Remove My Bitterness

    “Remove My Bitterness,” Ensign, Oct. 1994, 66

    “Remove My Bitterness”

    Soon after I introduced the gospel to the man who would later become my husband, he experienced a marvelous conversion. A few days before we were married in the Washington Temple, however, he received a note from his mother that read: “If you do this thing, you are no longer my son.” My mother-in-law made good on her threat. For years, the monthly letters I wrote to her went unanswered and unacknowledged.

    One day, however, a letter came, and then a phone call. My husband was very happy to have his family back. As our contact increased, my in-laws never mentioned anything about the past hurt. They acted as though nothing had ever happened.

    My mother-in-law’s contact with us became more frequent after the birth of our daughter, but each tense visit left me filled with tears and anger. When our son was born, I decided I could not continue walking on eggshells. My husband’s parents came for the baby’s blessing, and I confronted my mother-in-law. I shed bitter tears, and she spoke harsh words.

    A few months went by with no communication. Then we were invited to celebrate my father-in-law’s birthday. No, I won’t go, I thought. I had resolved to teach my mother-in-law a lesson by keeping her grandchildren from her.

    Meanwhile, we moved into a new ward. When we met with our new bishop, he perceived that my in-law situation was a thorn in our marriage. He asked my husband if I had just cause for my bitter feelings, and my husband said yes. Nevertheless, the bishop looked me in the eye and said, “You need to let go of the bitterness. Ask the Lord to remove it from your heart.”

    I remembered the bishop’s words as I came across 3 Nephi 12:44–45 [3 Ne. 12:44–45] that night:

    “But behold I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them who despitefully use you and persecute you;

    “That ye may be the children of your Father who is in heaven.”

    I knew that the Lord wanted me to love my mother-in-law, yet how could I love her after all that had happened? I thought of the perfect example of Jesus Christ, who had suffered far more than I could imagine and yet still loved his enemies. I dropped to my knees and asked the Lord to remove my long-held bitterness.

    When we went to the birthday party the next day, I felt a lightness and peace I hadn’t known for years. It was a healing as real as when the Lord caused the blind to see. I had been blinded by grudges and self-pity, but now I could see more clearly into my soul and the soul of my mother-in-law.

    I fully recognized that we were both children of God. She is my sister, I decided, and she needs my love as much as I need hers.