Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice… (Eph. 4:31)
Let me call her Eleanor. She was in her seventies. I visited her every month. We would read scripture, pray, share communion together, and then she would launch into bitterly complaining about her mother.
During one visit I asked Eleanor where her mother lived. She said, “She doesn’t live anywhere. She died 20 years ago.”
I said, “I’m confused. You’ve been talking about her like she was alive.”
She said, “She died, but her voice still lives in my head.”
I said, “Did something happen to cause all this pain?”
She said, “Yes. She caught a boy and me playing doctor when we were 12. She scolded me, embarrassed me, shamed me, and called me terrible names. I vowed to never be with another boy to prove her wrong. Look at me now: I’m an old woman. Never married. Never had kids. It’s all my mother’s fault.”
She could tell I was stunned. She asked, “What are you thinking?”
I said, “Eleanor, do you want to die an angry, bitter woman?”
She paused and said, “If you put it that way, then no. What should I do?”
I said, “Let’s invite your mother to be with us each month. And let’s pray that God’s grace can heal your heart.”
Over the next couple of years, I witnessed Eleanor being healed. This healing wasn’t quick or easy or without struggle, but it did come. When Eleanor died, she was still sad, but not angry. She knew some peace, for she lived into the message in today’s scripture. By God’s grace, she had “put way” her bitterness.
If bitterness and anger are consuming or destroying us, I encourage us to ask for God’s help so that we don’t take such emotions to the grave.
Eleanor wasted so much of her life being filled with anger. With God’s grace, I pray that we don’t.
- When Eleanor understood that she could be dying as a bitter and angry woman, she knew she needed to have more peace with her mother. Is there someone you need to make peace with before you finish this life?
- Just how would you like to let go of this life? What do you need to do to finish this life with love and grace and peace?
- Out of shame Eleanor withheld herself from sharing her life with someone else. Do you have any pockets of shame that are keeping you from life and love? If so, is it time to let them go?