Harboring resentment is like drinking poison

| May 20, 2016 | 0 Comments

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Capt. C. W. Olson III, Chaplain
1st Battalion, 14 Infantry Regiment
25th Infantry Division

 

You will never die from a snake bite.

Although it may hurt, the wound itself doesn’t kill you — it’s the venom making its way through your body that will eventually kill you.

In the same way the wounds that others inflict upon us, like fights and perceived wrongs, don’t end our relationships; it is the resentment and blame that courses through our bodies that eventually destroys relationships and leaves us feeling angry, hurt and alone.

Many of us move from assignment to assignment tethered to people who have wronged us because of resentment and blame. How many times have we had a conflict with someone at work, and then through resentment and blame, invite resentment home to sit with us at dinner and then lay next to us in bed? We arise in the morning and resentment brings that someone to our breakfast table and into the car on the way to work. The harboring of resentment has us chained in bitterness to someone that we can hardly stand to be around in person.

It has been said that holding resentment is like drinking poison and expecting your enemy to die. It is only poisoning our own mind, destroying our own joy and clouding our hearts. Letting go of all resentment and seeking forgiveness is the pathway to true freedom and peace.

When I conduct premarital counseling, one of the first questions I like to ask the couple is; “How long do you want to be married for?” Typically, the couple will look back at me, kind of confused, and say something along the lines of “Forever, chaplain!” Nobody has ever said, “Well, we’d like to happily enjoy the first few months of marriage, begin to fight, hold grudges, fill our hearts with resentment, then begin to hate each other and blame the other for our unhappiness.”

But this happens over and over again. Given enough time, couples experience wounds in a marriage. They hold onto resentment that creates bitterness and eventually fractures the relationship, causing an amazing amount of pain and suffering. This does not happen overnight. But every night that goes by without forgiveness builds towards this end. Seek forgiveness and reconciliation, today, and begin to experience peace tomorrow.

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Have you ever gone to dinner or had lunch with someone who was bitter? The taint of bitterness and resentment can ruin the best meal and most serene atmosphere. There is a sense of power in resentment, a regaining of control. However, this power is actually destroying us from the inside out. It ultimately drains our energy, consumes our emotions, and steals our joy.

There is a better way.

Choose, daily, to not blame others, to hold no resentment, and to seek forgiveness and reconciliation. This may seem impossible, but so is running a marathon if you’ve never trained for it. Take small steps towards peace, today, by first identifying any resentment or blame you have in your heart.

Next, choose to forgive, let go and not hold it against the other person. You may say, “Chaplain, you have no idea what this person did to me.” You’re right, I may not know what the other person did to wound you, but I do know about the damage holding on to resentment continues to do to you.

Find peace and joy today by embracing forgiveness and letting go of blame.

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Category: Footsteps in Faith, News, Standing Columns

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