Susan Wilson is a sweet, sweet friend and “adopted” sister to me. I’ve known her longer than I’ve known my husband! 😊 We met during the first week of orientation at Appalachian State University in 1991. As the years have gone by, we’ve had many deep discussions about marriage, motherhood, and mountains (physical, spiritual, and emotional ones). It’s been a joy to be her friend for so long and to walk out our individual journeys together.
Recently, I asked her to collaborate with me on a blog post about a mountain that all of us, at some time in our lives, need to throw into the sea. It’s name?
We have all been on the receiving or giving end of bitterness at some point in our lives—and it is not a pleasant experience on either side. So what do we do about it? We can’t navigate someone else’s journey, but we can certainly take responsibility for our own. The next couple of blog posts will be a combination of thoughts, research, and prayer on the subject from Susan and me. As you read, I ask that you consider if there are any places in your life that are covered in the vines and weeds of bitterness and unforgiveness…then ask God how to deprive them of oxygen and rip them out by roots.
Here’s something to chew on today as we finish preparing for the next couple of posts…
Bitterness, which springs from unforgiveness, affects us spiritually…but it affects us physically, as well. And yes, doctors agree. This quote from Hopkinsmedicine.org shows us one perspective:
“There is an enormous physical burden to being hurt and disappointed,” says Karen Swartz, M.D., director of the Mood Disorders Adult Consultation Clinic at The Johns Hopkins Hospital. Chronic anger puts you into a fight-or-flight mode, which results in numerous changes in heart rate, blood pressure and immune response. Those changes, then, increase the risk of depression, heart disease and diabetes, among other conditions. Forgiveness, however, calms stress levels, leading to improved health.” (Karen Swartz, M.D., John Hopkins Medical Center, and https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/forgiveness-your-health-depends-on-it)
And from Piedmont Healthcare:
“Living in a chronic state of tension disables your body’s repair mechanisms, increasing inflammation and the stress hormone cortisol in the body,” she explains. “Forgiveness engages the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps your immune system function more efficiently and makes room for feel-good hormones like serotonin and oxytocin.” The writers warn, “If you are tempted to dwell on an offense, remind yourself what you are doing to your body when you run the scenario in your mind again. Your brain doesn’t know what is real and what is imagined,” says Buttimer. “When you replay in your mind an experience you had six months ago, your body reacts as if you’re having the same experience over and over again.” (You can find the entire article here: https://www.piedmont.org/living-better/what-does-holding-a-grudge-do-to-your-health)
We hope you’ll join us over the next few days as we explore what happens when we choose bitterness over forgiveness…and how that looks in our lives. You can find the other posts in the series through the links below:
Bitter Fruit: https://wordwranglernc.wordpress.com/…/05/04/bitter-fruit/ by Susan Wilson
Bitter Truth: https://wordwranglernc.wordpress.com/…/05/07/bitter-truth/ by Donna (me)
From Bitter to Better https://wordwranglernc.wordpress.com/…/from-bitter-to…/ by Susan Wilson