While making pasta sauce the other night, I tried to multi-task and do some on-line research. I lost track of time and my sauce cooked for way too long. The water evaporated taking the sweetness along with it leaving a thick and bitter sauce. I closed my women’s history tabs and started a Google search looking for a way to undo my mistake. One site suggested I sauté a sweet onion and shredded carrots in olive oil and brown sugar and then add that mix to the sauce. The high pH, or “sweetness”, of the sautéed additives was supposed to neutralize some of the acidity of the tomatoes thereby sweetening the mix. It worked – the sauce was deliciously sweet!
Now that dinner was saved, I went back to my reading. I read about prominent women of the last couple of centuries and their long lists of accomplishments and contributions to culture and society. Common attitude traits transformed women who could have become victims of history into victorious history changers. Although many lived during harrowing times, these historic women gained notoriety by embracing a vision more positive than the reality that surrounded them. This vision came through obedience to their belief in Providence and deliverance. They avoided bitterness and hopelessness by, if you will allow me to use my sauce example, “sweetening” their outlooks with fearlessness, faith and thankfulness for whatever good they could find.
My thoughts moved beyond culinary chemistry as I began to consider human nature. I’ve heard bitterness is really a form of unforgiveness and unforgiveness is a kind of acid that eats away at everyone it touches. Put another way, bitterness is a kind of emotional poison that a person drinks to prevent themselves and others from being healed from a wound or a loss of some kind. It is also a roadblock to deliverance. Do you know anyone who is holding onto bitterness and, by doing so, is missing out on the deliverance that leads to a victorious and abundant life?
I can think of no better examples contrasting bitterness and sweetness than Naomi and Ruth from the Bible’s Old Testament book of Ruth. All the ingredients were in place for a very bitter life full of defeat. The story reminds me of John Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath”. Naomi’s family is forced to leave their homeland because of famine. Having lost everything they own, they go searching for food and work in a foreign land. In that land, Naomi’s husband and sons die leaving her to become a destitute widow. She decides to return to Bethlehem and one of her daughters-in-law, Ruth, goes with her. Once back in her own country, Naomi cannot overcome the bitterness she feels as a result of all she has lost and actually asks to be called “Mara” which means “bitter”. However Ruth, realizing life must go on, looks for opportunity to “sweeten” their circumstances. She looks for good and is thankful when she finds it. Ruth overcomes fear and adopts a faith that is foreign to her. She learns of a provision that allows for gleaning from farmers’ fields. Although humiliating, Ruth obediently takes her place as a gleaner and God begins to bring blessings into her and Naomi’s lives. What could have been a bitter end for Naomi and Ruth was transformed into deliverance all because of Naomi’s choice to obediently follow God’s will and turn from bitter to sweet. What’s the pH of your life – is it acidic or sweet?
© 2015 Curt Savage Media