I have a son whose father left me for a younger woman at the time the child was born. Since then, even though I have a strong temperament and personality, I haven’t been the same again. I have struggled to be happy, not with another man but with my son and those around me, but it has been very difficult. I am full of bitterness. I have mistreated my son and my father. I continue to go to church, but each time it’s as if I had not gone…. I don’t know how to be able to smile again.

Dear Friend,

We are saddened by your story. We regret that you, your son, and your father have all suffered, not only because of your son’s father, but also because of your anger and bitterness. We know that there are hundreds of thousands of people who understand how you feel because it has also happened to them.

We congratulate you for continuing to go to church even though it hasn’t made any difference in how you feel. Doing the right thing even when it doesn’t feel good is often a way to begin the process of healing. However, just going to church will not change you or heal you. That is similar to going to a hospital, sitting in the waiting room for a while, and then leaving. Unless you actually speak to a doctor at the hospital and tell him your symptoms, neither the doctor nor the hospital visit can do anything to help you.

Sitting in a church is not much different than sitting in a hospital waiting room. We can go every day and sit there without ever being helped. However, if we listen to a sermon or teaching, and read the verses from the Bible, we might be inspired and motivated to communicate with God. When we meet together with others whose lives have been changed by their relationships with God, faith can grow in our own hearts. So it is not the act of going to the church that can help us, but rather what happens in our hearts when we are inside the church.

Of course, we do not have to go to a church building to communicate with God. He is everywhere, and we can talk to Him anytime. However, strong emotions like anger and bitterness can build a wall that prevents us from being aware of God’s presence.

Even though your son’s father is the one who did something wrong, you are hurting only yourself when you refuse to forgive him. Your lack of forgiveness causes the bitterness and anger that you feel. Of course, he doesn’t deserve to be forgiven. So you can choose to resent him for the rest of your life. However, by doing that you will be consumed by your bitterness, and both you and your son will continue to suffer.

We recommend that you read Case 347 at message2concience.com to learn some strategies on how to smile again.

We wish you the best,