Days of Grace: Meditations and Practices for Living with Illness by Mary C. Earle. 


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Day Sixteen

When My Mind Became Embittered

Written By Mary C. Earle

Practice Note

Meditation: <listen>

When my mind became embittered,
I was sorely wounded in my heart
—Psalm 73:21

Let’s be honest. Sometimes living with illness leads us to become embittered. Sometimes we fall prey to resentment. Sometimes we wonder why it is that the illness has come to live with us, and not somebody else. The bitter, resentful habit of mind leads to a wounded heart. The bitter, resentful habit of thought leads to a woeful lack of love.

When our son Bryan was receiving chemotherapy, our weeks were marked by the regular visitation to the oncologist’s office. We became part of the Tuesday morning community. Those patients and family members with regular Tuesday morning appointments came to know each other, to share wisdom and strength, humor and candy.

One older woman, Emma, had lived with her particular cancer for some time. She had come to the end of possible treatments and was, as she put it, “sailing along” until the cancer reappeared. She could have been bitter. She was not. She could have been a Pollyanna. She was not. Emma was a realist. She always told the gathered community, “I’ve been glad for my life. Be glad for yours.” 

We all fall prey to bitterness and resentment from time to time. That’s why we need friends and family to remind us: be glad for your life. Remember there are many others who live with illness, and many of them have no computer to read this message.    

Loving and gentle Christ, help me to notice my own bitterness. Let it not wound my soul. And if it does wound, may I trust in your gentle power to heal my heart and make it new. Amen.

Practice: <listen>

When has your experience of living with illness led to bitterness or resentment? How have you sought guidance?  Who has been a friend and companion in  those times of reckoning with these feelings? When bitterness or resentment arise, how do you recognize their presence? Do they manifest in your body or in your behavior? Compose a prayer of your own, either asking for help with  bitterness and resentment, or giving thanks for being delivered from them.

Reference Note: All  psalms are taken from the psalter in The Book of Common Prayer, 1979.