Thursday, February 3, 2011

Recipe For Bitterness

I have a flour dusted, oil spilled, warped 3 x 5 card that bears the recipe of my mom's famous chocolate chip cookies. That's a recipe everyone begs for. They are delicious, time tested, unforgettable.

Just this morning I came across a recipe for bitterness. Not sure how many will beg for that on a 3 x 5 card, but I hope by sharing it you might see it when its being stirred up in your own life.

Bible: Ruth 3-4 The story of Naomi. It's really the story of Ruth and how God blessed her and kept her, but it's also about Naomi and the recipe for bitterness.

Long story short. Naomi has several sons. They marry and the entire clan moves to a new area. The sons all die. Naomi tells her daughters-in-law to go on with their lives and find new paths. Ruth (one of the daughters-in-law) chooses to stay by Naomi's side and go back to Naomi's homeland with her.

When Naomi goes back to her hometown she is so devastated at how her life has turned out that she tells her friends to call her by a different name. "Mara" - which, interestingly enough, means "bitter mountain".

Naomi says, "The Almighty has made my life very bitter for me. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me home empty. Why should you call me Naomi (which means pleasant) when the Lord has caused me to suffer and has sent such tragedy?"

So, we see a recipe for disaster that could apply to us too.

Step 1. Start with Loss of identity - losing our identity in our hurt
Step 2. Add Blame - blaming God (and others) for our losses - never ourselves
Step 3. Mix in the "Has Been" feelings and the "I had it all once . . . " self-pity and sprinkle in the feeling of being robbed unfairly -
Step 4. Bake on high and seal with a victim mentality of "suffering and tragedy"

Naomi was right smack dab in the middle of her own bitterness - a recipe she cooked up out of her own pain. Sadly, she stayed there for a long long time.

She would not allow her heart to feel joy. She clung to how right she was about God being so wrong. She wanted people to know that she had suffered, that she deserved her agony, and that she was a victim.

I know people like this.

I also know people who have had terrible, tragic circumstances play into their lives and they have chosen to claim their divine God-given gifts and callings, have chosen to focus on giving and serving, and have developed an inner gratitude that is magical. They are contagiously happy, warm, loving and encouraging.

They choose to bake up something different in their lives - something sweet, something worth savoring, something they can scoop up in spoonfuls with their children, that fills their home with an aroma that is remembered forever.

Now that? That's a recipe worth having.

* the day following this blog on bitterness I watched my friend Katie's YOUTUBE video. Katie is one of our Heart 2 Home volunteers and comes out on every project, working right along side everyone else in the dirt, paint and chaos. She's a no excuses kind a gal. I've been inspired by Katie and her choice to pursue sweetness. Watch this video and you'll see exactly what I mean. She could have cooked up some fine tasting bitterness in her life and been justified, but instead she created sweetness - and it blesses EVERYONE around her!