Strength For Today

A journey of keeping my heart, mind, and body in TODAY

Harboring Resentment

on May 21, 2014

For the recovering alcoholic, harboring a resentment (or holding a grudge) is no laughing matter.  In fact, a book that happens to be very pertinent to my recovery states this: “Resentment is the number one offender.  It destroys more alcoholics than anything else.”  Those are some very powerful words to a person in recovery, like myself.  I take my recovery very seriously.  Without it, I have nothing.  And without God, I have no recovery.  So, the number one thing in my life must be my relationship with God, and following close after that, must be my recovery. And in the realm of both God’s way of life and my recovery; harboring resentments is a choice that I no longer have.

So what about the person who isn’t a recovering alcoholic?

Is this business of building and hanging on to resentments still an issue?  Well, let’s think about that for a moment.  First, I think we must look at what resentment is.

According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary: A resentment is a feeling of indignant displeasure or persistent ill will at something regarded as a wrong, insult, or injury.

The thing that grabs my attention in this definition is the word persistent.  We all, if we are human and exist in relationship with others, have difficulty on some level with people.  In general, it is safe to say that we will have, at the very least, a personality conflict with at least one person in our lives.  We will be wronged on some level at some point in our lives.  We will experience justifiable anger, righteous anger, and bitterness toward another human being at some point.  Anger is normal.  In fact, it is a healthy response when you are put in a situation where you or someone you love has been hurt by another.  There is nothing wrong in anger itself.  Even God gets angry.  Anger is NOT a sin.

Resentment, however, takes anger to another level.  To build a resentment is to re-live the feeling of anger that a situation or person has created in your life, over and over again.  In fact,when literally looked at, the word resentment means to “re-feel”.  So, building a resentment against someone or something is a thing that happens over time,  is deeply rooted and usually difficult to get rid of.  The reason that building a resentment is so detrimental to recovery and peaceful living in general,  is that eventually it creates a hardened heart. Bitterness takes root, unforgiveness clouds rational thinking, and hatred begins to bloom.  Jesus has quite a bit to say on this subject, but one such teaching stands out in my mind:

1 John 3:15  Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.

If you have never heard this before, you might be as surprised as I was to realize the depth of the problems that harboring resentments can create within the heart and soul of a person.

For the alcoholic in recovery, a resentment that is left unresolved spells out D-A-N-G-E-R.  Resentments are the number one reason that alcoholics drink – we drink AT people, places, and circumstances.  Resentments are also the number one reason that recovering alcoholics relapse – we drink AT people, places, and circumstances.  So, for me – I must get rid of a resentment the minute I feel it brewing.  And, can I be honest with you?  I have some pretty big ones brewing lately.

So, how do I get rid of a resentment?

Well, this is what the program of recovery has taught me.  First, I must look at the resentment and ask myself why I feel the way I do.  Next, I must look at what areas of my life are affected by this situation or person, thus causing me to begin harboring a resentment in the first place.  Last, but probably most important – I must look at my part in the situation. (And believe it or not, I have found that I usually always have some part in the situation, no matter how small)  Once I have figured out my part in the situation, I need to deal with the issue.  I must take ownership for my part, and my part only.  I must make an attempt to rectify the situation to the best of my ability.  The person or situation may not change as a result of my owning up to my part, and I must prepare myself to accept that.  However, many times, the person or situation does change after I have made amends for my part.  Many times I have discovered that the person I am so busy being resentful at is not really the “big mean monster” I perceived them as.  Truth is, I never really know how it going to go.  But, I still need to do my part.  It is imperative to my recovery.  This series of steps to rid yourself of a resentment would work for anyone, not just people in recovery.  Imagine if we could all choose to try living our life without carrying the burden of resentment around with us???



**If you are following this blog, you might hear a lot from me about the process of making amends, offering and accepting forgiveness, and letting go of past hurts and wounds inflicted by people in my life.  This space, where I come to write, has become a very sacred space for me – a place where I can empty my heart and mind of the things that are cluttering it up.  I am so grateful for the gift of the written word.  I would be a jumbled up mess inside my mind if it wasn’t for my outlet of writing it all down.  If I can help another soul somewhere along the way as well, that is a bonus to what has already become something beautiful!



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