“Write down five words to describe yourself.” Me? I got this:
Wife. Mother. Crafty. Baker. Friend.
Obviously I’ve done this before.
My bible study leader wanted to get to know me, but as I stared at the words on the All-About-Amy worksheet, I struggled to come up with the glossy adjectives I so easily used to describe myself. What I wanted to write was:
Angry. Impatient. Tired. Hurt. Done.
A few days later, I vented to my mother about how I’d been wronged-again-by-the-same-person. She continued to listen (for the eighty-seventh time) on how I was so sick of the same issues, from the same people, on just a different day. (Come to think of it, I’m sure she was sick of it all, too!) Then, on her way out, she said, “You know, you should look up the word resentment.”
Excuse me. I am a pushing-forty, Christian-forever, English teacher! And my mother is telling me to look a word up in the dictionary? AS IF! Any Clueless fans out there? (I told you I was pushing forty.) Well, that’s exactly what I was. Clueless. I knew I was angry. I knew I was hurt. But resentful? Must we put a label on everything? Geesh.
I knew I was angry. I knew I was hurt. But resentful?
So as the obedient daughter that I am, (and (ahem) have always been, right mom?) I looked it up. Resentment: “the feeling of displeasure or indignation at some act, remark, person, etc., regarded as causing injury or insult.” That’s right, dictionary.com! I am injured and insulted! My search continued. Vocabulary.com defines it as “the strong and painful bitterness you feel when someone does something wrong to you, doesn’t have actual physical weight, but it feels very heavy and can last a long time. Forgiveness is one way to get rid of resentment.” Oh boy. I must also mention that resentment is a noun. Enter English teacher here: a noun is a person, place, thing, or idea. Therefore, resentment is an idea, an abstract noun. But in my case, resentment was clearly a thing.
I realized that I had been carrying the weight of this “thing” for years, and it was getting heavier and heavier. My conversations often turned to resentful, bitter talk on how I had been badly hurt, wronged, and inconvenienced. My thoughts were jumbled with sarcastic, mean words lashing out at my personal perpetrators. 1Peter 4 says that if I am insulted because of Christ, I am blessed. Well, I was not being insulted because of Christ. I was being insulted because of Amy. Because of what I thought were my rights to happiness and the simplicity of healthy relationships, my rights had been violated. Christ was not in this equation. I needed help.
In I Peter, chapter 5, it says to “Cast all your anxiety on him, because He cares for you.” So, this was a good place to start. I sat down and threw all of my angry feelings and hurt heart on Jesus. I just let Him have it. And guess what? He took it. But I wasn’t changed in those prayerful moments of surrender. The wall was still standing. My resentment bricks were still weighing me down. The anger? Still evident.
I sat down and threw all of my angry feelings and hurt heart on Jesus. I just let Him have it. And guess what? He took it.
How could I get rid of these “bricks”? I would need to unload them one-by-one. What I had built up day-by-day would be a process in tearing down. And so I began to confess to the beloved people I had clearly fake-smiled at and stiff-shouldered in my past. I sat in the car with my husband and tearfully told him how hurt and angry I was. Thirteen years of marriage and there were some bricks with his name on them, each offense documented against a man who was clearly trying to love me when I was surely hard to love. I confessed. I told him that I was working hard to tear down this wall. He listened and he loved.
Next step? Forgive. Colossians 3:13 says to “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” You may have a grievance where the “perpetrator” doesn’t so lovingly listen as my husband did. So, sweet follower of Jesus, just forgive. We don’t deserve the forgiveness and grace we have from our Savior, and your offender probably doesn’t deserve your forgiveness either. But, can I encourage you to just give it anyway?
We don’t deserve the forgiveness and grace we have from our Savior, and your offender probably doesn’t deserve your forgiveness either. But, can I encourage you to just give it anyway?
Pray. Confess. And unload those bricks. You will feel so much lighter. As you continue to break down your wall, God will continue to shape and mold your heart into what He desires. And then you can choose these five words to describe yourself: Gentle. Patient. Forgiven. Forgiver. Free.
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Image Credit: MGStanton, Creative Commons