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In Dr. John Maxwell’s book Thinking for a Change, he gives his readers 11 different types of thinking. The one that stands out the most for me is the tenth one, “unselfish thinking.” He describes this as the ability to consider others and their journey, to think with collaboration. How many times have you missed out on an opportunity to collaborate with someone due to bitterness?

I am guilty and it involves an event that happened so many years ago, that I can hardly remember the details. My college medallion went missing after my vehicle was valet parked. As I stood talking about my feelings of bitterness, it dawned on me how one incident can cause you a lifetime of missed relationships and opportunities.

You see, traveling to Atlanta should have been about spending time with my family as they browsed through the stores at Lenox Mall. But I was oblivious to this as all I could think about was my missing medallion.

Often times we allow the bitterness from one bad experience to rule our thoughts.  Such selfish thinking spoils our relationships with friends, co-workers, and neighbors.  With me it was the refusal to see the benefits of valet parking. The past experience created a distasteful bitterness in me for many years until one day, a friend and I discussed the pros and cons of valet parking. It was then that I quickly saw its advantages.

The memory of someone or something that led to a bitter experience replays over and over again and creates a deep rut that is hard to change later.  We look to others for support which can push us further into resentment of the person or the event. We determine the offense was intentional, and our offender is full of spite. As we find reasons, real or imaginary, to dislike them, another layer of bitterness forms.  Like a child’s clown punching bag, the bitterness starts to fall away but then surprisingly pops back up.

My solution to overcome bitterness is this:

  • Ask God to bring to mind the person we need to forgive and melt away the bitterness in our heart toward them.
  • Pray for each other, because it is impossible to harbor resentment toward someone you are praying for.

So, get rid of the bitterness which prevents “unselfish thinking” and you won’t miss out on relationships and opportunities during this holiday season.

Never give up! Never give up! Never give up!

Chaplain Walter Ghosten

By Chaplain Ghosten