No grit should remain
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)
Whether we know it or not, we often 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. 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 experiencing it personally. Bitterness is a harsh emotion. I have a dark grey/black quartz kitchen sink and if I us an abrasive cleanser to clean it, I usually see something after having finished the cleaning - a residue. I don't wear gloves in the process, so I usually experience a little bit of an "after-taste" of the cleanser on my skin when I bring my hands to my face. Bitter things often leave an after-taste and a lot of residue in our lives. 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 just by being around the bitter person.
Laughter is often used to attempt to conceal either the mess which has been left behind or the sourness which remains. Even after the laughter ends, a heaviness frequently returns - unspoken, but real to the one experiencing its weight. Things that are hard for us to bear, or wear us down, are never meant for us to bear alone. They 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. Now, consider how we might deal with bitterness in another. Brush the surface of that 'offended' area and we know something is hidden deeper because we experience the "grit" of bitterness. If we "listen" with our hearts to the 'concealing' laughter of the one who is really dealing with the mess left behind in their life by tragedy or misguided steps, we might just hear the extreme hurt and haunting 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. We have become quite proficient at concealing our emotions - using one thing or action 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 up under the weight they are experiencing, we need to cut past the laughter and get at what has left the residue - what brings the offensive after-taste in the first place. When we considered my sink, scrubbed a little raw by the cleanser, we might just have believed what remained 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, the food rinsed in it, and neither is all that pleasant.
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" of those bitter feelings - we need the continual rinsing provided by the Word of God and the guidance of the Holy Spirit until the remaining residue and sour after-taste is finally gone! 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! If they experience a bit of the 'grit' of bitterness, they might just say something - we need to hear what they say. Just sayin!