Trapped in a Prison without Bars

About 15 years ago, I gave up a high-paying job and moved to a new career in social work.  Feeling called, I passionately charged ahead and believed that hard work, and God’s favor would propel me to my destiny. However, three months into my new job, the company reorganized, and I ended up as a case manager, which requires a different set of skills than the job for which I was hired.   

I tried to make the best of my situation, but each day left me exhausted. I was joyless and wondered if I was wrong. Did God call me to this field? Anger smoldered in my heart. Someone must have known about this upcoming reorganization.  I questioned God and wondered why He let this happen to me.

A creeping fear that I missed my destiny grew inside me, and the fear sowed seeds of unforgiveness. Soon, bitterness and anger started leaking out at work.  I knew I had to fight it, but no matter what I tried, the bitterness returned. I struggled and asked friends to pray with me, and for me. I asked God to help me forgive.  Nothing changed.  I was imprisoned by my own bitterness and anger. 

My answer came with this image.  I saw Jesus on the cross when he said, “Father, forgive these people because they don’t know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34 NLT).  Here was my answer. He was my answer. To release my bitterness, I needed to ask God to forgive the people I felt harmed me. 

I was in a spiritual battle.  I didn’t want to forgive.  My first attempt at prayer was softly mumbled, but as I continued a huge weight lifted. By asking God to forgive, I found joy. Although my situation did not change, my bitterness was replaced by joy and a deeper reliance on God.

If you are trapped in your own, self-made prison, remember God is with you in messy and difficult times.

  • Sometimes God’s answer to prayer is to change us, not our circumstances.
  • Bitterness is a powerful emotion, and it is easy to get stuck in a place of bitterness.
  • Bitterness robs us of joy.
  • Forgiveness releases bitterness and helps us rediscover joy.


Real People, Real Stories, Real God®
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Trapped in a Prison without Bars