My friend is poisoned with bitterness.

I have a friend who suffered from burn-out at work and suddenly and unexpectedly quit her job.  It’s been a year, and she is still complaining to me about the injustices of it all every time we talk.  She blames her employer for her burn-out and I don’t know what to say to her anymore.

To go for a whole year without working through it tells me that like a wild vine, bitterness has grown unrestrained – to the point that your friend doesn’t want to successfully get to the other side of this.  Instead, she wants something she’s not getting – like vindication, or validation, or an apology for what she’s been through. She’s casting blame instead of accepting responsibility and because she doesn’t really want to deal with these emotions, you are left holding the bag. Galatians 6 tells us we have a responsibility to those in our tribe to gently restore them to spiritual wholeness.  What does that look like for you?

Here are a couple of options.  

  1. Go through the front door (the direct approach).  Bitterness has poisoned her to the point losing objectivity, and she needs to take a look in the mirror instead of blaming others.  Is she a perfectionist? Was she really pushed to the brink by co-workers or did she drive herself to the breaking point? Who is she hurting by carrying this unforgiveness and what is it accomplishing (see Matthew 6:15)? She needs to work through the hard questions with someone (you or a spiritual mentor) who can walk her through the steps to forgiveness and healing.
  2. Take the back door approach (less direct).  Thank your friend for trusting you to stand by her for the past year. But as she hasn’t been able to work through it by now with your support, she needs to take it to the next level by seeking the help of a spiritual mentor or a therapist.  As patient as you’ve been, she has heart work to do and it’s time for you to take a step back as she decides her next move. Gently extricate yourself from this situation and bathe her in prayer as you point her in the direction of further help.

Whichever door you choose, please know I’m praying for you and your friend.


“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”  — Luke 6:37 (NIV)

Suggested reading: Forgive and Forget by Lewis B. Smedes