A Bitter Root

Bitterness Isolates us from others – Photo by Wang Xi on Unsplash

I found a bitter root in the garden of my soul. It was buried deep and forgotten. I was faced with something I had ignored and forgot about.

14 Strive for peace with everyone, and for that holiness without which no one will see the Lord. 15 [a]See to it that no one be deprived of the grace of God, that no bitter root spring up and cause trouble, through which many may become defiled, [Hebrews 12:14-15 NABRE]

The root of bitterness can lie dormant for a long time. When it finds a bit of water it springs up like the thorny invasive Catbrier vine in my backyard. The vine grows slowly during the drier winter months. Once the summer wet season starts the vine takes off with astonishing speed. Before you know it the fences and shrubs are entangled with the thorny vine. Catbrier has to be dug out by its large tuberous root which lies deep in the ground. Here’s what happened this week:

I was invited to a family baptism for my new great-niece. I avoid most family gatherings because I usually end up in some serious pain. Whether it’s the weather, food, noise, and/or emotional undercurrents. I really wanted to go to this one. One of my Princesses is the Godmother. Of course I wanted to be a part of it. I gave myself all the reasons I should go; It’ll be short, not too much noise (it is in the church building), and the focus will be on the parents and child. I RVSP’d with a yes and a click.

Friday was a stressful day. I also had not been sleeping well all week. I began to worry. What ifs ricocheted in my head. I started coming up with all my usual excuses to not attend. When I woke about midnight early Saturday morning I couldn’t get back to sleep. Worry clawed at me. I started to pray. As I prayed, I worked on a few light chores and did a little writing. About 2:30 a.m. I drifted off to sleep.

When I woke, I had an hour and a half to get ready. I was groggy and had a headache (so what else is new {dripping with sarcasm}). The only thing clear in my head was I knew why I did not want to go to the Baptism.

Don’t let it trip you! – Photo by Takahiro Sakamoto on Unsplash

I did not want to go to that particular church. It had nothing to do with family or even the event. I found a bitter root I was tripping over. We had gone to this particular church for many years. In fact I took my RCIA classes and was confirmed in this church. And yet even with beautiful spiritual memories I did not want to step foot into the building.

Over ten years ago, during my mother-in-law’s funeral, the family, myself included, were treated poorly by the new pastor. Broken-hearted over her death and the callous treatment of the family I still went to the church. That was until the school opened and my children could not afford to attend. Pressure was placed on us as parents to enroll our Princes. Then the Princes started complaining about the catechism classes and how the teachers didn’t want them there. We talked to the pastor and staff. We were told our sons should be attending the school not be in catechism.

Well you can diss me but, diss my Princes! Oh no! That was it! We were out of there so fast it would make your head spin! The thing is, after visiting several churches, God blessed us with a church the Princes liked and had a fantastic youth program. Years later I found out it was the best youth program in the Diocese.

Slowly the wounds healed over and I was able to forgive and move on in my faith. Until this past weekend…I found I still harbored a bitter root in a dusty back corner of my soul. It was unattended waiting for the moment to “spring up and cause trouble, through which many may become defiled…” If I allowed this root to stay, I would defile my own family with bitterness. Do I want my Princes, Princesses, and Family to have the big old MOM STAMP of approval on bitterness! I do not want anyone to be “deprived of the grace of God.” Absolutely not! That’s when I began my Rosary as I got ready for the baptism celebration.

The root of bitterness in my soul took some digging to figure it out. And don’t think I didn’t get pricked by its thorns of temptation. I wanted to hold onto that bitterness. The difference now is I want to walk with God more.

Forgiveness soothes the spirit. That is how I got rid of the root. While in prayer I dug it up. Since the root has no thorns, I let my soul grasp it, look at it and analyze just what happened. It was ugly. Not something I want in my garden. What do I do to eradicate the bitterness? Here’s what I found, I follow the Lord’s Prayer [Matthew 6:9-13]:

I forgive the person, event, or whatever caused the bitterness to take hold. Then I ask for God’s forgiveness for my sin in harboring the bitter root.

Did it work this weekend? Oh yes! I enjoyed the baptism of my great-niece into a Christian and Catholic home to be raised in the path of Faith. Above all, the church building held love. Instead of stewing in bitterness, I was able to focus on the love of the parents for this precious child, love of family, and love of the Christian-Catholic community. Mostly I felt the love of God for all of us. I am truly blessed.

I know it’s not easy to do the weeding. I lost a night of sleep over it before I knew what I had to do. It’s not fun forgiving when you don’t want to it let go. It’s not pleasant to realize your sin and ask to be forgiven. BUT…and this is a big but! It’s worth it to walk closer to the Lord and everyone around you.

God Bless


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