“He’s not bitter. He’s just been in a bad mood for twenty years.” – Unknown
Anger comes in different forms. Some anger is righteous anger. This is reserved for things that deserve an angry response – human trafficking and child abuse are examples of things that should arouse righteous anger. Jesus’ violent response to the money-changers in the temple is a great example of righteous anger on display.
Grumpiness almost doesn’t qualify as anger, really. Anyone can get a little grumpy. You wake up with a stiff neck from a lousy night’s sleep (or lack thereof), basically you get up on the wrong side of the bed and you’re a little grumpy. It happens to the best of us. The best, however, quickly get rid of the grumpy attitude and others never know they aren’t at their best. “Normal” people, though, wallow in their grumpy attitudes until something yanks them out of it or until it starts to turn to genuine anger and even bitterness.
Bitterness is habitual anger. Its parents are often pessimism and cynicism. If you find yourself heading down this road, be careful. You need to change course, and quickly, because bitterness can take root in your soul and make you a very unpleasant person to be around. Relationships become strained. Friends drift away. Acquaintances avoid you altogether. It can even affect your work and, in the worst cases, get you fired from your job. A negative attitude is like a disease that infects your soul and spreads to those around you. The smart boss won’t put up with it for long.
Once bitterness sets in, depression is not far behind. The two work in tandem, actually. Either one can show up first, or both at the same time. They feed on each other. Some have called depression “the black dog.” Feed it with negative thoughts and attitudes and it feeds on you.
“How do you starve a black dog?” – Andy Andrews, The Final Summit
There are, in fact, many ways to fend off bitterness:
- Exercise regularly
- Eat right
- Sleep properly
- Ask good questions
- Choose to be happy and think good and noble thoughts
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” – Philippians 4:8
How do you deal with anger, grumpiness, or bitterness?