A bitter Spider-man

Holding onto anger and bitterness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.

We know this, but we don’t ever really want to accept it to be true—Rather, we want to hold onto the anger, the bitterness, the grudge.

Musicians funnel their hurt and turmoil into songs—according to one reddit thread I found, 76% of Taylor Swift’s discography is about love & relationships. She’s well known for the break-up song!

Athletes call it a “chip on his shoulder,” leveraging their anger or resentment from being passed over or left out to fuel their efforts.

According to Urban Dictionary, a “chip on his shoulder” comes from a way of settling a conflict. Someone would put an actual chip of wood on their shoulder and dare the other person to hit it off.

New Series: Fallen Heroes

“Overcoming our nemesis to discover our secret identity”

Thanks to Katrina for this series idea and content!

Supposed to be Ironman today, but favorite superhero movie is Spider-man 3!

This is one of my favorite movies ever because I love the images and themes within the movie—plus I still have a crush on Kirsten Dunst as MJ.

For those who don’t remember the movie or haven’t seen it, Tobey Maguire plays the role of Peter Parker, a scrawny, nerdy young man who was bitten by a radioactive spider and developed spider-like superhuman skills.

Kirsten Dunst plays Mary Jane, or MJ, Peter’s secret crush and eventual love interest in the third movie.

In the first Spider-Man movie, Peter’s beloved uncle Ben is tragically killed in a car-jacking and, even in the third movie, Peter is still haunted by his death.

We’re going to show a clip from Spider-Man 3, but I want to set it up first.

Peter kisses Gwen at a celebratory event, angering MJ

Peter’s planned marriage proposal bombs

Peter learns of his uncle Ben’s true killer

Peter then spurns MJ’s offer of comfort and companionship

As she leaves, she says to him:

“I don’t want you to do something stupid, something you’ll regret. Everyone needs help,” she says, “even Spider-man.”

Today we’re talking about bitterness, about anger, about holding a grudge.

Whatever we want to call it, I think we understand it’s basically the same thing.

I’ll call it bitterness for today’s purposes.

Bitterness takes us to places we don’t want to go, it makes us do things we never thought we’d do, and it costs us relationships we once valued.

And, once we’ve given in to our bitterness, once we’ve allowed it to overtake us, it’s hard to easily shake off.

Like the professor says in the movie, “once it binds itself, it’s hard to unbind.”

This whole story reminds me of another character, that of King Saul in the Bible.

Who was King Saul?

Who was David?

Read 1 Samuel 18:6-11

This apparently occurs right after David had defeated the giant, Goliath.

Saul wasn’t happy—evil spirit “from God?” –I don’t know…

What I do know is that Saul becomes obsessed with David, neglecting his family, his responsibilities, his kingdom.

Rather, he becomes obsessed with killing David.

But like the saying goes, Saul suffers the far worse fate

as his emotional health, his nation, his family

—and eventually his own life—crumble to pieces.

His army defeated in battle, Saul decides to take his own life.

A tragic ending to a complicated and conflicted person.

Saul is a bit of a dramatic example, but I think you get the point.

Holding onto anger and bitterness really does hurt us more than the other.

So, what can we do?

The Apostle Paul, an influential early leader in Christianity, wrote these words to a group of other Christians in an ancient city called Ephesus:

Read Ephesians 4:31-32

Put aside anger

Forgive as God forgave

And as important as it is to talk about forgiveness, I think it’s just as important for us to talk about what forgiveness is not.

1. Forgiveness does not excuse wrongdoing…

Saying ‘I forgive you’ should also imply, ‘what you did to me is not okay, do not do that again.’

2. Forgiveness is also not a response to someone else’s contrition.

Otherwise, we’d be emotionally held hostage by people who refuse to acknowledge they’ve hurt us.

3. Forgiveness is a spiritual practice we develop over time.

Becoming fully human involved becoming a forgiving person, And, everyday life gives us opportunity after opportunity to hone our skills!

But forgiveness is a powerful thing. We undervalue what a powerful difference it can make in our lives.

I’d liked to show one more clip from the movie.

Near the end of the movie, Peter Parker comes face to face with Sandman, the man who killed his uncle Ben…

I don’t know where you’re at today, what you’re dealing with, what you’re going through.

But if you’re holding onto anger and bitterness, I want to ask you to let it go.

I’m not asking you to pretend the wrong didn’t happen,

I’m not asking you to act like everything is fine.

Rather, I’m simply asking you to let go over the anger, the bitterness, the grudge.

Because the longer we hold onto it, the longer we let it stay with us, the longer we let it fester, It grows, it becomes a part of us, it changes us.

And often enough it ends up hurting us and the ones we love in ways we could have never expected.

(Peter accidently shoving MJ) “Who are you? I don’t know.”

Peter was fortunate, he was able to free himself from the bitterness and anger.

Brock’s character became so enveloped by his anger and bitterness that he was ultimately destroyed by it.

In the moment, bitterness and anger feels exhilarating and empowering,

but in the end, it leaves us lonely and destroyed.

When we let it go, we find peace, freedom, and renewal.

As Peter Parker said,

"Whatever comes our way, whatever battle we have raging inside of us, we always have a choice, my friend Harry taught me that. He chose to be the best of himself. It’s the choices that make us who we are, and we can always choose to do what’s right."

Choose life, choose health, choose forgiveness.

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