Thursday, January 22, 2009

Let Bitterness Be Put Away From You

originally posted at modern molly mormon

How do I put away feelings that I didn't ask for in the first place, emotions that I feel so strongly?
The scriptures suggest that bitterness is not something just to be tolerated but something to be given up. Paul counseled, "Let all put away from you, with all malice: and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you." (Eph. 4:31-32.)
We must reconsider our view of where bad feelings come from. Bitterness, and feelings like it, cannot develop into a lasting attitude unless we cultivate these feelings. In clinging to bitterness, we blind ourselves to the fact that we are doing just that.
When we harden our hearts, gospel counsel looks unrealistic or impossible. But when we soften our hearts, amazingly, we begin to ask different questions of ourselves and allow the Lord to comfort us in our search of peace. A scriptural example of this is the account of Enoch's vision. When Enoch was shown the fate of those in the Flood, "he had bitterness of soul, and wept over his brethren, and said unto the heavens: I will refuse to be comforted." (Moses 7:44).
Even Enoch had to learn that to refuse to be comforted is to consciously spurn the comfort of God. "The Lord said unto Enoch: Lift up your heart, and be glad; and look." (Moses 7:44). Enoch's refusal to be comforted and his bitterness of soul went hand in hand. Yet the Lord did not abandon him, but continues the vision, showing Enoch that the descendants of Noah would all be given the possibility of sanctification and eternal life.
If the Atonement is applicable to Enoch, who repented of his "bitterness of soul," then persons suffering bitterness about abuse, about divorce, about any negative experience can similarly repent and similarly receive comfort. But we must first accept the idea that we are agents, capable of acting rather than simply being acted upon. We gain greater understanding by asking ourselves the following questions:
Have I refused to be comforted by the Lord?
In prayer have I truly sought meekness and lowliness of heart in order to be comforted by the Lord?
Am I willing to cast my burden on the Savior so that I can get on with life and be at peace?
Excerpts taken from 'Freedom From Bitterness' in the 1991 Ensign, by Terrence Olsen

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