Bitterness is like a cancer that eats away at your heart and infects others. Good character builds strong relationships. But a root of bitterness destroys them. In this video we look at the effects of bitterness and the two levels of forgiveness.

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5 Responses to The Cup of Bitterness

  1. Byenia says:

    But is it ever that simple, Sheriff Nash? Level 1 forgiveness I understand, but the level 2 you described often requires time to heal and move on, depending on the offense. Now, I can’t speak from a perspective within law enforcement, never having worked there, but elsewhere in our personal relationships forgiveness often does (and perhaps should) require effort on the part of the forgiven.

    Bitterness isn’t something most of us take on willingly or even knowingly. Some of us resisted it mightily, and yet it seeped in and poisoned our being, as you said. And just as it can be difficult to remain free of bitterness initially, it’s doubly hard to rid of it once it’s there, inside our hearts. I do agree with you that bitterness can act as a cancer that eats a person alive and in no way helps in making amends, but how does one ‘purge’ him/herself of bitterness once it’s taken hold? And what if the bitterness was well-deserved and earned? What if the person you feel bitterness toward deserves to be regarded as a threat to avoid?

    And what if your bitterness isn’t toward someone but instead something, like the change in police dynamics as a whole, say for someone who became a law officer decades ago and have witnessed much change they no longer are able to comprehend and cope with?

    I remain perplexed on the topic of bitterness and forgiveness and will give it much thought in the future.

    • Byenia:

      First of all, I appreciate your thoughtful comments and questions. This is just the kind of interaction on this site I was hoping for.

      Secondly, you are absolutely right about Level 2 forgiveness. Level 1 is hard enough, but Level 2 is extraordinarily difficult. I know I am still harboring some bitterness because of hurts my family and I received during some brutal election campaigns. But part of the healing process is to recognize that the bitterness is there – just like you must diagnose a cancer before you can treat it.

      The one thing to keep in mind is that forgiveness does not relieve consequences. Forgiveness and pardon are two different things. Forgiveness is about restoring relationships and freeing you of bitterness. It has little to do with consequences.

      I used to struggle with communicating this concept to my children. If they did something worthy of punishment, I might put them on restriction. Often they would come to me with a very contrite spirit and ask for forgiveness, which I granted to them, of course. Then they would immediately ask for the restriction to be lifted. It was hard to explain to them why forgiveness and consequences were different concepts.

      One of the consequences of an offense might be a permanent loss of trust, or an unwillingness to associate with someone. Or it could be some serious disciplinary or legal sanction. But granting forgiveness frees you of the consequences in your own heart. It may or may not restore the relationship but it is a necessary first step.

      Another problem as I see it is that sometimes the person you might be holding bitterness toward is not even around any more. Perhaps they are a long distance away or even deceased. In that case, you only have two choices: level 2 forgiveness or continuing to nurture a root of bitterness.

      And to answer your initial question, I think it IS simple but is far from easy…!

      I think this might be a great topic for a future video. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to explore this concept in more detail…

  2. […] v. Pardon In the earlier video post called The Cup of Bitterness, I explored the problem of bitterness and unresolved anger and it’s effect on internal […]

  3. […] will earn the respect of the citizens of this country. They also taught us certain principles about forgiveness, about patience, that we might take to our homes to teach our wives and our children so that […]

  4. […] have been the one to get it…” And on and on and on. A Wounded Spirit can lead to bitterness, which is even more […]

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Sheriff Ray Nash

Sheriff Ray Nash

What Law Enforcement and Community Leaders Are Saying About Police Dynamics

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Character Council of Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky

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Orangeburg, SC

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Las Cruces Fire Dept.

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Marion County Sheriff’s Office, IN

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Grand County Sheriff’s Office

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Cleveland County, OK
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Oklahoma County, OK

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Tarrant County, TX

"In the three years prior to our character initiative, we had 42 labor and employee grievances, and seven different lawsuits. In the three years since we put the character initiative in place, we have had two grievances and no lawsuits from employees. I think that, in and of itself, is significant."
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City Manager
Owasso, OK

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Police Dynamics participant

[We have] more awareness of the preventative benefits of a character initiative as opposed to the typical reactive approach to situations. There is a sense of excitement by organization leaders as they begin to see a change in their culture. Bob Powell
Character Council
Fort Collins, CO

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Dorchester County Sheriff's Office, SC

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Highlands County, FL

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Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office

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Sgt. Julie Shearer
Cincinnati Police Div.

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Chaplain Carl Nelson
Colorado Springs Police Department

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Former Judge
Burleson, TX

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Arad County Police

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Chickasha, OK

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Police Dynamics participant

"This shows us a new approach to recognize those employees’ character traits and to recognize and acknowledge them for those good traits versus, “You did an excellent job…” It’s some fresh ideas in an area that we probably all need to change."
Major P.D. Taylor
Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office

"In the three years prior to our character initiative, we had 42 labor and employee grievances, and seven different lawsuits. In the three years since we put the character initiative in place, we have had two grievances and no lawsuits from employees. I think that, in and of itself, is significant."
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City Manager
Owasso, OK

"Absolutely fantastic! It reminded me of why I wanted to be a peace officer."
Police Dynamics participant

"the finest value-added training anywhere."
Sheriff David Williams
Tarrant County, TX

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Chief Tom McClain
Willard, MO

"Once again, I feel absolutely indebted to you for the program you have developed and your desire to change the world through the building of better law enforcement officers."
Glen P. Trainor
Grand County, CO

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DeWayne Beggs
Cleveland County, OK

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Indiana State Police