We’ve all experienced it. We wake up with a recurring memory, and it nags us throughout the morning. Finally we sit down with a hot cup of resentment and maybe a dash of self-pity, and we cogitate.
For some this leads to a downward spiral of “poor me; poor me; why don’t you go ahead and pour me another drink.” For such unfortunate souls, harboring and nursing resentment is deadly because it leads to a downward spiral of addictive patterns and behaviors. For all, resentment is the bile of the soul.
I am convinced resentment is a daily battle ground and an integral part of our growth into maturity. To live in resentment is to shut ourselves off from the sunlight of the Spirit. There are many petulant children in the bodies of old people, because they are still harboring resentments. I am also quite sure that the way NOT to deal with resentment is to ignore it thinking it will go away. Or to “forgive and forget” – which is a pseudo (false) form of forgiveness. No, we must face it and depend upon God to help us find a way out of it.
Here is yet another tool called a Resentment Inventory. Like the previous Fear Inventory, it is only as effective as much as you practice it often. Here we list our resentments on the left hand columns, whether it is towards a person, institution, idea, or principle. Again – honesty is the key here. No one is reading this but yourself, and there’s no shame in that. But as we get to the middle we face the same “wild elephant” as we did in the previous fear inventory… self.
Now before you get all up in arms and say this is just a smokescreen designed to distract us away from the injustice of the other, consider: how long have you mulled that injustice? How long have you been enslaved to that other? Has it helped gain you justice? If so, then good. Justice is a good thing and to live in constant injustice is an intolerable state. We are not prescribing being doormats.
But if you find that no justice is to be had, then there is no resort but to look at ourselves. For in the end this will turn us back unto our God. It is in looking at ourselves that we begin to recognize our own character flaws and defects – let alone that of the other. As we begin to see our side of the road, God opens up the sunlight of the Spirit. There is no work in the other. Let it alone. But there is plenty in us: I was wrong in perhaps facilitating the conditions for such situations to arise. I was wrong in my self-motivated behaviors. I was wrong in even holding onto the resentment itself.
In the end, recognizing our own character brings us before God, and he releases us from the pain caused by the other. I am not denying that you have been wronged. I am just saying that the path to release is not through them, but through God. And no one can confront God without an honest confrontation of them self. To dissemble by pointing the finger at others “but they did this / that” is to delay the process. “She made me do it” – sound familiar? It’s been going on all the way back to the Garden.
Let’s reverse the Fall by letting the cleansing sunlight of the Spirit in, showing us our true selves, so we may finally stand before God – and others – in true communion.
– to learn more, listen to this talk on resentment