The topic of Bitterness is one that is very close to my heart. A bitter person, man or woman, is someone who cannot move forward but is stuck in the past. I have known many people who wasted years of precious time lamenting missed opportunities, lost relationships, abusive relationships, health issues and so much more.
Instead of being thankful for what God has given them, or for even the smallest blessings in their lives, bitter people like to complain that the blessings are insignificant compared to what they could have had, would have had or should have had “if only.” When we live in the world of “if only” instead of “thank you,” our best friend becomes bitterness, not life.
These points were driven home with amazing clarity just this afternoon when I came across a snapshot and a brief description of the photograph on the LinkedIn website.
We See What We Look For
The photograph was of a man from India, seemingly in his late 40s, helping his teenage daughter off of a bicycle seat. The man and his daughter were humbly dressed, and the bicycle was well-used, rusted but lovingly cared for by the man. The bicycle was the family’s means of transportation. I did not learn the name of his town in India, or how he made ends meet, but for this conversation it is enough to say he undoubtedly worked hard for very little.
The story is that virtually every day the man pedals his physically challenged daughter (who I would estimate was 16 or 17) to school. Her classroom is on the fifth floor, but the school lacks an elevator, so he carries her up all five flights! After school, he walks up to her classroom, carries her down five flights, and they pedal home. She just “sat” for a major college placement exam and scored in the 90th percentile! The most striking thing about the photograph is the loving way the father is looking upon his daughter. His smile emanates from his heart and, though only a photograph, I did not detect any sadness on his face or hers.
Of the man’s life, we know little else. All we have is the caption, the fact that she placed high in her exams for college and that the man looks upon his daughter with tenderness and pride, and that she looks upon him with love. The grass is greener where you water it.
Count Your Blessings, Not Your Troubles
Suppose the father been had been a bitter man and the caption explained that the man viewed his life as being a monumental failure. Suppose he looked upon his daughter with anger or cursed the fact that he was burdened with her or he hated the fact that he only had a lousy bicycle, a “small” job and an insignificant apartment in a poor neighborhood? What if he was angry at the girl because she only scored in the 90th percentile and not the 95th percentile?
Most of us might ask him: “Why are you so ungrateful? You should be happy and very proud!”
Fortunately, the man has become a role model. I know this because the picture has received thousands of “likes” and hundreds of warm and compassionate comments from all over the world.
It is amazing how many of us will put up with negative and bitter characters in our own lives. People who drain us and cause us pain with their sour faces and sour outlooks. People who would willingly tear us down, and tear others down for anything positive we have accomplished.
In fact, I dare say that some of the bitter people we have let into our lives would look at the snapshot and mock or deride the accomplishments of both father and daughter. They might laugh at their poverty and their modest clothing; they might mock the daughter’s disability and the father’s small-time job. If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at will change.
All of us, each one of us, is given the task in this life to make a difference, to contribute, to let go and accept life. In some ways, the humble man and his physically challenged daughter are among the richest people I have come across in a very long time. The moment you take responsibility for everything in your life is the moment you can change anything in your life. If you’re bitter about the life you’ve chosen, stop blaming it on people who’ve chosen to have a better one. Choose to be better instead of bitter.