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Feature Article: "Conquering Bitterness Through the Power of Forgiveness"

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    Inspirational Women's Garden Club

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  • Conquering Bitterness through the Power of Forgiveness,Wed, Aug 15, 7 pm EST

Conquering Bitterness through the Power of Forgiveness

We all live in a conflict-ridden society. We see the results of these broken relationships in many ways. Many of you grew up in difficult family settings or may be experiencing a difficult marriage or family setting even at this time.

Often these conflicts are never properly resolved. People live with deep wounds in their heart, having never really dealt with these past and present experiences and their effects in their lives. Often cycles of painful interactions are set up in relationships, and people wound one another over and over, not understanding how to break the vicious cycle they are now in.

(One of the very best books I have seen on breaking destructive patterns in the marriage relationship has been written by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs called Love and Respect. Please purchase it if you realize you need additional insight and help in this area. I've made the information about it available for you in the bottom right-hand panel of this newsletter.)

One of the most difficult aspects of these painful, conflictual situations is the deep bitterness that can grow in a person's heart over time. You may be harboring bitterness in your heart over some injustice done to you years ago and not even realize it. When we harbor bitterness, it infects everyone with whom we interact and prevents us from experiencing healthy, joyful and fulfilling relationships.

How can you avoid falling into the trap of bitterness and prevent it from poisoning all of your relationships? The key to doing so is learning to understand and appropriate the power of forgiveness.

Many people do not fully understand the concept of forgiveness. They equate it with feeling positive emotions toward the other party, with reconciliation, or with other mistaken perceptions.

Let's delve into the concept of forgiveness to ensure you really understand it, and then review some keys to victory, which if chosen consistently, will lead you to a victorious experience in conquering the powerful, negative experience of bitterness in your life.

  1. Understand forgiveness does not depend on your feelings

    Often you may feel, "I cannot forgive this person because there's no way I can really let go of what he, she or they did to me." However, often one makes these comments out of a deep wounding that reveals the person has never emotionally recovered from the experience.

    Yet you can choose to forgive those who have hurt you as a choice, as a sheer act of your will. You don't necessarily have to have the feelings that go along with the forgiveness. And often you won't have the positive feelings. Yet as you choose to forgive, you'lll find that the feelings follow over time. You'll begin to experience a freedom from the hurt, and it will seem as a distant memory to you.
  1. Recognize that forgiveness is a process

    Often when wounds are deep, forgiveness is a process. You may have deep feelings of hurt and resentment that come into your mind over a period of time. This process may even take place over a number of years. At each point, you can ask the Lord to give you the strength and choose as an act of your will to forgive those who have harmed you. God promises to give us the strength to do this. We will find that as we continue to choose to forgive as an act of our will, that eventually our woundedness will subside, and we can move on with our lives.

  2. Realize God will not forgive us unless we forgive others

    This may seem unfair, but the parable of the unmerciful servant in Matt. 18:35 teaches that God will not forgive you unless you forgive your brother from your heart." This is due to the fact that no matter how deeply others have hurt us, we have all hurt and offended God so much more due to our failings. If God is willing to forgive us when we have done such grievous things, He desires that we choose to forgive others of the deep wounds that they have inflicted on us.

  3. Realize we can only find true forgiveness through Jesus' work on the cross on our behalf, and only through His strength can we forgive.

    Eph. 1:7 teaches us that it is in Christ that we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace. Through Him, we can both find forgiveness for ourselves and also find the freedom to forgive others.

    Perhaps you have felt as you read this article that this issue doesn't apply to you. But for those of us who have struggled at times in these areas, here are some principles from God's Word to help us live victoriously and conquer bitterness through the power of forgiveness.

Keys to Victory along the Journey

  • Be willing to acknowledge and change our part

    Sometimes as we enter the process of forgiving others, we realize we have to be willing to confess and repent of what we did wrong - of our part in the situation. There are very few conflicts in which one party is completely innocent. We may also need to go back and ask forgiveness of those who hurt us for the part that we did wrong. Yet I John 1:9 promises us that if we confess our sins or failings, that He is faithful to cleanse us of all unrighteousness. What a wonderful promise - that when we confess what we know we've done wrong, God will cleanse us of everything!

  • Refuse to give into bitterness, depression, complaining and the self-pity that often accompanies it

  • You likely know of the biblical character, Job, who suffered so tremendously at a certain point in his life. At one point, we see the effects of the bitterness that had grown in Job's heart. He had fallen into depression.

    Listen to some of his comments during this time in his life: "Therefore I will not keep silent; I will speak out in the anguish of my spirit, I will complain in the bitterness of my soul (Job 7:11). "I loathe my very life; therefore I will give free rein to my complaint and speak out in the bitterness of my soul (Job 10:1). Job was saying he hated his life, and he clearly blamed God for it. "As surely as God lives, who has denied me justice, the Almighty, who has made me taste bitterness of soul (Job 27:2). We need to ask God to give us the strength to forgive so that we don't become captive to bitterness, depression, complaining and self-pity.

  • Recognize God's sovereignty in our situation and that He may cause or allow something different than we wanted to accomplish His purpose

    You'll need to understand that in God's wisdom, He may choose to allow something you never would have chosen because it will work toward accomplishing His greater purposes.

    Isa. 55:8-9, God says, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

    Joy and Strength has a wonderful devotional that expounds on this very thought. I pray this is an encouraging, inspiring, and strengthening passage for you.

    Ye shall know that I have not done without cause all that I have done, saith the Lord God (Ezekiel 14:23).

    Joy is the lesson set for some,
    For others pain best teacher is;
    We know not which for us shall come,
    But both are Heaven's high ministries.
    (Susan Coolidge)

    The outward features of our life may not be all that we should choose them to be; there may be things we wish for that never come to us; there may be much we wish away that we cannot part from. The persons with whom we live, the circumstances by which we are surrounded, the duties we have to perform, the burdens we have to bear, may not only be other than what we should have selected for ourselves, but may even seem inconsistent with that formation and discipline of character which we honestly wish to promote.

    Knowing us better than we know ourselves, fully understanding how greatly we are affected by the outward events and conditions of life, He has ordered them with a view to our entire and final, not only our immediate, happiness; and whenever we can be safely trusted with pastures that are green, and waters that are still, in the way of earthly blessing, the Good Shepherd leads us there.

    (Anthony W. Thorold)

    If you would like to hear more on this topic, please join us for the August "Inspirational Women's Garden Club" event on Wednesday, August 15, at 7 p.m. EST. For more information, contact Suzanne at We'd love to have you join us and bring a friend, too!

July Coaching Special

With enrollment this month in either the Women's Garden Club or the Pastors' Forum, you’ll receive a complimentary 30-minute personal or church coaching consult. Just contact my office at I'd love to serve you.

Please let me know what issues you would like to hear about in the next newsletter. I'll do my best to address your concerns! I look forward to speaking with you all next month.

Many prayers and blessings to you all,

Relationship Tips is a monthly e-zine written and published by Suzanne Martinez, founder of SFM Consulting & Associates, LLC. Our purpose is to help leaders develop healthy leadership cultures and healthy relationships - cultures that promote growth and maximize personal and organizational performance.

You may copy, forward or distribute this e-zine if this copyright notice and contact information for Suzanne Martinez is included.

Suzanne Martinez
SFM Consulting & Associates, LLC
P.O. Box 9172
Reston, VA 20195-9172

Copyright ©SFM Consulting & Associates, LLC, 2006-2007.

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Relationship Tips
July 2007
Vol. I, Issue 8

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Upcoming Garden Club Teleseminars

Interested in joining the Inspirational Women's Garden Club?

It's a monthly get-together via telephone of women to network, build relationships with one another, and to discuss the Relationship Tips monthly topic.

Our next Inspirational Women's Garden Club event is Wednesday, August 15, 2007 at 7 p.m. EST.

Our topic will be Finding Peace and Rest through the Power of Forgiveness.

Upcoming Garden Club Dates:

Wed, August 15, 7 pm EST
Wed, September 12, 7 pm EST
Wed, October 10, 7 pm EST

If you'd like more information about the Garden Club or to enroll, please go to Inspirational Women's Garden Club. You may hear a sample audio class at FREE Gift and FREE Handout. Hope you'll join us!

Would you Like to Learn More on "Developing Patience" or Celebrating the Goodness of God in your Life?

If you'd like hear recent messages on "Developing Patience" or "Celebrating the Goodness of God in Your Life" on audio CD or give copies as gifts to friends, contact Suzanne at (703) 282-2325 to order your copies. Copies will also be available in the shop very soon!

Inspiring Devotionals

Has your relationship with Christ lost its fervor? Have you gotten caught up in the stresses of life and allowed your time with the Lord to be placed on the back burner?

These two devotionals will help renew your focus on Christ, gain strength for the trials you face, and enable you to give praise to God amidst whatever difficulties you encounter.

For a sample of Joy and Strength, see the final paragraphs of "Conquering Bitterness through the Power of Forgiveness" at the left.

Shop to obtain your own copy.

Becoming a Woman of Godly Character

Our words reflect our hearts and character. In the CD, "Becoming a Woman of Godly Character," Suzanne provides answers to common questions women ask and encourages you in your walk with Christ.

She'll also teach you qualities of a godly woman and the process whereby God changes you throughout your life to make you more like Christ.

Click here to order your copy...

Reversing the Curse: Rediscovering Joy and Fulfillment in Relationships

Reversing the Curse: Rediscovering Joy and Fulfillment in Relationships

In this four-week study guide, Suzanne leads you to simple, but powerful, tools to reverse the effects of the curse and transform your relationships in amazing ways.

As you learn and incorporate these three simple "power tools" into your relationships, you'll find you rediscover joy and fulfillment in your relationships in a new and fresh way.

Click here to order your copy!

Reversing the Curse: Rediscovering Joy and Fulfillment in Relationships

Men need respect!

In so many ways, society has focused on your need for love, while ignoring your husband's tremendous need for respect. Most women don't understand how men view certain things they say and do as disrespectful.

Dr. Emerson Eggerich's groundbreaking book, Love and Respect, helps you crack that code, enabling you to communicate with your husband in ways he will hear and understand. These make great gifts, too. Order yours today at

Love and Respect

Preview of August's Issue:

In August's issue of Relationship Tips, we'll focus on "How to Resolve Conflict to Maintain Healthy Relationships." You may never have seen healthy role models for resolving conflict and learned destructive patterns that are hurting your present relationships. Next month, we'll discuss a process for doing so to help you maintain joy and fulfillment in your relationships.

Stay tuned for the next Relationship Tips!

About Suzanne

Suzanne France Martinez Founder & Principal

During the last 20 years as Suzanne served in the marketplace and in ministry, she learned to excel amidst the pressing demands and challenges of leadership in each setting.

Suzanne's passion is to help leaders develop healthy leadership cultures and healthy relationships - cultures that promote growth and maximize personal and organizational performance.

Suzanne desires to help leaders renew and refresh their vision, attain new levels of leadership excellence, and build healthy and strong leadership organizations.

Copyright © 2006-2007 SFM Consulting & Associates, LLC.