Bitter Transitions Don’t Lead to Healing

I have included below a great passage from a book that sounds like it’s worth looking into.  Thanks to another blogger, Joy Eggerichs, who got the author to write a passage that’s from material in his book, but not necessary a direct quote from it.

It speaks about the temptations we deal with when we come up against transitions that were imposed on us.  In this particular passage, it’s a pondering over the grief and hurt we may carry if we don’t accept and forgive those involved in the circumstances of a broken relationship.

Believe me, I have just recently been going through such transitions, or, as Jeff calls them, the land between.  I do feel the hurt and the confusion, and many other emotions that don’t seem to point toward being loving and forgiving like my God is.  So I’m tempted to stay angry, or to blame the other person for the mishaps and misfortune.

But these feelings will not lead toward freedom to love.  The more I don’t process the hurt and realize that I, too, had my own part, the longer the process of real healing will take.  If anything, I am called to forgive the other person even if it was entirely an issue of theirs.  We are called to forgive all because no one ever fully understands why they do what they do, or realizes the full repercussions.  Jesus said forgive 70 times 7.  That was another way of saying, “forgive and forgive until you die.”

This will take much growth, and much maturity will come from it.  Read on to take part in Jeff’s wisdom and caution for this “land between.”

A Greenhouse for Growth

By: Jeff Manion

When deeply hurt by someone, your future is in jeopardy. When we feel abandoned, betrayed, or deserted, the heart can drift into a grove of lasting bitterness, or a lingering resentment that can poison our other relationships. We also have the opportunity for the grace of God to meet us in the damaged place – transforming us into people who are tender, gracious, and approachable.

I have long been convinced that it is not simply the events of life that shape us but our response to those events. For me there was a lightbulb moment when this truth crystallized.

We agreed to meet at 10:00 p.m. at Denny’s, where we figured we could find a quiet corner for an intensely personal conversation. When I arrived, Tony had already secured a booth and was cradling a mug of coffee. His wife—soon to be ex-wife—had moved out, announced that she had no interest in counseling or reconciliation, and left the state to join the man who had stolen her heart. It seemed that the only remaining conversation was who was going to get what.

Tony quickly realized that with only one income, he could no longer make the mortgage payment on their—his—home and would soon be looking for an apartment. He spoke bitterly of the prospects of selling the house in a down market, projecting the beating he would take on the sale. He was certain that he would realize no equity after all those years of making payments. Foremost in the ongoing conflict was who would end up with the newer car and who would have to drive the beater. But the quibbling extended to the appliances—not only who would take possession of the washer and dryer, but trivial stuff such as the toaster and the blender.

It was tragic to me that Tony was losing his wife, and here we were in a Denny’s talking about losing the toaster. As he spoke about the division of the household items, his energy level began to elevate and the intensity picked up. Customers at nearby tables began to look over nervously as his voice got louder. I could feel his deep disappointment transition into a fuming anger, which in part I found excusable, understandable.

But as he vented, I could sense something inside him turning a deep shade of bitter.

As I sat opposite Tony in the booth, I had a light bulb moment. I realized that in fifteen years, neither of them would be driving either car. Both vehicles would be on a scrap heap somewhere. The washer and dryer would be history. The toaster would be long gone, experiencing a much shorter life span. But the decisions of the heart made in this troubled space could affect Tony’s life fifteen years later.

Certainly he would need to walk through stages of emotion, stages of grief, as he worked to process the betrayal, heartache, and loss. But I realized as we sat together in the late hours in the half-empty restaurant that Tony was in the process of deciding who he was becoming.

I was shaken by the reality that his response to the divorce could end up having a greater effect on his life than the divorce itself.

This is so significant when we pass through seasons of extreme disruption, what I have come to call The Land Between. It is critical to recognize that not simply the hardship, but also our reaction to the hardship, is forming us. With each major disappointment we experience, our responses both reveal the person we are and set the trajectory for the person we are becoming. Whether we age with grace and poise or become bitter, resentful people is largely determined by our response to disappointment.

These deeply troubling seasons can be a greenhouse for transformational growth. It is also the desert where faith goes to die. We decide. Our response to deep disappointment may end up being more defining than the pain itself.


How have your reactions to hardship shaped your life?

Do you believe troubling seasons can be “a greenhouse for growth”?


Jeff Manion is Senior Teaching Pastor of Ada Bible Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he has served for more than 25 years.  Jeff is the author of The Land Betweenand he and his wife, Chris, have three adult children.

Follow Jeff on Twitter HERE.


5 thoughts on “Bitter Transitions Don’t Lead to Healing

  1. Phil Vasquez

    God never gives you more than you can handle. As you say, its always easy to blame the other,but having a feeling of abandment, lost, desserted by a friend, is difficult. Continue
    to give it to God and HE will take care of you. Forgiveness during this Lent season is very
    healing and soothing. And its so very important. God’s blessings to you during your difficult time.

    1. Gilbert Marquez Jr. Post author

      Thanks for the reply. It even seems to me the hardest part is the forgiveness of one’s Self. All of this is so much easier to say than to do. When we really have to bite the bullet, it just sucks. But then it feels good. Who would have thought?

  2. Pingback: FEAR or RISE- Transition Plan | Encouragement | Jan R Miesse

  3. Jan R Miesse

    Your words are proven true! Forgiveness and bitterness will consume someone when they do not move through and beyond into sweeter life. Thank you so much for adding my post on Transition- Fear or Rise as a related article. I will reciprocate. I always go back and think.. .”What would I have done if God had not forgiven me and continues to do so?” What love I would have missed and what eternity would be ahead for me. That thought humbles me and I must forgive in all instances and know that love will heal me through my Lord. Thanks again!


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