Bitter or Better is Our Choice
By Bernadette A. Moyer
I could be bitter but I am better! Earlier today I caught up with an old friend, she is like a sister to me. She is that friend that makes me happy, she calls me out when I am wrong, supports me at my best and at my worse. She gets me and in many ways we understand each other, in many ways we are alike. In her company I am lifted up and we always learn from one another.
Today she said something to me and about me. She said. “After everything you have been through and I could name the list, you continue to amaze me because you could be bitter and you aren’t, you have one of the biggest hearts I have ever witnessed. I know a lot of people and most would be bitter but not you and your heart.”
She is right I could be bitter! She knows me well as we have been friends for 18 years now. The list is long on what I have experienced in my lifetime. Some of it is really very hateful, hurtful and unattractive. But my heart doesn’t work that way. I have always viewed every single experience as something I could learn from. What was this or that supposed to teach me and by viewing everything as a learning opportunity I grew my heart bigger and I became better and not bitter.
We don’t get to control what happens in our lives or what other people do but we do get to control how we choose to respond to it. I may not always be happy with the outcomes of the things that have hurt me. But I always responded with a heart and with a conscience and in a way that I could live with, this allowed me to be better and not bitter.
When we rise above it, when we are faced with adversity and heartache, our own character is tested. Real character isn’t about how we handle the easy stuff in life, it is about how we handle the challenges and often it is about how we act when no one else is looking.
On reflection one of the things in my life that I am most proud of is how I handled my first husband’s death and his funeral. He was previously married and divorced with two children. When he died his kids were young and still in elementary school. When I was asked who I wanted to be in the first car with me my response was swift and heartfelt. I had his children and their mother with me. To me, it was the right thing to do. When I met him he was already divorced, his ex-wife and his children never did anything to hurt me. My view was that having them with me and close to their father was the right thing to do and it was one that I could easily live with.
The single line that has helped me the most in my life is from the book, The Four Agreements and I have written about it often, the quote is; “nothing other people do is because of you, it is because of themselves.” Not only has this made sense to me but it has virtually saved me and released me from the hate and the lack of love from others. Their actions are their choices, when someone chooses to behave in a certain way that is all about them.
The people that set out to hurt other people are lacking peace and love and there is usually a good reason for that and normally it comes from what they have done and their own actions. They are living in a way that requires them to justify their behaviors. If they can make someone else look bad they can justify what they have done. This may work in the short run, but in the long run, they have to live with themselves. We may be able to fool others, but we know who we are and what we are made of, we know better than anyone else.
I have never viewed myself as a “victim” but rather as a “survivor” and this allowed me to “survive” and even thrive in the face of adversity. I have also learned that just because I have a heart and a conscience that I shouldn’t necessarily expect the same from others. Some people just don’t have it.
We could all be “bitter” over something if that is what we decide but we also can choose to be “better” and being “better” just feels so good and right and contributes to making us better! Given the choice I choose better over bitter every single time…
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