The Challenge of Living Bitter Free

 

When I wrote the book Bitter Free in 2015, it was not from a place of theory or book knowledge. Little did I know in 2004 when I went all in for personal healing and transformation, that I would be challenged to the core relationaly. When Jesus said in the last days hatred would increase, betrayal would abound and the love of many would grow cold, He was not kidding.

I took a step out to risk it all for helping people heal and walk with an overcomers heart and rise to walk in relationship transformation. Somewhat naive to the condition of people’s hearts, I thought, “Who wouldn’t want to experience greater freedom and healing and in their life?”

Boy was I in for a rude awakening.

The realization of how much the enemy owned people’s thought and choices was overwhelming. Not only was there so much destruction in people’s lives, their ammunition would come firing at me. Whether it was direct fire or collateral damage, the explosions of bondage sought to defile me into a sea of bitterness.

I experienced more relational hurt than I ever did in the decades before I went “all in” for the overcoming life. I was challenged to the core. I felt the sting of betrayal from friends, neighbors and those that I was simply trying to help.

The abandonment came from those who said they would help, but would walk away so easily offended. If I had a nickel for the people who would pledge one day “I am all in,” only to never be seen again… So many would pledge support in words, only to disappear in action.

PS, if you think I am talking about you, relax. I don’t broadcast these issues or wear the pain on my Facebook page. Most people are not even aware of how their actions affected me and many others. Even when I tried to talk with them about it, the conversation would go sour. Too often people that hurt others are really just thinking of themselves. So many simply got knotted up in their own problems and personal brokenness, they had no time to see outside that.

God spoke to my heart in this season. I felt Him saying, “Are you willing to love people and equip them for healing, even if many reject you or hurt you back in response?” This was a tough question to answer, but one I was willing to face. I can’t say I lived in it fully every day. I was still so shocked at how much believers were owned by the enemy.

I found myself receiving better responses from non-church people than those who called themselves followers of Christ. I would correspond with those who talked like they were comrades but would ignore my own season of hardship. I learned the hard way that most people get so lost in their problems that they become terrible friends. I would send emails for help and connection, only to get crickets. Something was really wrong!

It was in this time that living bitter free became formed in me through experiencing a lot of pain. I had a choice. Either the arrows that came at me would inject deep bitterness, or I would have to grow to a level I never walked in before.

The pages of that book became my own personal strategy to walk free in the midst of darkness. Besides what is in the book, here are some things I have had to learn to lot let the enemy get the best of me in trying situations with people.

1. Many people just wont run with you.

You cannot take that personally. A lot of times it has nothing to do with you, but their own brokenness and focus on themselves.

2. Many do not want to deal with their issues.

They would rather remain in status quo of comfortability than face their pain and brokenness to go to the next level.

3. Its easier to blame than take responsibility.

It is so much easier to blame my marriage struggles on my wife, ministry struggles on other people or limitations on what other people have or have not done. I ran into many who would rather blame their last pastor than deal with their own offended life. It is a lot harder to let God look at my heart and challenge me to go to the next level.

4. I can ignore the pain or face it and deal with it.

I was one who shoved a lot of things down in the past. I would rather avoid the pain and move on than face what hurt and wounded me.

5. Healthy conflict resolution is really only for the overcomer.

I believe one of the opposites of an overcomer is a coward. One of the signs of a coward is they run from any confrontation or hard relational issue.

I always wondered why in the book of Revelation, “cowards” were listed with the sexually immoral, murders and other sins. Yet I have learned that cowards create severe damage in organizations and families, because they never deal with issues in relationships. They can often be the most dangerous people in a group. They take the road of least resistance while the enemy devours their church, family and coworkers. They often allow more damage by their passivity than those who offensively destroy relationships.

6. What offends you and tempts you to be bitter reveals where you need to grow.

We love to blame other people for our problems. I know pastors who would love to do ministry, just without any people. Sometimes I don’t blame them. Yet we have to make the decision to grow in how we approach relationship and where we need love, grace and forgiveness to have a greater work in our lives.

7. The enemy is using more and more people to spread toxicity, so we must keep a spiritual lens on.

We also cannot hide and isolate. Creating a log cabin in the woods away from humanity may sound nice, but it does nothing to lay an imprint of the Kingdom in people’s hearts. You cannot make a difference for God if you don’t know how to do relationships. I don’t care how spiritual you think you are.

8. Sometimes your anger is actually connected to something God is feeling over the land.

I had a dear friend in ministry point this out to me as I grieved over what I saw in the church and in our generation. I was working hard to rid myself of this frustration, when this friend said to me, “I think you are feeling the ache of God over the land.” When I noticed that, it caused me to immediately be more moved with compassion to make a difference, rather than sit in bitterness.

9. What I am able to handle now will determine my level of operation in the future.

I have a choice. Do I want to remain stuck here, or do I want to grow? Will I wait for people to change or will I make the decision today to change and grow to the level of my walk? That choice is always mine.

10. I cannot carry the sin of others into my own being.

Releasing and forgiving other people really helps me not to take their sin issues into my own life. Bitterness is the enemy’s way of spreading the defilement of sin in the lives of everyone. It stops dead in its tracks when we forbid other people’s negative choices to affect our being.

11. As I forgive others, I must also forgive and release myself.

I have learned that being kind and gracious to myself is a gift to my health and wholeness. The junk of others can often cause me to be hard on myself. I would often think I was the problem or things we always my fault. This was a terrible trap, until I saw the enemy’s plan in this area. Being kind to myself, staying out of guilt and not listening to accusation, helped me to remain free of any shrapnel the enemy used through others to contaminate me.

Living bitter free is a choice, but who wants to join me as an overcomer to live in greater freedom?

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Mark DeJesus has been equipping people in a full time capacity since 1995, serving in various roles, including, teaching people of all ages, communicating through music, authoring books, leading and mentoring. Mark's deepest love is his family; his wife Melissa, son Maximus and daughter Abigail. Mark is a teacher, author and mentor who uses many communication mediums, including the written word, a weekly radio podcast show and videos. His deepest call involves equipping people to live as overcomers. Through understanding inside out transformation, Mark's message involves getting to the root of issues that contribute to the breakdown of our relationships, our health and our day to day peace. He is passionately reaching his world with a transforming message of love, healing and freedom. Out of their own personal renewal, Mark and Melissa founded Turning Hearts Ministries, a ministry dedicated to inside out transformation. Mark also founded Transformed You, a communication platform for Mark’s teachings, writing and broadcasts that are designed to encourage people in their journey of transformation. Mark and Melissa currently live in Connecticut.

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  • Lyn Wojcik

    Thanks Mark, I can relate in that I find myself at times in a situation where I could let bitterness take over and cloud my view of things or dig deep and grow up more, allowing love to enter more fully. It is never a pretty process weeding through the bitterness that courses through your whole body, but in the end it is so fulfilling to press in and seek God’s love and wisdom more deeply. Facing the pain is better, though we so often run from it! I’d rather not be a victim, despite whatever is happening around me. I can’t control what is happening, but I can decide I’d like to grow through the challenges, and that is ultimately very satisfying.

    • Right on Lyn! Thanks for writing and your great feedback. Keep overcoming!

  • DE3

    Thank you for writing this article. These truths are hard to accept, because I grieve for the people I can’t love or help because they won’t walk in the journey of being an overcomer. They find false comfort and identity in sources other than God, and when they are given the truth and they reject it anyway, I feel as if I can’t do anything but pray for them that they choose a better path and then I have to walk away. It’s a transformation I’m trying to navigate through right now that many, many will reject the path of an overcomer. My heart is so broken. I can hardly bear it to comprehend that so many people would find contentment in shallow waters when God is inviting them to cast their net on the other side. I cannot comprehend that people would reject Jesus Christ – who is the way, the truth, and the life. I’m going to have to let this grief go soon, God willing, that I may regain focus, more and more on what He is doing in me. I have to get that through my head – that I cannot carry the sin of others into my own being. Thank you for sharing point #8 – Sometimes your anger is actually connected to something God is feeling over the land.
    I think this happens to me a lot and I get confused because I don’t know if it is me or God, but it is undeniable that I am feeling something very strong when my body is reacting to the atmosphere. It’s not really fun, except when it is the presence of joy, but I’m not complaining!
    I’m sorry that people have given you crickets when you reached out. I’m encouraged to hear you can heal from that. I’ve got some crickets right now, so I’m glad to know that others have overcome, so I can too.

    • Thanks for writing this and for your heart-felt thoughts. I believe that in this season, God is raising up people who will create safe places for others to heal, but yet rise up as overcomers. There is much entanglement out there. One of the things overcomers have to face is grieving others who just want to stay in the shallow end of man-made safety and control. Good news is that in God, we can forgive those and watch God release justice over our lives in His time and plan. Thanks for going “all-in” with Him!

  • Webbgurl2000

    God is doing a mighty work in my life because of the pain of my husband’s betrayal and his sexual addiction.
    I just wanted to be safe and loved after growing up in a home full of verbal, emotional, and sexual infidelity.
    It turned out I was trading one pain for another by dating too early (14) and marrying at (18).
    I had no idea he was from an alcoholic home because for the most part he was good to me. And never stared or even looked at other women.
    The devil knew we were both insecure. Even though I had accepted Christ early, I didn’t understand who I was in him, and my root of rejection was fed by a narcissistic mother and abandoning father/ sexually addicted step father.
    My husband had no spiritual upbringing unless you count the Church of Alcohol & Self Reliance built at the Altar of a rejecting Father and a mother who doted on him, but wanted him to grow up and fulfill her goals.
    Now, we’re a mess!
    I find out about his addiction 30 years in the future, and even though he’s in recovery, and born again; it’s taken its toll in every part of our lives: spiritually, financially, emotionally, mentally, etc.
    I’m just trying to forgive. It’s strange, Mark.
    Because there are times that I have felt God allowed me to feel trade places in the spirit ( for a little while) with the people who hurt me, including my husband!
    I could actually,hear what they were saying and feel the pain of what they actual did to themselves while trying to get their needs met doing sinful acts!
    I’m not going to be explicit. But, it wasn’t as fun for them as I previously thought! Sin never is. But, the evil one had been torturing me with what my husband had done with these females even years ago to keep me hurt and bitter.
    But, it’s like God allowed me to see that they felt repulsed immediately after these sexual acts, and wish they had never done them.
    I know it sounds weird.
    I just want to be free. I hope to help other women who have been wounded by infidelity in the Body of Christ, but I won’t if I don’t survive my own crisis.
    I know that God is fighting for me, but pray I will do my part!!!
    Thank you and Melissa for your Ministry🙏🏽👏🏾🙏🏽

    • Thanks so much for writing and sharing your heart/story. We’re so glad we can be a source of encouragement for your healing journey. Thanks for taking the time to write. It is our heart’s passion to see you become all that God intended!