Lord, Make Me Better Not Bitter © Shirley Johnson 1992

Lord, make me better not bitter when life’s been unkind to me

Let the scars that are dark become Your beauty mark

Then Lord, cause me to see

I’ll win or lose by the way that I chose

So teach me Lord, while You’re working on me.



Have you ever gone through a rough patch that was poised to change the course of your life? The above lyrics were penned as a prayer to God during one of those seasons in my life. I loved my job as a classroom music teacher but when a nodule was discovered on my right vocal cord, it not only threatened my career but also my ability to sing.  As I left the surgeon’s office his words echoed in my mind. “Shirley, the surgery is not complicated but it is very delicate and you may never sing again”. I was devastated.

As part of the recovery from surgery, I had to observe several weeks of silence and had lots of time to think. I wondered if I would ever sing again or be able to keep my job.  I knew I was facing a pivotal point in my relationship with God. Could I trust Him to work all things together for my good even if He took something very precious away from me? As I read the Bible, I found hope and help in the verses. I was reassured that God loved me and that He never allows more than we can handle to come into our life. In fact, He invites us to cast all our care on Him and to trust Him. But, when life doesn’t turn out the way we expect, how will we respond?

If you’re like me, sometimes I ask God hard questions. However, I’ve learned some questions are more beneficial than others. Asking WHAT is so much more productive than WHY. Questions like: What does God want to teach me through this? And, what can I learn are good questions and help give purpose to our struggle.  But there is also a time to let our questions go, to place our faith in God and trust Him with the details of our life.

God is able to bring beauty out of the ashes and take the scars that are dark and shape them into something beautiful. Nothing is too hard for God and no problem is too big or small for Him to handle. All we have to do is to turn our lives over to Him and ask for His help. He is faithful to do His part but we have a part to play too. We get to decide if we will choose to submit our life to God and whether we will allow our experiences to mold us into a better or a bitter person. We are responsible for the choices we make and we will be shaped by them.

A wise Pastor once shared with me that we are not a product of our circumstance, rather we are a product of HOW we choose to respond to it. We get to choose our response to the hard things in life. The day I wrote that simple, short prayer, I drew a line in the sand. I chose to put my trust in God and was willing to accept and surrender to His plan for my life, regardless of the outcome. With His help I determined to choose to learn from the difficulties of life. I know we can’t always control what comes into our life, but we can choose our responses and with God’s help, become a better not bitter person. Life is full of choices and we win or lose by the way we choose.

Questions to Ponder:

What or who in life has been unkind to me? How have I responded? Have I asked for God’s help and healing in this area? Why or why not? What are the scars that could become beauty marks with God’s help? What might God be trying to say to me in the hard places of life? Would people describe me as a bitter person? What are some things I might choose to learn from the trials I have faced or am facing now and become a better person as a result?

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