Tuesday, June 28, 2011

are you better or bitter?

I had the opportunity to attend a Beth Moore conference in Lincoln last weekend. The topic was "Knowing Better," and she split her teaching into two sections: "When 'better' is 'bitter'" and "When 'better' is 'better.'" I've dealt with bitterness in my life (and even blogged about it before, though I didn't really explain at the time that I was dealing with it), and I thought that was something I'd "overcome." God must have chuckled and shaken His head when I had that thought!

Two of Beth's four points on bitterness really hit home for me. They're perhaps not bitterness in the traditional sense of the word (I can still recall how it felt to be bitter--that ball of bile in the pit of my stomach, the tension whenever the subject I was bitter about came up--and that's certainly not how I feel in regard to these things), but left unchecked, they could certainly lead to a deep, debilitating bitterness.
  1. When better is before. Beth made a great point here when she said we tend to romanticize the past. While I certainly had the most fun of my life in college, I know it wasn't the perfect time--but all I remember are the good things. So it's easy to look back and say, "I wish I could go back!" This definitely applies to my church experience. I attended an amazing church in college. When I left Indiana, I mourned leaving Christ's Covenant behind. For the first time in my life, I had actually anticipated going to church! Not so when I arrived home. For four years, I attended two churches at various times, and I wasn't really happy at either of them. Finally, after I prayed about it, I felt God leading me to my current church. It's not perfect--and there are still aspects of Christ's Covenant that I miss--but I'm confident I am where God wants me to be. So confident, in fact, that I just became a member! So this point for me was more of a reminder of where I've been ... and a reminder not to go back there.
  2. When better is someone besides me. Beth spent much of Friday night camped out on this point ... and with good reason, as she was speaking to a group of women! We're known for comparing ourselves to each other. While this isn't an area I have much trouble with, one thing Beth said really stuck out to me: "True humility is wrapped in security." False humility--saying, "Oh, it was nothing," when praised in an effort to get the other person to reaffirm us--is actually a twisted form of pride. I'd heard this before, but it was a good reminder.
  3. When better is the route I didn't take. Ouch! This one screams "Becky!" all over it. It's wrapped up in the idea of "if only." If only I'd accepted the offer to stay on at the publishing company where I interned in college. If only I'd gone through with my plans of getting my library science degree. If only I'd pursued another job after paying off my loans. If only, if only, if only. Here's the thing--I am basically happy with my life. Of course there are things I wish were different, but over all, it's good. I like my job. I love my students. I enjoy being able to see my family all the time. But when I start dwelling on the "if onlys," I become discontent so quickly.
  4. When better is what you should have known. Can I get an "amen"? "I should have known better than to ..." Or how about this one: "I did know better, and I did it anyway!" I could completely identify with this, as I tend to continue to beat myself up over things I've done or said--sometimes even years after the fact! Here, Beth pointed out the difference between regret and repentance: regret looks back, while repentance moves on
God used this conference to point out areas in my life I need to work on, as well as to show me how far I've come in other areas. It was a wonderful time, and I'm so glad I was able to experience it with my mom!

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