Overcoming Bitterness in Politics and Life

By Bunni Pounds Published on June 5, 2024

It took me a long time to deal with all the hurt and betrayals I experienced during my campaign for Congress back in 2018. I used to say, “You haven’t lived until you have had a million dollars spent against you and your family.” I had to work through the anger and keep going to Jesus in prayer. I knew I was finally free when anger stopped spewing out of my mouth every time I talked about the race.

Anger cannot reside in our hearts for long if we want to bring true change. One thing I have learned in politics is that an enemy I have today will most likely be an ally in another fight. So I must keep the door of my heart open and walk forward quickly. That lesson has helped me in many other aspects of life as well.

Ephesians 4:31 says, “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.” In practical terms, this is hard to do without the grace of God.

As we look at our national political climate, it is right to get angry at real injustices, but then it is all too easy to direct that anger at individuals and attack them with name-calling. It is not good to react in a spirit of anger, forgetting that they, even in a fallen state, were created in the image of God. We forget that God still has it in His heart to redeem both them and the situation around us.

Bitter Roots

Carrying burdens in our own strength — even righteous indignation — can cause anger to take over our souls. This is why getting into a quiet place with Jesus for solitude and reflection with Him when we are fighting against injustices is so important.

Anger can start as a small root of bitterness that then becomes a wellspring of pain and hurt. We get offended by words spoken, actions taken, votes cast, or by being overlooked or unacknowledged. This bitterness can start small but if not dealt with, can consume our hearts to the point that it colors everything we do.

About two months after losing a congressional primary runoff race, I discovered that my opponent had not paid for his. His consultant (who had hidden his involvement) had floated all the invoices for the TV, radio, and mail buys until after the race. His fundraiser had also floated most of her invoices, and did not even bill him till after the runoff. They were betting that he would win and then pay them later — guaranteeing a strong relationship on the back end. Unfortunately, this is how politics often works. “You scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours.”

I had outraised my opponent by $200,000. Here was the hard truth I was now having to swallow: I had paid for my runoff completely while his consultants floated him to victory. Unfortunately, this practice is legal, and these vendors, as well as my opponent, were absolutely within the rule of law — yet it still felt so unfair to me. The injustice of being someone who had done everything right but couldn’t win crushed me in that moment.

Time Doesn’t Heal

After the general election in November, I collapsed. I was spent from campaigning and from helping the rest of my clients in my political consulting firm. I still hadn’t slowed down enough to really deal with my heart.

We don’t have a choice about which injustices we experience. I wish we did. Life happens and we get hurt; we get sideswiped in the moments we least expect it. Vicious rumors about my family had been passed around East Texas via texts and secret Facebook groups while TV ads had portrayed me as a liar. People I thought were friends had turned against me. But my pain went deeper than that: My anger over the perceived injustice in the FEC report was keeping me in bondage.

I knew there was only one path to healing: I had to run to Jesus. There’s nothing like walking with imperfect people that will cause us to run even harder after a perfect God.

One Act of Obedience

The next August, I was in South Texas working for Congressman Michael Cloud when he told me about his trip to Israel with my former opponent, the new congressman. As he shared about the incredible experience and his appreciation for all his new colleagues, I said, “You know what? I need to throw a party for him and help pay off his debt from our runoff.” As soon as I said that tears began running down my face. Another layer of pain fell off my heart.

At dinner that night, I was speaking to Senator Ted Cruz’s father, Rafael Cruz, who was doing a fundraiser with us.

“Rafael, I looked up Lance’s campaign debt, and he still owes around $40,000 from our runoff,” I said. “What do you think about me throwing him a party to help pay off the rest of his debt?”

Without hesitation, this seasoned man of God said, “Sounds like Jesus to me, Bunni. You sow in this season to reap in your next season.”

About a month later, I finally got to have lunch with my former opponent. Afterward, he asked a normal question: “Well, before we leave, what can I do for you?”

Many of the congresspeople I have worked with ask this question to help tie up a conversation and finish a meeting. I just went for it.

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“Well, Congressman, I don’t need anything from you in the traditional sense,” I said, “but I would like to see if you would let me hold a fundraiser for your campaign and help you pay off the rest of your debt from our race.”

It took everything in me to not break down in that moment, as I knew the tears were starting to well up in my eyes.

Knowing I was struggling, I am sure, he said humbly, “Bunni, I would be honored if you would do that for me.”

When I got in my car, I broke down and wept.

So in December 2019, after calling all my previous supporters, we raised $35,000 and helped my opponent pay off his debt by the end of the year. Many of my former staff were there. My former boss was there, and most importantly, Jesus was there as we honored the winner and the good work he had been doing in Congress.

That act of obedience cut off the last chain of offenses, bitterness, and unforgiveness from my heart.

To Be Like Jesus

We cannot let offenses, bitterness, and unforgiveness take us out. We cannot let the trials, pains, and injustices of life steal our hope for the future. Pride, anger, and fear cannot sit in the driver’s seat of our heart. Our purpose and our future are too important to stay trapped in all the enemy’s devices.

Every person on this planet will be confronted at some point with disappointments or some other kind of suffering. We feel that even more when we are engaging in politics. The strength to endure and overcome comes from one posture alone: on our knees and in radical obedience to what the Lord tells us to do.

This is how we conquer these spiritual enemies in politics and in life. This is how we yield to the work of God in our lives.

The ultimate goal is not to be right, but to be like Jesus.

 

Excerpted from Jesus and Politics: One Woman’s Walk with God in a Mudslinging Profession (February 2024)

 

Bunni Pounds is president and founder of Christians Engaged, a ministry activating the Body of Christ to pray, vote, and engage regularly. Formerly a congressional candidate and 16-year political consultant, she is a motivational speaker and Bible teacher. Her book, Jesus and Politics: One Woman’s Walk with God in a Mudslinging Profession, was released in February. Order it now. She also is the host of “Conversations With Christians Engaged,” seen here on The Stream each week. Connect with her on Facebook @bunnipoundsTX, X @bunnipounds, or Instagram @bunnipounds.

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