Monday, February 15, 2016

Satan's Foolproof Plan for Bitterness and Discouragement

          We all want to be bitter and discouraged, don’t we?  But how do we get there? 

            Well, don’t worry, I can help you with that!  Because I have put together a simple guide to help us succeed in becoming better bitter people.  It's for those of us who seem to enjoy wallowing in misery but don't know how to get there.  (For those who don't like wallowing in misery and who are seriously struggling with depression and discouragement, check out "Is Depression a Sin?" instead, the post before this one.)  And I can just about guarantee that if you carefully follow each of these steps, you too will be bitter in no time. 
            So if you want to discover the delicious power, delightful self-abuse, and ultra-fun finger-pointing that come with bitterness, this is what you have been looking for:

“Satan’s Foolproof Plan for Bitterness and discouragement:
Thirty Simple Steps to Finding the Miserable Life that You are Searching For.”



            1.  “It’s not fair!” 
            Always remember these words and say them often.  Repeat them daily in your mind.  Compare yourself to other people every chance you get and say, “It’s not fair!”  It doesn’t matter what it’s about . . . “It’s not fair!” 
            They got a new car?  “It’s not fair!” 
            Their house is nicer than yours?  “It’s not fair!”
            They went on an island vacation while you went camping?  “It’s not fair!”
            Their lilac bloomed a week before yours did?  “It’s not fair!”
            They bought a lizard?  But you hate lizards?  Doesn’t matter . . . “It’s not fair!”
            (This gets easier the more you practice it!  And it’s fun to find all the different ways you can apply “It’s not fair” to life!  There are so many that you’ll never run out of chances to say it!)
            What it all boils down to is count other people’s blessings instead of your own.  This will help ensure that you grow bitter in the easiest, quickest way possible. 

            2.  “Why me?” 
            Whenever hard times or trials strike, always ask “Why me?” 
            But not as a real, heart-felt cry to God, where you are calling out to Him in your pain and wanting to genuinely understand and to humble yourself before Him in transparency.  (Yuck!  That will only draw Him nearer to you!) 
            Make it more like an “I don’t deserve this” kind of whine.  Grumbling, if you will.  This will shed doubt on His goodness and sovereignty and help you to successfully wallow in misery.
            And if you add “It’s not fair,” you will be on the fast-track to bitterness and discouragement.  Remember, you deserve to have things go your way!  And you deserve to grumble when things don’t go your way! 
            [And always tell yourself, “I have it worse!”  In fact, never look too closely at anyone else’s pain or trials.  Because this will hamper your ability to comfortably cry out “Why me?” and “It’s not fair” whenever you want.  And definitely never try to help others in their struggles!  Focus only on you.  Others can fend for themselves!]

            3.  Remember this truth: “God owes me!”
            Keep high, unbiblical expectations of what you deserve and how God should act, how He should answer your prayers, how your life should be, and what He should do for you.  Discontentment happens when we focus on all the things that God isn’t giving us that we feel we deserve.  And bitterness follows discontentment.  So start making up that list of all the things you think God should do for you and what kind of a God you want Him to be! 

            4.  Also remember this: “It’s all about me!”
            Have high expectations of what other people should do for you and how they should treat you.  Even better if you call them “needs.”  As in “I need it to be this way and I cannot live without it.”  This gives you a great excuse to be bitter and to wallow in your misery when others fail to meet your expectations or give you what you “need,” as they all will at some point. 
            And it’s even more effective if you don’t tell them what you expect out of them but then you hold it against them when they fail you.  And expect them to read your mind or to know that you are upset with them and why.  This is great for ruining marriages and friendships because it sets them up to fail and doesn’t give them a fair chance. 
            And don’t go soft on them.  They deserve to have it held against them when they fail to meet your expectations or do things your way.  In fact, regularly rehearse these paraphrased lines from The Karate Kid: 
            “Mercy does not exist in this bitter heart, does it?”  No way!
            “Grace does not exist in this bitter heart, does it?”  No way!
            “Understanding does not exist in this bitter heart, does it?”  No way!
            “Forgiveness does not exist in this bitter heart, does it?”  No way!
            Anytime someone wrongs you, you have a right to hold a grudge.  Anything they say or do can and should be used against them.  After all, they deserve it!  (And if you want to get upset or are looking for a fight, you can spin just about anything someone says or does into an offense against you.  So be creative!)   
            [And don’t believe the Bible when it says that you are to forgive others as God forgave you.  We all know that their speck is always bigger than your plank.  God just does not want you to enjoy the delightful power that comes with manipulating other people to get what you want, with holding things against them, and with holding things over their heads.  Besides, if you don’t punish them, who will?]

            5.  “I deserve to be happy!”
            This one goes along with the one above.  The commercials are right: “You deserve it!”  You should get the things that you want and that make you happy.  After all, it’s all about being happy in this lifetime, not about building up your treasures in heaven.  You can’t even enjoy those eternal ones right now anyway.  What a scam!  (Besides, how can you be sure that those “treasures in heaven” are even real?  It might just be a creative way of saying, “Joke’s on you, sucker!  Shoulda had fun on earth when you had the chance!”) 
            Always go for happiness that is based on getting what you want, instead of going for that invisible and intangible “joy in the Lord.”  Immediate pleasures instead of eternal treasures.
            Now, of course, this one is a bit of an oxymoron because immediate pleasures are sure to make you happy for a while.  But hang in there!  It will eventually cause discontentment and discouragement because “happiness” is a constantly-moving, ever-morphing, wishy-washy target that will leave you never truly satisfied, joyful, or content.  Because as soon as you get what you want, you will find something else to set your heart on.  And you won’t be happy until you get it.  And the cycle goes on!  If you want to be bitter, go for happiness and immediate pleasure, not joy or heaven’s treasure!

            6.   “I’m such a failure!” 
            Now, don’t just stop at having high, inflexible expectations of others and of God - have them of yourself, too.  And make them so high that you cannot meet them.  Expect more out of yourself than you expect out of others.  And have more grace for others than you do for yourself.  Remember, they are human and can struggle with human-problems, but you are special and should not be allowed to make the same kinds of mistakes or have the same shortcomings or imperfections that others do.  No mercy for you!  Set your bar so high that you are sure to fail.  This way, when you do fail to meet your expectations, you can beat yourself up about it and feel worse.  [As an added bonus, this will make you want to retreat from other people (and from God) because you will feel worthless and pathetic by comparison.  And this will add greatly to your discouragement!  Yay for you!]

            7.  And take everything too seriously!
            Get angry at yourself for every little mistake you make and every little imperfection.  Never lighten up or learn to laugh at yourself for your remarkable ability to be human.  And take everything personally.  Get offended easily.  Always assume that people are attacking you or mocking you or criticizing you.  Because you are most likely right!  They are! 
            Make everything about you!  If someone laughs across the room, it’s about you.  If someone doesn’t return a phone call, it’s because they hate you (not because they were busy or anything like that).  If someone doesn’t wave at you in the store, it’s because they think you are stupid and not worth the time (not because they didn’t see you or recognize you)! 
            Never learn to let things roll off your back.  Let every negative thing stick.  In fact, even if it’s not negative, pretend that it is!  There’s always a way to spin it!  And before you know it, you’ll be stewing in bitterness and self-loathing.

            8.  Hang around with negative people!
            And let their negativity into your heart and mind.  Absorb their negative attitude and outlook.  And have lots of negative conversations where you train each other in the fine art of being critical and cynical.  And if they are critical of you, let their criticisms redefine how you see yourself, taking the place of God’s view of you.  I mean, if they see it and believe it about you, then it must be true! 

            9.  Stay inside a lot!
            No hobbies, no getting out and taking walks, no engaging in life and with other people.  Just wallow in your misery and feed your discontentment by curling up in your bed all day with the blankets pulled over your head.  And don’t even think about cleaning your house or doing anything productive.  When you want to be discouraged and bitter, it’s so much more effective to sit there and stare, to sigh a lot, and to come up with all sorts of “Life would be better if only . . . ” fantasies. 
            “Life would be better if only so-and-so called me to say they're sorry.”
            “Life would be better if only I married that other person.”
            “Life would be better if only everyone else recognized how smart I am and did things my way.”
            “Life would be better if only I had a pet unicorn.”
            “Life would be better if only I stopped thinking about all the ways life would be better.”
            Creating those big, beautiful “If only . . .” fantasies takes time and energy.  So do not use up your precious time and energy on cleaning the house or doing something productive or fun.  This way, you ensure that you feel more miserable at the end of the day!  (And never listen to encouraging, godly music.  Depressing or angry music only!  I mean it!)

            10.  Don’t smile!
            In fact, practice your best “I hate everyone” face and walk around with a scowl.  (And I’m not just talking about a frown here.  You gotta really focus on your eyes.  It’s the eyes that sell it!)  And drag others down with you by always complaining to anyone who will listen about everything that’s wrong and about how unfair life is.  This will help keep the cycle of discouragement going because eventually no one will want to talk to you and then you can get upset that no one wants to talk to you and then you can complain about how no one wants to talk to you to the next person who will talk to you.  And so it goes!  Very effective! 
            (Even better if you act like it’s a burden to even be talking to the people you are talking to about how much of a burden everything is.  It’s like hitting two birds with one stone!  But this is for those more skilled in bitterness.  So maybe beginners shouldn’t try this one.)

            11.  Another option: Be a “people-pleaser”!
            Seek to please everyone around you and to be everything to everybody.  Always smile!  Always make everyone else feel good!  Always make life easier for everyone else!  Always take responsibility for everything so that no one else has to!  And always – always – hide the “real you” so that you can be the “you” that everyone else wants you to be!   
            This will always keep you busy and discouraged because there will always be someone who doesn’t like what you are doing and someone who will always be grumpy and critical no matter what.  This is a “no win” situation and perfect for breeding discouragement!

            12.  Try to earn God’s love, grace, and attention!
            And the best way to do this is to always do more spiritual things to earn His favor.  Always try to have the “right” attitude, to pray the “right” words, to take on more godly roles in church, and to always do the “right” thing.  God will only love you if you do everything just right!  So don’t even think about approaching Him until you have cleaned yourself up and done a lot of impressive things.  Get a good, long list of all your accomplishments and then maybe – just maybe – He’ll let you get close to Him!  

            13.  And remember, never let your humanity show!
            Never admit to Him (or to other people) that you are weak and sinful and struggling, or that your heart hurts and that you are fearful and doubtful and don’t know what to do.  Weakness is for wimps!  And doubts and fears are for little, whiner, diaper-baby Christians. 
            And you don’t want to be a wimpy, whiner, diaper-baby Christian, do you?  No!
            The only kind of Christian to be is a good, polished one, where you hide all your sins, struggles, pain, doubts, and fears. 
            Keep the bad things inside, hide them in your heart, and always wear that polished “Good Christian” mask!  If you can hide all the bad stuff from God and do all the “Good Christian” things that you are supposed to do, He will be more pleased with you and love you more!  (And so will all the other nicely-polished Christians!)
            When people look at you, they should see a perfect “model Christian” with none of the faults or shortcomings that others have.  And they should see someone who has all the answers and who can handle any situation without needing anyone else’s help, even God’s. 
            This is an important step on the journey to bitterness and discouragement because trying to maintain that 854-pound, polished, “good Christian” mask is sure to exhaust you and make you feel more alone and make you feel worse about yourself, others, and God, which will sour your Christian walk and confuse your faith. 

            14.  “I can do it myself.”
            Along the same lines, always remember the three most important rules for discouragement: “Self-sufficiency!  Self-sufficiency!  Self-sufficiency!”
            Always try to handle every problem in your own strength and wisdom.  And convince yourself that this is what a “good Christian” does.  Never admit that you don’t know what to do, that you can’t keep all the balls up in the air, and that you need help, especially God’s help.  Never come to Him in humility, admitting that you desperately need Him.  It’s okay to want Him – a little extra frosting on the “I can do it all on my own” cake - but never really need Him.
            Because humbling yourself before God – while it may hurt for a time – will cause you to grow in your spiritual walk and in your faith and in your trust of God’s love.  And this – yuck! – will make you more content and joyful in any situation as He molds you into the person He wants you to be and helps you develop the relationship with Him that He wants you to have.
            But we’re going for discouragement and bitterness here, remember!?!  And the “independent, self-sufficient life” will always cause discontentment, discouragement, fear, and exhaustion because you will always feel like it’s all up to you, like you have to bear the weight of the world on your shoulders, and like God can’t be trusted to handle it.  And this will drive a wedge in your walk with God.
            So regularly remind yourself: “I am in control!  It’s all up to me!  I can handle it!  I have to handle it!  And I don’t need anyone!”

            15.  Never be teachable or listen to what other godly people have to say! 
            You are so smart that you don’t need them!  (Feels good hearing that, doesn’t it?)  In fact, you should always seek to be the teacher and never the student!  Never see things their way or admit you were wrong or that you have more to learn on this journey through life or that someone else has learned valuable, godly lessons that you haven’t yet learned!  This way, when they don’t recognize your obvious superiority and the fact that God has especially anointed you with extra wisdom, you can be indignant and bitter.  How dare they? 
            For good measure, look down on others and pass judgment on them a lot.  After all, you deserve to look down on them because you are superhuman and you are so much more advanced in your spiritual walk and you don’t struggle in life the way they do!  And they can learn a thing or two from you! 
            But the only thing you can learn from them - those weak, pathetic, insignificant humans - is how to be humble and genuine and gracious.  (Wait . . . scratch that!  Those are good, godly, spiritual-growth kinds of things.  Here let me try again . . .)  The only thing you can learn from them is how to be needy and dependent and compassionate!  (Dang, those are good things, too.  Hold on!  One more spin . . . )  The only thing you can learn from them is how to be weak, pathetic, and insignificant.  (There, that’s better.) 

            16.  And always be the master!  Never the servant! 
            Others are here for you, not the other way around!  Make sure that you use them for what you can get out of them.  Demand that they listen to you, acknowledge how right you are, build up your ego, take care of your “needs,” and that they always do things your way.  Always look out for #1! 
            And who’s #1?  You are, Silly!  Never forget that! 
            In fact, use others to boost yourself in any and every way you can, even gossiping about them to tear them down in other people’s eyes.  You will look better by comparison.  Trust me!
            [Now, while this won’t exactly make you bitter or discouraged right away because it will feel good for a time, it will pay off in the end when it ruins your relationships with others and with God and when people fail you, giving you the opportunity to be bitter.  So hang in there.  It takes time to ruin your relationships and alienate others, but the bitterness and discouragement that will come eventually are worth it.] 
           
            17.  Never step out in faith!
            Self-sufficiency and the need to be “in control” lead us to the next step: Never step out in faith!  Always wait until you see the big picture and always expect to have all the answers up front before you trust God with your life.  (This will help you get stuck in your spiritual walk, which is great for discouragement!) 
            And always remember that you have veto-power over anything He wants to do in your life or any step He wants you to take.  Make Him run His plans past you!  Lead, don’t follow!  And if He reveals a step He wants you to take, doubt and wait for signs and wring your hands in fear that it’s not going to work out.  Convince yourself that He can’t be trusted!  Trust only yourself!  You are smart enough and strong enough!  And you can do whatever you want!

            18.  “No one understands or cares.” 
            Always nurse your wounds in private and hide your pain away in a little, padded, locked room of your heart where no one can touch it, even God.  Never be vulnerable!  Protect yourself from ever being hurt again by pushing people away and by keeping God an arm’s length away.  Keep Him out of the deepest, darkest parts of your heart by employing that “polished, Good Christian mask” that we talked about.  Always keep a smile on your face and be happy with whatever comes your way.  Never be honest with Him about pain, fear, and doubt that is in your heart.
            Honesty would be like opening your heart to God, and that might lead to His truth and love seeping in and healing the broken parts.  And we can’t have that, now can we?  Because it is the opposite of discouragement and bitterness.  So you need to protect these broken parts from anyone because no one cares or understands or can heal it, not even God!  Besides, if you don’t acknowledge the pain . . . then it’s not really there anyway!      

            19.  “I am always the victim!”
            In any and every situation where something goes wrong, repeat this to yourself: “I am always the victim!”  This way, you get to hunker down in a little “pity party,” always blaming everyone else for everything that goes wrong.  And you never have to take responsibility for your part in anything or for hurting another person.   Because you are the victim!  And if you’re the victim, no one else gets to be!  And victims get to judge everyone else’s behavior and lash out at others without ever having to look at themselves.  And you get to retreat from everyone else because “they can’t be trusted.” 
            So this is a “win” on several fronts!  You get dwell on what everyone else is doing wrong while excusing anything that you do wrong!  You get to blame everyone else for your problems and have an excuse for why you are the way you are.  And you get to withhold forgiveness and harbor bitterness while launching poisonous arrows at everyone else from your self-protective “fortress of solitude,” without ever having to say you’re sorry!  I can’t think of a better, quicker way to reach bitterness!
            [Oh, and always make sure to only see things from your perspective.  Whenever you face an inconvenience or a trial, only think about how it affects you.  Never think about how someone else might have been affected or about what they are going through or about how the inconvenience or trial might have been orchestrated by God for someone else’s (or maybe even your own) benefit.  Remember, "It's all about me!  I am the victim!  And I deserve to whine!"] 

`           20.  Relive the past!
            Reflect often on the hard times and injustices of the past, but never with the intention of working through them or asking God to heal them.  Only remember them to relive them and beat yourself up about it and to mentally beat others up about it and to mull over all the things that have gone wrong because of it and to excuse yourself of any responsibility that you have to make life better.  Do this, and you are guaranteed to feel worse.  Plus, if you only relive it to wallow in it (instead of letting God heal it) then you are sure to pass down the same kinds of problems to your children or to other people.   

            21.  “Lord, change them!  Not me!”
            Since we are pointing the fingers at others (so much fun!), let’s remember the importance of always praying, “Lord, change them.”  Remember that you are never at fault.  It’s always them and so they should always be the one to change, to apologize first, to take the first step to reconciliation, and to fix what’s broken.  This is a great prayer to pray for two reasons. 
            First, if they don’t change then you get to be bitter, hold it against them, make them responsible for any falling out, and blame them for how you have to react to them.  After all, since they wouldn’t change, they made you do whatever you did in reaction, right?  Such as, “My spouse wouldn’t change and so I had to throw a fit (or get revenge or get a divorce or have an affair or whatever).  They weren’t meeting my needs and I wasn’t happy.  It’s all their fault!  Life would have been so much better if only they would have changed!” 
            (See how I did that?  Tying the “life would be better if only . . .” step to the “Lord, change them” step.  If you learn to successfully do this, you can convince yourself that you are doing a godly thing – praying about your situation and hoping it would change – without actually having to do anything to change yourself.  Don’t worry, if you keep practicing, you’ll become as skilled as I am.  Trust me!) 
            Second, you get to be bitter at God and discouraged in your faith.  Because God did not make them do what you wanted them to do.  (It doesn’t matter that it’s up to us to obey God’s nudges and to choose to follow Him and to do the right thing.  You can still blame God for not forcing them to change, even if that’s not how He works!) 
            And since He can’t be trusted to do things your way, you don’t have to listen to the nudges that He gives you.  You get to place full blame and responsibility on the other person and on God.  And this is very effective in developing bitterness and discontentment! 
            (Plus, if you start praying “Lord, change me,” you might just lose that nice, cushy, powerful, “victim” position that we love so much, that lets us manipulate others, and that excuses any shortcoming we have or bad decisions we make.  If you get off of the "victim seat" for even a second, someone else will steal it.  Don't say I didn't warn you!)   

            22.  Do your work for the wrong reasons and wrong rewards!
            Say it with me: “Seek earthly pleasures over heaven’s treasures.”  Always work for appreciation from other people, for visible approval, for earthly success, for a pat on the back, to impress others, to make others happy, or to feel more important or special.  Always remember that your value is equal to your checking account and your earthly accomplishments and possessions.  And the only things that count are what you can see and if other people recognize your efforts and successes.  (Even better if you always strive to top their successes.)
            This will keep you always striving to do more and to be better and to get more.  Never let yourself become content with the role or gifts that God has given you and with the fact that  He sees your efforts and that He appreciates when you do your best for His glory (no matter how small the task) and that He will reward your faithfulness in the end.  If you don’t see the rewards on earth or feel “happy” with your life, you are not doing good enough.  So try harder and buy more! 
           
            23.  Take giant gulps of the future instead of daily, bite-sized nibbles.
            Never look only at what God asks you to do each day.  Always look ahead at all the things you have to get done over the course of the next weeks, months, and years.  Keep your eyes especially on all the things you can’t control, the things you don’t know how to handle, and on all the things that could possibly go wrong.  This will overwhelm you and make you feel discouraged, just like you want.  Because life will feel like it’s too much to bear and you’ll feel like you will never be able to do enough or accomplish anything.   
            And whenever you face setbacks or obstacles, remember that God likes to lead people down discouraging dead-ends.  Just for fun!  He likes to mess with your head.  Just because He can!  It’s not like He’s got a plan that He’s working out or anything like that.  It’s just that He’s messing with you and your life.  Just to see what you’d do.  So go ahead and wallow in distrust and doubt and fear.  You deserve to!     

            24.  Always look at what you didn’t get done!
            Never look at what you accomplished each day.  Only look at the things you couldn’t get done while you were busy doing the things you did get done.  That way, you’ll never feel like you did anything worthwhile.  It also helps to look at what others accomplished or at their successes, so that you can compare it to your pathetic-ness. 
            And for good measure, take on extra responsibilities and burdens that are not yours to bear.  Never say “no” to a request and don’t have any boundaries.  Then not only will you be overwhelmed and discouraged, but you’ll end up bitter with others for taking advantage of you, you’ll be jealous of their accomplishments, and you’ll blame God for being so unfair to give you such heavy burdens and too much to do every day.

            25.  Never be flexible!
            Set your heart on what you want and do anything to get it.  Always expect that He should change His plans to match yours.  And if He doesn’t answer you the way you want, remember that it’s because He doesn’t care about you or He isn’t listening. 
            And if the answers don’t come as quickly as you want, it’s because He is too slow, not that you are too fast or impatient!  So don’t hesitate to help His plan along a little or to pry open the doors that aren’t opening fast enough.  He might be busy with other things and you’re just not that high on His list of priorities! 

            26.  Don’t read the Bible or pray!
            This is a simple, easy-to-do, effective step for many reasons. 
            - You will not get to know God as He really is and so you can keep viewing Him out of your misconceptions, presumptions, and expectations.  This will discourage you in your spiritual life when God doesn’t do what you thought He should do.
            - You won’t discover what He really expects of you and what He really says about certain issues, so you never have to feel guilty or convicted, like you have to change your behavior or your life.  You will be able to go on being comfortable and focused on your nice, little life.  This will discourage you eventually when you finally sense the distance that you didn’t know was growing between you and God.  And by then, you will have made such a mess of your life that you are sure to be upset and bitter.  (Score!) 
            - You will be able to keep control of  your life, keeping God from interfering and from asking you to do something you don’t want to do.  (Who needs His input or help anyway!?!)
            - You will be able to let your feelings rule, instead of letting God’s Truth rule.  (It’s always better to let your feelings be your guide, instead of God’s Word.  This is sure to get you in trouble now and then and to discourage you when things don’t go your way or don’t make sense.)  
           
- You will be able to wallow in despair because you will never have to see just how much God loves you in His Word and how He is constantly reaching out to you to offer you His help, wisdom, healing, grace, mercy, forgiveness, and love.  Those things are like a “death blow” to discouragement and bitterness.  So don’t go near the Word or prayer.  Ever! 
            (And if you do falter and find yourself wanting to open the Bible, only do it like once a month or so.  Just enough to give you a little booster shot of God but not enough to make you feel uncomfortable, convicted, or challenged to change your life.)   

            27.  In fact, treat all problems and conflicts as earthly battles, never spiritual battles!
            It’s so much easier to stay bitter and discouraged if you see conflicts and trials as insurmountable problems that you have to face alone and if you focus on people, on fighting against flesh-and-blood through a war of words, manipulative tactics, and passive-aggressive strategies.  Because if you started to see trials and conflicts as spiritual battles, you might just begin to rely on God and the Holy Spirit and Jesus’ name.  And you might end up putting on your spiritual armor and fighting with spiritual weapons against spiritual enemies.
            And Satan (oops, Freudian slip)  I mean you . . . You can’t have that happening.  Not when discouragement and bitterness are the goals! 
            And as an added bonus for Satan (oops, there I go again) for you, bitterness and discouragement lead to spiritual stagnation and ineffectiveness.  The more you focus on your problems and your depression and on all the people that wrong you, the less you focus on God and His gifts, His love, His help, His Kingdom, His righteousness, and His priorities.  And that’s just what Satan (dang, I can’t keep this straight) you want! 
            So always wallow in bitterness.  Always pour your energy into earthly battles.  Always remember that “other people are the real enemies.”  Never seek God’s help in fixing anything or in opening your eyes to the real battle.  Never get in touch with God’s healing love in the Bible.  And don’t touch that spiritual armor. 
            And always remember this: spiritual enemies are not real . . . they are just imaginary . . . medieval myths . . . and you don’t need to fight against myths!
           
            28.  Never attempt to learn to be content in the trials and the pain!
            Always expect that God should change your tough circumstances.  After all, that’s what He does for “good Christians,” right?  He gives you whatever you want and fixes all your problems the way you think He should!?!  Surely, He wouldn’t expect you to praise Him when things aren’t going your way, would He?  I mean, does He even deserve our praise when things don’t go our way and when we don’t get what we want? 
            And it’s even a bonus for you if He doesn’t do things your way because you get to complain and be even more bitter.  So remember that it’s “My Will be done, not Yours, Lord” and “Blessed be the name of the Lord if He gives but never takes away.”  Or something like that!

            29.  Remember this: Prayer is a formula and God is a Vending Machine!
            God is here to give us what we want, as long as we push the right buttons, pray the right way, say the right words, have the right attitude, be a good person, and be an even better Christian.  And if you can figure out the secret “prayer formula” and do it just right, you will get whatever you want.  And God can be manipulated and bribed by us and our pleasing efforts, great prayers, spiritual successes, and good behavior. 
            The way this helps increase our discontentment and bitterness is when things don’t go according to plan.  Because then our faith, our self-views, and our view of God get shaken to the core and nothing makes sense anymore.  And if you stop at this point – at the discouragement and bitterness over things not going your way – and you let it destroy your faith and your view of God, you’ll be bitter and discouraged for a long, long time.  So don’t try to bring all that doubt and pain to God.  Because He might heal it and help you see things more clearly (ugh!), and you might end up letting go of that bitterness as you learn to trust Him more for the God that He really is.  (And Satan doesn’t you don’t want that, do you?)

            30.    “I’m not worthy. I don’t deserve it.” 
            Let this seep deep into your heart and mind.  “I am not worthy of God’s forgiveness, grace, love, mercy, etc. . . . I am a pathetic failure and disappointment . . . I have fallen too far for Him to care about or love.” 
            And never let anyone convince you of that Bible "blah-blah nonsense” which says that you don’t have to be – and can never be - worthy or deserving of God’s love, forgiveness, grace, mercy, etc., that He already loves you now as much as He ever could, and that His gifts (His forgiveness and grace) are free gifts which can never be earned but can only be accepted in thankfulness and humility if you will just open your hands and receive them. 
            Where’s the fun in that? 


            I hope this helps you on your journey of growing in bitterness and discouragement!  Even trying just a few of them should get the stewing started!  In fact, I can personally attest to the effectiveness of these steps in helping you achieve the miserable life that you want!

(Disclaimer:  If these steps did not work for you, there’s always tomorrow!  Another chance to be discouraged about something!  Hang in there, your time will come!)   

          So how about you?  Any tips that you would add to this list?     

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A place for you to share your thoughts and to encourage each other. But please understand that as a busy homeschooling mom who is seldomly on-line, I may not be able to reply to most comments. But I will be reading them as I can and praying for you. Thank you for your comments! Please keep them godly and uplifting, as I will delete any that are mean or ungodly. I intend for this to be a safe place where people feel encouraged and respected.