7 Habits of Highly Defective Marriages part 7: Curdled Heart

A month ago, we started a new series of seven blogs designed to recognize unhealthy habits. If you missed the last four weeks check out our first FIVE Highly Defective Habits:

Habit #1: Spiritual Continuity.

Habit #2: The Single Life

Habit #3: The Fun-less Couple

Habit #4: Criticism Floods

Habit #5: Inconsistent Sex

Habit #6: Lack of Laughter

Here we go…#7 on the list of my 7 Habits of Highly Defective Marriages:

Defective Marriage

Habit #7: Curdled Heart

verb: To separate or cause to separate into curds or lumps. To spoil or turn sour.
Synonyms: clot, coagulate, congeal, thicken

After taking  week away because of some health issues, I’m bringing this blog series to a conclusion with #7 of my 7 dysfunctional habits.  I’m not huge on the KJV (King James Version of the bible), but I was raised on it. And there are some verses that will always stick out in my mind that are worded a specific way in the KJV:

And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the LORD, and wept sore. 1 Samuel 1:10

Bitterness, to many people, is the most sensitive of the tastes. Most of us find it harsh and unpleasant. My case in point: Unsweetened cocoa. I remembered discovering it in our pantry growing up. To me, it looked like chocolate.  To my chagrin, my mouth was filled with the shockingly harsh taste of unsweetened cocoa. It blew my mind that anything bearing the brown Hershey label could taste so bad! It cured me of sneaking around to find chocolate…well, almost.

Identifying bitterness is not as simple as a taste test. A harsh or bitter person will rarely admit it. He/she will call themselves firm, melancholy, sober, principled or any number of pseudonyms for bitter. Here’s the reality: bitterness is very easy to see in others but hard to see in ourselves. It sits in our heart releasing its venom causing the curdling process to begin.  Over time the bitterness begins to spoil our attitude.  Our personality begins to sour and our defenses begin to thicken.  If not taken care of, bitterness turns to unforgivenss and causes hearts to separate.

Bitterness has now finished its work.

Defective marriages hold onto the toxin of bitterness, anger, and regret? I say quite often, unforgiveness (which comes from bitterness) is the cancer of marriage. And as a pastor, I deal with this issue more than most. Bitterness will break apart/curdle your heart and undermine your marriage.

In 1 Samuel 1, we find the scripture talking about someone in agony. The “she” being talked about is a woman named Hannah.  She was hurting.  She was broken.  And yes, she was bitter.  Unable to conceive, she was in inner turmoil.  The Hebrew word for “bitterness” means bitter taste or inner pain.  She was experiencing both.  We have limited knowledge to what was taking place here in 1 Samuel 1.  But we cannot help but speculate that her bitterness was taking its toll on her personally as well as her marriage.

The story is kept simple.  And even though we only need 10 verses to see Hannah’s agony.  We only need a few words to see her response to the bitterness.

Hannah turned to the Lord.

It may sound like a religious cop-out, but something far deeper was happening than a religious crutch.  She was emptying her burden/bitterness upon the shoulders of God.  It wasn’t for a moment of release.  It says in verse 12 she “continued praying before the Lord.” She refused to live in bitterness.  She didn’t succumb to its venom.  Hannah didn’t play games with it.  She opened up, faced it, and cried out to the Lord for help.

There is a beauty to the simplicity of Hannah’s response.  Bitterness wants to isolate you and curdle your heart toward your spouse, yourself, and the Lord.  It wants to do its work of separation.  But if we, simply, opened up to face it head on, we’d see that bitterness is normal for us to face but abnormal for us to carry. Your shoulders where never built to hold it.

One of my favorite scriptures says this:

Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you. Psalm 55:22

Are you harboring bitterness?  Have you succumb to its venomous hold?  Has your heart started curdling toward your spouse? Then do yourself and your marriage a favor.

In bitterness of soul…cast your burden on the Lord. And if you will, his promise is he will sustain you.

For Hannah, God gave her a son Samuel that would bless a nation..  For you, I do not know what God has planned, but I believe though you, God will birth great things that will bless the world around you.

Stop feeding the defectives of marriage.
Stop being bitter.
Cast your burden on the Lord.

Thanks for letting me ramble…

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