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How to Release Anger and Bitterness

Adapted from an original article by Mark Riggins who wrote STUCK When You Want to Forgive but Don’t Know How which is available on Amazon.

You’re going to hurt people and people are going to hurt you. As John Ortberg says living with people is like “dancing with porcupines.” So what will you do when you get hurt?


As soon as I read the email from my Boss, my heart skipped a beat: “JT, come to my office as soon as you can.” You know that feeling when you sense something isn’t right? Did I do something? I start going over everything I could have done to find myself in this predicament. 

As I walked into the large office, he said, “Hey man, why don’t you close the door?” My heart was pounding. I shut the door and sat in the office chair facing his desk. This man and I had become good friends and I looked to him as a mentor. I didn’t know it, but he was about to make a shocking announcement and instantly end our friendship and my involvement within the community I was working in. 

Due to a philosophical difference and the school "wanting to move in a new direction" he announced that I would have my contract extended and I needed to find a new place to work.

When he finished, he looked up and calmly asked, “Do you have any questions?” We sat without speaking, a moment of silence for the end of our friendship and the end to many of the relationships I have grown fond of would now be ending at this place I have given so much too. Then I said the only words that seemed appropriate, “Well, this sucks.” He agreed. We both were mutually saddened by this event. 

I stood up and slowly walked out of his office perplexed about what to do next. I already felt something hurting deep inside of me. My mind raced in a thousand different directions simultaneously.

Now what?


“Learn from it and move on. Forgive and start moving forward.” My coach (Dave Kraft) had told me during one of our coaching calls. I almost didn't want to. Being a victim and having people on your side validate the hurt that I still felt. I took a deep breath and agreed, like you do when someone says something completely true but completely unhelpful. The only problem is that I didn't know how. That’s the problem. I’m stuck! "What specifically can I do?” I thought. I was exhausted and emotional. Something had to change. I was even in a new position that I truly loved, but emotionally still holding onto feelings I wish I didn't have. 


Maybe you’ve experienced something much more painful. Your ex-spouse, a parent, a co-worker, or a close friend hurt you.

Your hurt may include a divorce, bankruptcy, a job loss, betrayal, abuse, or broken trust. The day you’re hurt is a bad day, but the unrelenting weight of a heavy grudge is even worse, isn’t it? When you want to forgive but don’t know how, you feel stuck.

In a nationwide Gallup poll, 94 percent of people said it was important to forgive, but 85 percent said they would need outside help in order to forgive. Apparently, many of us are stuck.

It's hard to forgive. But, through wise counsel and good friendships I learned how. 

Here are 6 steps that helped me completely forgive and move forward:

Stop telling your story as a victim
Forgiveness isn’t found in speaking but in surrendering. (Isa. 53:7)

Assess your Injury
“General forgiveness does not heal specific hurts. It’s important to pinpoint what was taken from you.” -Andy Stanley

Value your offender
You do not condone what they did, but you recognize that they are more than what they did. (Luke 23:34)

Intercede for your offender
“The more I pray for an idiot the less idiotic they become.” –Daniel Hahn (Matt. 5:44)

Own your part
As long as you remain 100% focused on their guilt, you will remain 100% stuck. You are need share some of the responsibility of why you were forced to leave. 

Release their debt
“Getting over a painful experience is much like crossing monkey bars. You have to let go at some point in order to move forward.” -C.S. Lewis

What have you found is helpful in releasing anger and bitterness?