Each heart knows its own bitterness. We pretty much bear our bitterness alone - although others may step in to attempt to help us bear it, it is primarily something we bear alone. We can experience great joy, but no one can fully experience it the same as we do. Each of these emotions are really something others attempt to share with us and we with them, but in essence, the joy or bitterness of another is something we can never truthfully fully comprehend and experience in the same manner as the one originally experiencing it.
Only the person involved can know his own bitterness or joy—no one else can really share it. Laughter cannot mask a heavy heart. When the laughter ends, the grief remains. Only a simpleton believes everything he’s told! A prudent man understands the need for proof. A wise man is cautious and avoids danger; a fool plunges ahead with great confidence. A short-tempered man is a fool. He hates the man who is patient. The simpleton is crowned with folly; the wise man is crowned with knowledge. (Proverbs 14:10, 13, 15-18 TLB)
Bitterness is a harsh emotion. If you have ever used an abrasive cleanser to clean your sink, you might just see something after you have finished the cleaning - a residue. If you did not wear gloves in the process, you might just experience a little bit of an "after-taste" of the cleanser on your skin. Bitter things often leave an after-taste and a lot of residue. The after-taste and the residue are really experienced by the one with the bitterness - although others may see the mess left and get a little flavor of the issue which led up to the mess they see.
Laughter is often used in such a manner so as to attempt to conceal either the mess which has been left behind or the sourness which remains. Oftentimes, even after the laughter ends, a heaviness remains - unspoken, but real to the one experiencing its weight. Truth is, things which are hard for us to bear or which wear us down are never meant for us to bear alone. They are also aren't meant for us to hide deep within and never express. Try as we might, we really can never conceal what leaves a residue or gives a sharp after-taste anyway!
The prudent carefully consider their steps unlike the fool who just believes everything he sees or is told. This is important in considering how some deal with their bitterness. When we only brush the surface, we know something is deeper as we experience the "grit" of bitterness. Yet, if all we do is "listen" to the laughter of the one who is really dealing with the mess left behind by life's tragedy or missteps, we might just hear the extreme hurt and plaguing emptiness bitterness has left in its path.
Laughter is an action or sound. In most circumstances we'd think it was linked to joy or excitement, but in some situations it may just be a masking of something wearing the individual down on the inside. We use it as a tool to hide the real emotions we are experiencing. In fact, we have become quite proficient at concealing our emotions - using one thing to mask another. The wise will see beyond the action of laughter or the sound of "cheer" it may resemble. What they will experience when the laughter fades away is the "after-taste" of bitterness.
If we really want to help another bear the weight they are under, we need to cut past the laughter and get at what has left the residue and what brings the offensive after-taste in the first place. When we consider our sink, scrubbed a little raw by the cleanser, we might just believe what remains is just a sign of the "cleanliness" of the sink. If we are truthful, the residue which remains isn't very attractive, nor is it pleasing to us because it rubs off on those who come into contact with it.
How do we deal with the cleanser's residue? Don't we rinse it time and time again until it has finally all found its way down the drain? Maybe we might just learn from this illustration as it applies to the residue of bitterness in our lives. We need a little more than the initial "cleansing" - we need the continual rinsing until the remaining residue and sour after-taste is finally gone! Truth is - we often don't see the residue because we believe the cleaning was all there was to the matter. A close friend may be the one who will actually point out the need for the "rinsing" of the residue! Just sayin!