Going through some of my daughter's things, I ran across an interesting little article she wrote for the newspaper where we formerly lived. She began writing at age 12 or so, and wrote until she graduated high school. She became a local favorite and took her job seriously.
The summer of 2000 she attended the Wilds camp with her church youth group. Dr. Tom Ferrel was the guest speaker, and the messages led way to some serious "soul-searching" and some life long change in Kristin's life. Here is a little excerpt from that week's column, I thought you'd enjoy. Kristin was 14 years old:
The Blight of Bitterness
Bitterness is one thing I have never given much thought to until the Lord showed me some things through a sermon at camp dealing with bitterness.
Often times I think bitterness can creep in without one even knowing it. At least it seems that way for me. There is an old saying that says being bitter only hurts yourself. But actually, being bitter not only hurts yourself, the other person, but it hurts God.
Bitterness was a part of me, and I didn't even know it. So, at first it was hard to realize that is was a sin. I have learned that the only way to be angry and sin not, is to only be angry at the sin. Bitterness simply cannot be justified. Something my mom always says is that a trial can either make a person bitter or it can make a person better.
We have all met people who act as if they have sucked on a lemon for a might too long. We don't want to be like that. I can never learn anything if I am bitter, and neither can you. Bitterness is just terrible and it can lead to immorality and even insanity. So, you ask: "how can I get over bitterness?" The first thing to do is to confess it to God. Give it to him, and remember, it is not wrong to hurt, but it is wrong to hate. Let God fight your battle. I know I have learned that he does that a whole lot better than me." Kristin Short, July 2000
Kristin's writing evolved quite a bit throughout the years, and she shared many lessons with her readers, but no lesson seemed as much as a launching pad in her life as this lesson of getting rid of bitterness. She could have held onto her hurt and her life would have been stale, her countenance and beauty affected as well as her health.
Anger and bitterness are emotions that are like an acid that eats its own container. She learned early to get rid of it. As offences from others came, I watched as she gave them to God and kept smiling. Oh, she cried when things happened, but she always managed to give it to God and get back up smiling. I think that is why her smile was so contagious. It was real.
As we are still reeling from the loss of our girl, we can remember her life, and the many lessons learned through the short 25 years, seven months and 25 days. Her death should never be a cause of bitterness for anyone, but rather a reminder to make forgiveness a daily part of our lives.
(Kimberly Morgan is a homeschool mom and co-founder of Kristin's Hope with her husband, Jamie. She is also a counselor with Cornerstone Christian Counseling. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.)