One day on my way to the grocery store, I saw a banner that had been unrolled and attached to a bluff for all shoppers and drivers to read. It said, "Shame on the city for raising taxes on the water." The next week there was another bitter banner with a similar comment. A few weeks later there were 3 banners attached to the bluff with hateful statements towards the city. On that day, I saw what looked like a troll scrambling around on the bluff affixing the banners. His body was bent and his face was snarled and twisted right up to the point of his nose. The poison of resentment had affected his whole body.
I know what it feels like to be self-inflicting this same poison.
For a long time I felt like I had a black tar-ball in my chest right where my heart was supposed to be located. I couldn't put a name to it. It felt warm at times and like an empty black hole at other times. I could feel it growing like mold under the basement carpet. I didn't know what it was until an angry family member told me that I was "full of resentment". As much as it hurt to hear this, on that day I learned the name of my tar-ball.
We've all heard the saying "Living with resentment is like taking poison and expecting the other guy to get sick." For me, resentment is like a purple poisonous pus that is created in my brain and it pulses through my veins infecting my heart, slowly deadening it against giving and receiving love and feeling happiness. I replay a hurtful event in my head and attach pain to it. Then I replay the new more painful memory of the old hurtful event and I attach even more pain to it and on and on it spins. It continues to grow like green cotton candy in a cotton candy making machine.
I think naming the resentment is one of the first steps to healing from it and realizing that it mostly does damage to me motivates me to let go of it too.
In the AA big book it has a cure for resentment:
"If you have a resentment you want to be free of, if you will pray for the person or the thing that you resent, you will be free If you will ask in prayer for everything you want for yourself to be given to them, you will be free. Ask for their health, their prosperity, their happiness, and you will be free. Even when you don't really want it for them, and your prayers are only words and you don't mean it, go ahead and do it anyway. Do it every day for two weeks and you will find you have come to mean it and to want it for them, and you will realize that where you used to feel bitterness and resentment and hatred, you now feel compassionate understanding and love."
I have a 17 year old daughter who is smart, beautiful and talented but about 3 1/2 years ago she closed down. She now works very hard to show the world that she doesn't care about anything. For a year she wanted dreadlocks, she doesn't bathe often enough, or do homework and she spends a lot of money to buy clothes that look like they were run over with the lawn mower.
One day I decided that I was going to accept her for who she was and accept that she was doing the best that she could. I wasn't going to allow that purple poisonous puss to deaden my heart towards her. I believe that resentment can't be hidden; it can be felt on a molecular level and when the person who is being resented feels the resentment, it feels like hate. Which is no surprise because hatred is the foundation of resentment.
On the day that I decided to stop feeling resentment towards my daughter, I was tested. First thing that happened was that I got a phone call from the school that said that she was absent during 3rd period. 2nd thing that happened was that she didn't ride the bus home after school. She was supposed to come straight home because her grades were bad. At that point I started feeling resentment seeping in so I went to my bedroom and prayed and journaled...to work through it.
Then she texted and said that she was at a friend's home. I told her that she couldn't stay because of her grades and that she needed to walk home because she missed her ride opportunity.---I was accepting her but I wasn't willing to rescue her.
She came home and listened to rap music and watched some videos on YouTube that I didn't like.
I continued to accept and feel love toward her.
4 hours later, 5 miracles happened.
1) I came upstairs with a load of laundry in my arms and she smiled at me. I hadn't seen that smile for a long time.
2) The rap music evolved into Disney music.
3) She asked if we could go on a family trip over spring break.
4) She grabbed bath supplies and took an hour long bath.
5) and at prayer-time she skipped her memorized prayer and asked God to watch over her missionary brother and to help us all to be happy.
We can't change anyone but when we change ourselves, miracles happen. I wish I could say that I have not had any resentment in my heart since that day--I have to work at it.
I don't need the people around me to be perfect for me to be happy. I can be perfectly happy with imperfect neighbors, friends and family. I know that when they feel accepted AS IS and loved by me, they usually accept and love me back--It is easier to grow in the warm bright sunshine then in the cold dark night. Even God sends down sunshine on us all--sinners and saints alike.
"Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust." --Matt. 5:44,45