I took the first several steps cautiously, fully aware of the other women around me. I was teetering on black heels as I embarked on a mandatory prayer walk around the church parking lot. My words were soft mutterings even after I separated from the group.
The assignment was in conjunction with the evening’s Bible study. We’re focusing on the heart, and tonight’s lesson asked us to examine ourselves for bitterness. We were each given a slice of onion to represent the “bitter root” in our lives. After praying about it, we were to symbolically throw the pungent food away then return to be cleansed from its odor.
My roommate Jillian referenced my bitterness, only partially in jest, as we set about the task. She knew I had some stuff to deal with, and I knew I wasn’t excited to confront it.
I’ve referenced my skepticism about men many times to most people who know me (Jillian and our other roommates included). Those feelings aren’t directed at any particular person, but they are the residue from past moments of anger.
As I prayed through these thoughts, I began peeling away the onion’s layers. I paused at the second layer to snack on a bit of the raw vegetable.
That snack was just as crucial as the rest of the task. Much as I like onions, I enjoy bitterness. It’s a defense mechanism. When I’m defensive, I push people away. In theory, I minimize my chance of hurt. The bitter sarcasm even garners a few laughs along the way. But like the onion turns my breath sour, that bitterness stinks up the rest of my being.
I continued to peel away the layers as I prayed. It’s been quite some time since I’ve harbored bitterness toward an individual. Perhaps that’s what makes it so hard to move on?
I’m comfortable with the walls bitterness has constructed around my heart. To let go of that is allowing God full control of that portion of me. I know He is trustworthy and good. His provision and protection are far greater than anything I can construct.
Even so, I didn’t want to release the tiny portion of onion that remained after the peeling. What I was left with was too small to hurl away, but I needed to relinquish it nonetheless. As I flicked it away, I prayed in faith for God to revolutionize my heart. It’ll take His power to eradicate the last bits of bitterness from my life. I feel naked before Him; less than 24 hours later, I struggle not to clothe myself with that sin.
But the one who calls me is faithful. He will do it.