Confused. Bewildered. Angry. Disappointed. Humiliated. Hurt.
That’s how it feels.
One minute everything is going smoothly. You know someone for a while. Maybe you work with this person, perhaps you’re involved in an organization together, or . . . you might be friends. Out of the blue, without warning, it all stops. Communication becomes distant, conversation difficult. Worse yet, the rug gets pulled out from underneath you in the form of betrayal.
You’ve been wronged. Taken advantage of. Disrespected or perhaps offended. There’s no explanation, no reasoning, and despite your best efforts, no indication of any resolution. Abandoned in a muddled mix of frustration and confusion, over time, your hurt grows into a wound. A deep wound.
Naturally, you’re furious and wish to tell everyone how badly you’ve been hurt. You want to get even and dish out what’s been dished to you. Your defensiveness becomes a mental retaliation against the person who wronged you.
It’s easy to use anger to mask the pain of our hurt, isn’t it?
Most upsetting is the inability to understand why. What brought this about? What went wrong? Why did this happen? Time passes with no reconciliation until all contact ceases. Feelings of frustration, hostility and disappointment continue to grow until you become a ripe rubble of resentment.
Sigh. Can you relate?
The magazine, Psychology Today states the root of bitterness can be defined as “a chronic pervasive state of smoldering resentment.” [i]
I’ve done my fair share of smoldering.
Amid searching the Scriptures and spending time in prayer for almighty wisdom (in-between bouts of smoldering,) two recurring messages whispered to my spirit as if spoken by God:
- Everything is not always about you.
- You don’t need to tell your side of the story—I saw it.
The Bible says this in Hebrews 12:15:
See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springs up and causes trouble, and by it may become defiled.
Harboring resentment when we’re wronged, mistreated, or disrespected, causes the root of that bitterness to grow, which eventually takes over our lives.
Bitter roots bear rotten fruit.
A bitter person becomes a miserable person, and often, the one to whom the bitterness is directed is seldom affected—at all. The only person who is truly afflicted by resentment is the one who is engulfed by it. Focusing the blame on the other person’s flaws causes us to neglect any of our own.
Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die. – Saint Augustine
Life is not all root beer and M&M’s. But, we become emotionally injured individuals, imprisoning ourselves, if we live a life of resentment. For a wound to heal we need to stop touching it. When we don’t let go and forgive, we may as well wrap barbed wire around our hearts.
Unforgiveness keeps us displaced, forgiveness cultivates grace.
Some helpful steps to consider:
- Acknowledge what you feel. Feel the emotions, and, if possible, speak up respectfully to let the other person know how you are affected (with no expectations.)
- Analyze the situation objectively. Rather than remaining wrapped in a security blanket of negative thoughts, try to understand the person who harmed you. Give thought to their possible perspectives.
- Take action. Forgive and let go. Stay true to your deeper values and when you begin to obsess on negative thoughts, redirect your mind to positive focus.
Forgiveness is a decision. It’s a choice. And it’s only in forgiving that you and I can live a life of happiness, contentment and peace. Take heart in knowing Jesus already paid in full for every wound you’ve ever endured or will suffer.
Join me today in handing over your rubble of resentment to Jesus and asking Him to help you release it, fully.
Father God, help me let go of the bonds of resentment in my heart that fuel desires for revenge. Replace my harmful emotions with kindness so no bitter root may grow in me and keep others from seeing you in my life. Thank you for binding up my wounds. Help me choose to forgive those who have wronged me because you have forgiven me. In Jesus’ name, amen.