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Bitter or Better?

In the forward to my book, Steps to Hope, I wrote: “To my four wonderful children. You taught me in unforgettable ways that we can either be “bitter” about our trials in life, or “better” because of them. Together we learned that the difference between bitterness and betterment is one letter and one person. I.”

My ever lovin’ likes to sleep with the TV on. Which bothers me. A lot. It’s not just the running commentary that stirs up my monkey brains and ramps up my anxiety,  the bright light keeps me from falling to sleep. Our daughter got him a gizmo he calls his juke box which allows him to channel the sound directly to him, helping the sound part if not the light. Which takes us back to that forward in my book. “The difference between bitterness and betterment is one letter and one person. I.”  

Most of our problems can be traced to our attitude. The ways we choose to interpret and understand what’s happening. We are the ones who put a specific spin on things, which then turns whatever into a psychic canker sore or an opportunity for growth. For a number of years we resolved our sleep issues by my sleeping in another room, but with his illness that is no longer an option. Aware the TV gives him something to do instead of tossing and turning when he can’t sleep, I am choosing to wear earplugs and a facemask, even pulling the covers up over my head when desperate. Taking my Kindle to bed so I can read myself to sleep also helps when all else fails.  

It’s so easy to demand others do the changing or find a workable solution. But the Serenity Prayer puts the responsibility back in our laps. After all, it’s our feelings and attitudes that cause our distress. That doesn’t excuse the other person, of course, but it does give us options we can do to improve things for ourselves. “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

I am reminded of the New Zealand Prayer Book’s  translation of the Lord’s Prayer and the line that reads “In the hurts we absorb from one another, forgive us” instead of “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”   When we pray, “In the hurts we absorb from one another, forgive us” we are acknowledging it’s our response to life’s ongoing challenges that are all important for us as individuals and determine whether we choose to become bitter or better.  When I am able to accept that it’s my response that creates my hurts, wounds, and complicated feelings, not the event itself, I am in a position to change what needs to be changed and to forgive myself for inflicting additional injuries on myself.

“Eternal Spirit, Source of all that is and shall be, May the hallowing of your Name echo through the universe. May the way of your justice be followed by the people of the world. May your heavenly will be done by all created beings. May your commonwealth of peace and freedom sustain our hope and come on earth. With the bread we need, feed us. In the hurts we absorb from one another, forgive us. In times of temptation and test, strengthen us. From the grip of all that is evil, free us. For you reign in the glory of the power that is love, now and forever. Amen.”

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