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Bitter-Root Judgement and Expectancy

[My thoughts are scattered and I'm having trouble concentrating. I started writing this a week ago and I realize now it may make no sense. I'm posting it anyway.]
See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. Hebrews 12:15 NIV

I’ve been slowly making my way through the book The Transformation of the Inner Man by John and Paula Sandford. The chapter called “Bitter-Root Judgment and Expectancy” really spoke to me.

What is a bitter-root judgement? As a child (could be as an adult too), when we experienced or observed something we didn’t like, we often made judgements about the person we connected to that event and then developed an expectancy that others would behave in the same disappointing way. Because of our expectancy, those we become close to will actually unconsciously conform to that expectancy. This sets us up for a lot of painful relationships and interactions. Those judgements and expectancies continue to operate in our lives until we become aware of them and bring them to the cross.
“Just as a tiny mustard seed grows to produce a large tree, so a seed of judgment sown increases the longer it remains unrecognized and unrepented of.”*
As I reread the parts of the chapter I underlined (I make a real mess with my books, underlining and writing notes), I realized that I have lived a life of judgement. I must have a lot of bitter roots, whether I’m aware of their origins or not. I liked this statement:
“God gives us a beloved enemy to force us spiritually lazy people to face what is undealt with in our flesh, else we would go through life ever congratulating ourselves that we are okay without Him.

“Unfortunately what happens in many marriages is that when couples begin to grow close enough to one another that the grinding and polishing process is going on in earnest, they withdraw from the pain [and] erect defensive walls to hide their vulnerability....”

That quote describes me in many ways. I think I have congratulated myself many times that I had things pretty much altogether. Ha! Was I fooled! As for defensive walls, I’m beginning to realize that not only am I the one who built them, but I’ve completely surrounded myself with them. That’s a huge lack of trust in God and the self-protective walls keep me from the very closeness I long to have.
“There is only one answer for any marriage.... That is to exchange that dividing wall of hostility for the cross of Christ. It is to stop all demands that the other change. It is to die daily to self, to continually ask the Lord, ‘What in me is contributing...? What is there in me that needs to die?’”

Transforming my life “means choosing to be vulnerable and trusting the Lord to defend and protect.”

Can I do this, Lord? Am I willing to hand myself over to those I love in complete vulnerability and trust you to protect me? How much do I trust you? I’ve been depending on myself to protect me instead of you. How do I change this? Please help me!

*All non-Scripture quotes are from The Transformation of the Inner Man by John and Paula Sandford. Victory House (Tulsa, OK): 1982. pages 237 to 248.


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About the Author


I'm married (35 years in December 2008) with four grown sons. I love my city (Winnipeg) and my country (Canada) and promote them both to whoever will listen. God (through Jesus Christ) is the biggest part of my life. I am learning to let him take control of all areas--though I do better at this some times more than others.

I have written a book that's recently been published about part of my journey with God. In it I tell how God confronted me with the same-sex attraction issues I've struggled with all my adult life and how he led me through them to a deeper and more meaningful relationship with him. God is amazing—his forgiveness, his love, his movement in our lives when we allow him and so much more. I suspect God will never run out of things to teach me or ways to make me grow and that’s a good thing (though often very painful).

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Reviews of Searching for Love

If you have read the book, I would love to hear your thoughts on it. You may e-mail me at or post them in the comments section below.

A Real Testimony
I finished your book. A real testimony to what God does for us.
Leona March 3, 2009
I Had Tears Coming

I sat down to read it about a week later and ended up finishing it the same night. At first I admit I was a little bored and thought that the whole book was about a battle all in your mind, but as I continued reading this creeping thought came over me of a different...struggle in my own life, that I would never in my right mind have shared with anyone accept maybe God. I've mentioned your book to a few people because it stirs up age-old controversies that I have myself argued and wondered about, namely about whether or not homosexuality can be cured or just managed like alcoholism--you just have to stay away from temptation. I noticed at the end of your book that your struggle story …