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  • Writer's pictureLinsey Wildey

Soul Tending Resentment

Updated: Jul 5, 2023

Over the years resentment has been an invisible friend of mine. I thought it was something that gave me

power, but I have come to realize that it only hardens my heart. I bumped into it a lot when I was a mom with young children as I worked outside the home in a beloved but demanding job. And today I still bump into it.... especially when I overextend myself and say yes to things that are not mine to do. Perhaps you can relate? If so, read along . . .


WHAT IS RESENTMENT?

Resentment is an emotion that is often submerged in our consciousness. Seeds of resentment grow in the soil of injustice, or when we feel unseen, unheard, overpowered or not considered. Some writers call resentment “re-sediment” — where one inwardly replays their negative thoughts and feelings about another. Others say resentment is a demand for the past to be different. And you’ve likely heard the quote, “Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”


RESENTMENT IN SCRIPTURE

A great example of resentment in the Bible is found in Luke 15:11-32. It is the story of a father and two sons. The older son is the responsible, conscientious one who always did what the father asked him to do. The younger son was manipulative and persuaded his father to give him his inheritance and then squandered it all through wild living. So when the younger son came home and the father celebrated his return, the older brother’s response to this was, in so many words, “This isn’t fair! What about me? I was the obedient one, the good boy, how is it that my brother gets all the fanfare, and I get nothing?” Perhaps you can relate to the older brother’s reaction.


RESENTMENT GIVES US CLUES

I use to feel guilty for feeling resentful. However, in a conversation with my spiritual director, she reframed things for me. She encouraged me to look at resentment as a flag that alerts me to something I am needing, desiring or feeling hurt about. Yes, resentment is anger that has gone underground, but as we look at it more closely, it can actually be a portal that leads to greater self-knowledge, freedom and forgiveness.


Reflection Questions

  • What situation(s) bring up resentment for you?

  • What are you needing in the situation(s)?

  • Is this something that can be expressed?

  • Have you been hurt in this situation?

  • Is this something that can be expressed?

  • Is there anything for you to own in the situation?

  • Is there resentment, bitterness, or unforgiveness that God is inviting you to let go of?


FROM RESENTMENT TO GRATITUDE

As we are able to tend to our needs, desires and hurts, space can emerge for gratitude. As Henri Nouwen

wrote, “Resentment blocks action; gratitude lets us move forward toward new possibilities. Resentment makes us cling to negative feelings; gratitude allows us to let go.”


Gratitude opens our hands to receive all of life as a gift.

In light of this, what are some of the things you are grateful for today?

  • How have you received love this week?

  • What are you grateful for that you have?

  • Who is someone you are grateful for?

  • What do you enjoy about this season?

  • What are you enjoying about those who are around you?

As we become more acquainted with our hearts, we are able to notice when our hearts are stuck in ways

that keep us captive. When this happens, a movement of grace is offered to us that can help shift our hearts from captivity to a place of greater freedom and love. After spending some time acknowledging resentments and naming some things that you are grateful for, has anything shifted in your heart?


A BLESSING FOR YOU

Dear one, as you are able to take a compassionate glance towards your needs, desires, and hurts, may ou encounter a spaciousness of heart, an ability to breathe more deeply, and the grace of gratitude. Amen.


Article was written for and published in The MOPS Magazine, Spring 2023, www.mops.org

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