Sunday, February 26, 2006

The first time I taught college after law school, I was a temp for some business law classes. As with all temps in that program, they gave the students standardized tests after my stint to see how much ground the students had lost due to having a substitute.

In what was a first, my students gained ground in knowledge and comprehension over the regular professor, which delighted the reviewer when he explained it all to me. But, the next time I encountered the reviewer, when he was visiting my church congregation, he was virulently hostile towards me. I was in shock at the venom and then discovered that I had been deleted from the list of temps. My response was to just continue to be respectful and polite, which I think surprised him. I've remembered to act that way every time I encounter a similar situation.

Later I learned that he was afraid for his job and for the jobs of his friends, since they did not have J.D.s. Driven by fear he had torpedoed me before the school found out that instructors with J.D.s taught law better than non J.D.s (not at all a certain proposition btw). His wrong drove his anger. Making the choice to put that rather surprisingly savage attack behind me kept me from wasting time. Had I been angry or embittered by the wrong, I would have made a choice to hold to resentment that would only have wasted time I did no have.

In truth, we never have time to waste on resentment.

As for him, his resentment of me hurt him and was his problem, not mine, because I let it go. For me, it was a learning experience. By understanding the reason he had acted as he had, I was taught me to look twice at any time I feel anger or resentment towards someone. I now look inward to see what I may have done wrong to cause myheart to feel hostility towards others and why I am having an emotional reaction to them.

I'm not always in the wrong (though resentment is always wrong), but there are seeds often enough that I'm glad I learned to look.

In response to some questions, I would note that there are only two times when resentment is hard to overcome. First, when we resent those who have wronged us without provocation and Second, when we resent those we have wronged or provoked.

In both cases, resentment blocks us from the Spirit and from the healing love of God, which we need more than any anger, hate or other emotion we may feel that binds us to our resentments.

It can be hard, but only by starting to let go of our resentments can we let the Spirit come in to educate, enlighten, guide and heal us. For mercy, grace and healing, part of healing is letting go of the resentment. While the Spirit brings peace, inspiration and healing, resentment can block the channels the Spirit flows through.

To overcome we need to overcome, so to speak, but it is the only way we have.


David B. said...

Excellent thoughts Stephen. I too have learned that carrying grudges, or resentment, is a burden that is hard to bear, and damaging to the bearer.

Much of what you are saying here, and in your previous post on forgiveness echos D&C 64:8-11.

The way I deal with resentment is in verse 11, which says: "And ye ought to say in your hearts -- let God judge between me and thee, and reward thee according to thy deeds."

In other words, turn it over to the Lord. Trust in him, and that he will deal justly with the situation. He is the judge, and He will repay.

Its a matter of faith, really. Do you have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ? Do you trust in Him, that he can take away your sin, extend his forgiveness, and heal your wounded soul? If you do, then take that faith to the next step. Trust that he will deal justly with those who may have offended you. Forgive them in your heart, and cast your burdens upon Him. Let Him do His job.

In the meantime, you no longer carry the burden of harboring resentments and grudges. Your soul is made whole, and the Lord knows in whom you have trusted. You can go on living life with a greater portion of the Spirit, and not be weighed down by carrying unnecessary burdens.

Anonymous said...

Your thoughts on the types of resentment harder to overcome (illustrating the latter in your experience with the reviewer) clarified something for me.

I'd wondered sometimes how it was possible that one could resent the target of one's invectives for reasons seemingly unrelated to the vituperation. I thought it was a case of the attacker's anger exploding on a 'safer' target.

The concept that such vitriol can stem from inward anger due to previous wrongings of the target person... it provides another option for me when 'external anger' doesn't make as much sense.

I don't know if what I'm writing here is getting mixed in the pipeline, I do know that at the source it's clear.
Thanks for pointing me to a new avenue to explore.

Stephen said...

Téa you are making good sense, at least to me.

annegb said...

Stephen, how does one put their picture next to their posts? I want to do that. I will put my 30 year old picture. :)

Hey I printed this off. Wonderful examination of resentment. We talk a lot about this subject in Al-anon.

We had an experience similar to yours, only backward. I got mad at a dentist who was treating Sarah and quit him summarily. I thought he was mean to her.

I was never going to speak to him or his staff again. However, they wouldn't let me be mad. They made a point to smile and say hello every time I ran into them.

It's hard to stay mad at somebody who is nice to you. He later became a university stake president and called my husband to be in a bishopric and he was the soul of kindliness and acceptance.

Boy, did that teach us a big lesson. That's what I do now when I fight with people, except people I still want to kill. I be nice to them, I don't let them continue in their mad. I am the one to take that first step to say "hi" and pretend (sometimes I'm acting big time) we are of course still friends. And they always give up their mad.

Well, almost always. But, Stephen, it's the way to go, for sure.

Awesomely wise post. Thank you for being you.

annegb said...

And David, you sound like you've been to a 12 step meeting. That's what we say, honest, turn it over.

Although I'm not very good at that.

Printing your post, also, but I'll take off your name and stuff. Not to worry.

Stephen said...

annegb -- the picture thing is part of your profile. click on your name here in the comments -- it will take you to your profile and you should be able to edit it there by adding a picture.

annegb said...

I clicked on my name and it wouldn't let me, I think you have to have a blog.