it water.
Let me tell you a story. I am extremely close to my older brother, well I used to be. A few years ago I was in a pretty bad place with my job. I plan on going into more detail about that entire situation in a different post, but let’s just say I had let my heart and mind be completely overtaken by pride. I couldn’t hardly think straight because I was constantly angry every day I went to work. I would come home and spend the evening complaining and crying to my husband about how ridiculous it was, how miserable I was, etc. I never prayed about it. During this time, a job opening came open with my brother’s ministry for an assistant. It was a bit of a different direction than what my degree had anything to do with or the past three years of work experience I had, but I desperately needed a change and I just knew I was qualified for an assistant job. I talked to my brother who had some reservations, but still let me come for an interview. I just knew I would get the job because I am awesome at interviews. Like for real. I went in and answered every questions with ease and even addressed the reservations my brother had among the other in the interview so they would know just how professional I was. *side note, I’m telling you what my mindset was then so you can get an idea of just how prideful I had gotten* Basically, in my mind I had rocked it. There was no way I wouldn’t get that job. Except, I didn’t. My brother took me to lunch and told me it had nothing to do with my abilities, but they were really looking for someone that could help more on the financial side of things and I didn’t have those qualifications. There was also the pay, I had stated a salary requirement and they just couldn’t meet that at that time. I begged him to give me a chance because I was a fast learner and he wouldn’t regret it, told him they could pay me anything, blah blah blah.. I didn’t get it. I was okay with it for the most part because I felt like I was given a fair chance, plus I really felt like I needed at least the amount of money I stated. I tried to resolve myself that it just wasn’t the right time. Going into work the next day was extra tough, but I told myself God would move me when the time was right. See, I was really good at “trusting God’s plan” without actually seeking Him or trying to find the plan. It’s taken me a long time to realize it doesn’t really work that way, at least not well.
Anyway, a few weeks after that I found out who was hired for the position. I legitimately thought she was a good fit and it made sense since my brother said they needed someone with a financial background and she had that. Except, we were at lunch with a group of people and someone mentioned her previous work experience as a dental hygienist or something like that. I kept my composure on the outside, but on the inside I started fuming. I had more experience than someone who cleaned teeth! I could offer way more help than someone who went to community college! I was involved in ministry already, I had a marketing degree, I had a Bible minor for goodness sake! Y’all the crazy thoughts were brewing and I soaked it all in. Never one time did I say anything out loud, but I looked right at my bro and wanted him to know that I knew he was full of crap. Like I could telepathically let him in on the crazy train in my brain. Not sure if he got that or not, but I like to think he did. It was so bad. I let one little piece of information (unverified) start me down a bad path and now I had reason to believe I was going the right way. I think that’s where my bitterness started, maybe it started before, but I could almost taste it then. and you know what I did… I went to my husband, I went to my dad and my sister, probably others if I really thought about it. I complained, I was mad, I was hateful and I never ever prayed about it. I didn’t want to. I was hurt. I watered that seed every chance I got. I pretended I was okay, but I wasn’t.
A month or two later, my husband and I ended up on a trip with my brother, his wife, and the woman who got the job and her husband. I was super excited about it. I needed a break from work and it had been a long time since I felt like anyone had wanted to do anything with me or my husband (another prob for another post). My husband was nervous about going, but I pushed and pushed to go. Let’s just say the trip did not go well. I went in with a positive mindset, but I let my insecurities get the best of me. I felt like the entire trip my husband and I weren’t wanted. I can look back now and after later conversations see how my actions and words created that distance, but my heart was hurt then and I definitely wasn’t thinking about anything through a clear lens. I was too angry. When we got back, I went to every person I was close to (basically, my dad, sister and cousin) and told them the story of how awful everyone had been to us. I never went to to my brother though, never found out what he thought. I was not only watering the seed at this point, but putting it into a new and bigger pot with fresh soil.
I stopped talking to my brother in a friendly way. I no longer participated in any part of ministry. I stopped attending church on a regular basis. I didn’t go to his house, I didn’t try to hang out with my sister in law. Nothing. Oh and let me tell you, I felt extremely justified. I was still miserable at my job and still crying to my husband on a daily basis. Now, I felt like I had no friends and like part of my family was gone. And I found bitter buddies… it’s super easy to do. Scary how easy. My teeny little seed had grown into a full blown tree and taken root in my heart. I was bitter and angry in a way I had never been before and it separated me from God in a way I had never been before. And I was so involved in keeping my new plant alive that I was blind to it.
I’ll save you the next couple of years… yes people, I said YEARS, worth of deep dark bitter crap that I put myself through. It is what I refer to now as my Season of Isolation and thankfully God was always right there with me, waiting on me to give everything to him. I had gotten myself entrapped in this awful place, this angry and bitter place. It was truly one of the worst places I had been in and it was all my own doing. I began to struggle with things I had NEVER struggled with, things like gossip, unforgiveness, lying, hatefulness, etc. I am genuinely ashamed of it all. I also want to stress that I don’t think anyone, but me knew how bad I had gotten, not even my husband. I was still okay on the outside, but my heart was entangled. I still went to church sometimes and loved people and put on a great happy show, but it was all put on in hopes that my misery would disappear. Never fully giving it to God, but keeping it for myself. It was almost my new comfort… being bitter. My bitter blanket. Thank God is who He is even when we are who we are.
I finally got to a place where I quit my job. At the time, I felt like I had been pushed to that point by the actions of others, but I also think God had been gently encouraging me to leave for a long time, but I wasn’t listening so he gave me the harder push I needed to start me on the healing journey before I completely realized what was happening. I found a new job within a month, making quite a bit less than what I was making, but I didn’t care because I was in a place where I felt liked, appreciated, wanted. I was starting to see light again. Looking back now, I can see how much the Holy Spirit was just waiting to show me.
Then the unthinkable happened. Literally two weeks after I started my new job, my cousin died of an overdose. We had grown up together and at one point he was one of my best friends, but he had a drug problem and I had a bitter problem and he was just another person for me to be angry at. I was angry at him when he died. Losing someone you love is hard no matter what, but losing someone you’re angry at creates an entire new level of grief and guilt. I prayed that day and the days that followed in a way I hadn’t prayed in a long time and I can only look back now and see it that way. It was one of the first times in years that I was asking God for true help. He immediately began to heal me. There was no hesitation. He truly is a God of love and will always meet you when you seek him. He showed me the ugly parts of myself that I had tried to keep hidden and let me fully pour out my guilt and heartache I had with my cousin in his arms. During the days after his death I had an interaction with my brother that washed away all the negative feelings I had let build up. The Spirit was there teaching me during this time of intense mourning, showing me that holding on to such hard and dark feelings wasn’t worth it. We will all cease to be here on this Earth at some point and it will go quicker than any of us know.
Letting the enemy distract and separate us from God is sin, period. Having anger or frustration for a time period is okay. We are allowed to have emotions, but the minute we let those feelings cause separation from the Father, then it becomes sin. And if you allow it to continue from there, it will give birth to something even bigger and uglier. Eventually death. (James 1:15, but go ahead and just read all of James)Death in your marriage, your friendships and family, your purpose, you name it. Guys, it’s not worth it. Lay the pride down now. You do not have to be right, you do not have to wait for someone to apologize even if you truly think you deserve it. Humans are humans and they will hurt us and makes us angry… who cares? You’ve done it to someone too. Communicate things… talk things out. TAKE IT TO GOD AND ASK FOR HELP. Those years of my life taught me so much and I’m grateful for parts of them, but I’m telling you if I could go back and recognize how prideful I had gotten before I lost years of my life doing NOTHING for anyone except myself I would. If I could go back and show more love to my cousin instead of letting him be just another thing to be angry about, I would. Don’t waste so much time with stuff that doesn’t matter. We’re not as righteous as we like to think.
I know this was a long post, but I wanted to fully illustrate how important it is to recognize how and when some of those feelings start. It’s so simple and can seem so small at first, but if we aren’t careful and aren’t in constant communication with God, it can easily turn into something bigger. Work on taking all of your issues and concerns to Jesus no matter what they look like. That’s why He came to Earth to begin with… to be with us. To experience life with us. To intercede for us. Let him be your confidant, your true friend. Don’t find yourself with a bitter buddy when he’s right there to take it from you.
*I somehow unpublished this when trying to edit so I have to republish. I believe original post date was sometime early Aug 2019*