One of the signs
is the tendency
to make "judgements" and set "verdicts"
on those that have wronged us or
shamed us or even done us harm.
To understand this, just think of a time when a family member or a close friend shamed you by ignoring you or said something they didn't like about you.
We begin to "judge" them as being thoughtless, uncaring, self-centered, a bad choice for a spouse or a friend, and we let that "verdict" against them...
settle into our hearts to protect ourselves from the deeper pain from the insult, yes, the deeper, almost unbearable pain of being un-loveable, worthless, no-good, ugly, or abandoned.
It isn't really the harm done to us by others that we need to get "settled" with God in prayer, it is these deeper beliefs that come as a result of others' thoughtless or intentional words or deeds. Have a conversation with God: Am I truly un-loveable? God, I believe I'm ugly....they just said it, and I remember when my Aunt told me that when I was young. Listen in the quietness of your soul for God's response... God... what do you think about me? Do you think I am worthless? He wants to speak to the very depth of your pain where lies about yourself are lurking. It is here you will get free of the wrongdoing of others.
Judgment and verdict are the "stuff" bitterness and hatred is made of. Anger, a fruit of bitterness makes us irrational and makes situations so much worse.
Getting free of our lies by drawing into the court room of our God, is where love begins and grows. Even the most horrible wrong done against us can be dealt with once we have that inner peace. Our decisions become more rational, our actions more precise and we usually make situations better. How wonderful it is to be free of the "power" that others have over me when I am in the midst of judging and giving verdicts.
When we become more adept at easily recognize signs of bitterness in ourselves, we can begin to take bitterness to prayer and have the Lord gently but surely release us from this strangle hold that it has on us, one layer at a time. You see, even bad emotions can be turned around for the good.
They can actually be the impetus for our healing and holiness. Don't run away from them, afraid to see the ugliness that lies there. Be patient with yourself. We can be free indeed.
Oh, Happy Lent!