A wise man recently told me that we must avoid bitterness in our hearts at all costs. He borrowed the biblical term “root of bitterness” to describe how a moment of anger can turn into bitterness which, if left alone, will take over our hearts. I appreciated his insight and thought about it for weeks. But tonight I saw firsthand how this can happen, and that advice gave me a framework to deal with it.

There was a moment tonight while Lindsey and I were settling in where I took a small action of Lindsey’s the wrong way. Instead of asking her about it or reacting to it in love, I swallowed it but retained the offense. Two more moments, innocent on her part, which I also took offense at and we were off to the races.

I was not angry, I did not pick a fight, I didn’t even say anything. I just sat there and decided that I deserved to be offended. Once I did that, I let bitterness in.

Honesty time: I was mad at her. I thought about how I didn’t deserve to be offended. I told myself that I was in the right. I told myself that it was my turn to hold the high ground and make her apologize. There was only one problem, none of it was true.

My emotions, my temper, my pride and ultimately my heart was lying to me. I did not have the right to be offended. I did not have a right to try to hold the high ground. Love is primarily the opposite of selfishness. I was not showing her love in those moments, I was only loving myself.

Then and there my error and my transgression was pointed out to me. I thought back to the advice I received and saw what lay ahead if I held onto it. So, I took a moment, said a quick prayer, and then I apologized.

God rooted out my sin in that moment, and gave me a change of heart. The offense is gone and I see the falseness of my actions. Bitterness will not be able to take root..

This was new for me. I have never been conscious of what was going on in my head in these situations before. To see the situation unfold and be aware of it was a big change for me, and a good one. I know I am not going to be perfect in the future, I know that I will fail. It seems to me though that this is a good start.

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