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Dealing with resentment

Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark. -- Matthew chapter 6, verse 15 in the Christian Bible says, "But if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." In that verse, and in several other passages of scripture, there is a very strong emphasis on the idea of forgiveness. I think it is very important for all of us to be reminded that we all tend to want forgiveness from others immediately and abundantly! Yet, so often we don't have that same attitude when it comes to forgiving others. We are quick to forgive ourselves and slow to forgive others. We need to be quick to offer that same forgiveness that we want others to give us.

However, what about offering forgiveness to those who are not sorry? I get asked this question from time to time and it is a great question! I think it is easy to see (even if it is hard to do) that we should all be more forgiving of those who earnestly seek forgiveness and are sorry for what they did. But, are we supposed to forgive those who are not sorry? Ultimately, forgiveness is based on the idea that someone has asked for it and/or wants it. But, it is not dependent on it. Unfortunately, our desire to hold onto anger and resentment hurts us worse than the person who caused the anger in the first place.

A chaplain friend of mine, Rob Dunbar, said this about holding onto resentment: "Resentment is a prison. When you've put someone in your jail cell of hatred, you are stuck guarding the door. If you're out to settle a score, you are never going to rest. How can you? Your enemy may never pay up. As much as you think you deserve an apology, your debtor may not agree. The racist may never repent. The chauvinist may never change. As justified as you are in your quest for vengeance, you may never get a penny's worth of justice. And if you do, will it be enough? You see, resentment is a prison."

Are you holding onto something that is wearing you down? Let it go! (I'm not talking about building snowmen...) Sometimes people go for years and years, or even their whole lives never forgiving and they are the ones who suffer the most! It is liberating to forgive - relationships can be restored, burdens can be lifted, and hearts can be freed all in the act of forgiveness. My daughter, Rebecca, has a mantra, "Am I loving enough?" Maybe a little more loving and a little less resentment is just what the doctor has ordered for you. Will you fill the prescription?