Bitterness an Example
Bitterness an Example
Charles Dickens gives us a great, example of bitterness in his novel “Great Expectations”. One of the characters in his book is the eccentric Miss Havisham. She is an older lady who has been jilted by her fiancé on her wedding day many years earlier. As she waits in her wedding dress for her fiancé to appear she is informed that he will not be coming. In later years she’s living in a house that is falling down around her, still wearing her wedding dress that is tattered, dirty and worn, and all the clocks have stopped at the exact time where she was informed that her fiancé would not be coming to the wedding. This doesn’t seem like a believable character but she is one of the most memorable creations in Dickens novel. At the very moment that Miss Havisham received the numbing word that her groom had run away with another woman and would not be coming to the wedding life for her stopped at precisely that fatal time twenty minutes till nine. Miss Havisham hung heavy drapes in the windows blocking out all the sunlight from her dim and dingy home. She lived in seclusion with her adopted daughter, Estella, while the wedding cake and feast lay rotting on the table, spiders carrying them off in bits and pieces, and mice scurried audibly in the walls. Naturally Estella wondered why this spectacle is taking place. Miss Havisham gives her this depressing analysis: “On this day of the year, long before you were born, this heap of decay was brought here. It and I have worn away together. The mice have gnawed at it, and sharper teeth than teeth of mice have gnawed at me”. Those teeth were the sharp edges of bitterness, resentment, and unforgiveness. The teeth of bitterness gnaw deeper than the flesh wounds, these knives like protrusions can pierce far beneath the skin, eating away at joy, eroding peace, and closing our hearts off to the sunlight of God’s presence.
Your situation today may not be as pathetic as that of Miss Havisham. You may find ways to numb yourself to the pain, to carry on in spite of resentment, or even perhaps, to maintain a semblance of normalcy. But our inner spirit bears the telltale signs of those gnawing teeth and of the darkened room in which we have chosen to live.
Has the clock stopped in your life? Was there a moment when someone or something hurt you and everything changed? You may still remember the day, the time, the year, the scenery, the circumstances when all of this happened. Your hopes, dreams, and innocence felt the sharp sting of betrayal and disappointment. Even the story of your life has been to recapture your loss and seek your revenge, either through out right action or the withholding of love and affection. Maybe you still know and feel those gnawing teeth.
But the good news is that you don’t have to live in that dark dingy situation. You can open up the drapes and allow the sunlight to come into your life. You may feel that to do so is risky or maybe even impossible. This process may be very painful. But there is life and health and a whole new world outside the dingy living room, the musty walls of hurt and disillusionment behind you have been barricaded in your heart. God wants to give you the grace to move on. He wants to set you free.
Miss Havisham is an example of single minded vengeance pursued destructively; all the people in her life suffer greatly because of her quest for vengeance. Miss Havisham is completely unable to see that her actions are harmful to those around her.
The choice is yours.