Hope, although powerful, can be shattered by numerous events, feelings, and other things. Fear, disappointment, shame, abuse – there is a long list of ways we can lose our dreams and ability to see a brighter future.
One that I realized I am currently struggling with is bitterness. When you are bitter against a certain place, person, or group, you are unable to make a positive change. Instead, the negativity inside of you undermines your ability to be a symbol of hope.
Even worse than being bitter about a certain thing is being bitter about life in general. If you are cynical about everything and mad at the world, how can you have hope for positiveness? How can you love others and inspire change?
Growing up, I knew that becoming bitter was a bad idea. Those adults with permanent scowls, who laughed at the dreams of others and refused to see the good in people, made me frightened. Or the students in class who snickered at the teacher while belittling others and complaining about how everyone was out to get them. Never would I become like those peers or adults!
Scarily, the realization came to me today that I am more like them than I want to be. Bitterness toward several groups of people has followed me through much of my life. The church I grew up in but never belonged in, treatment centers that I stayed at where I was kicked out needlessly, even the university that I used to love so much – all of these are places of so much hurt and anger that I do not know what to do. So instead of dealing with the issue, I stuffed everything down and lied about my feelings.
Now, that anger has changed into bitterness, stewing for years and turning more sour each day. Tears came to my eyes as I realized that today. I came into school so eager to learn and make a positive impact. Now, I am leaving, frustrated and confused about what I believe. Even worse, I am so upset with the school that I see no hope for myself in it these next few months or in the future.
Well, that is thankfully not totally true. My bitterness is growing, but some hope still remains. Doing the show Narnia gives me joy and something to look forward to soon. Some of my classes are educational and inspiring. And even though I told my mother that I do not know if I should walk at graduation anymore, I do look forward to getting that diploma.
Thus, bitterness has not stolen all of my hope. However, it certainly snuffed much of it out. I do not want that to happen with other parts of my life. Instead, I will keep guarding against bitterness and trying to stay soft and open. That might be more painful but brings a fuller, more beautiful life.