For our own emotional well-being it is important to pay attention to our tendency to develop resentments as we live our lives. Resentments often develop in response to some sort of injustice, even if it is just perceived injustice. (A child developing resentments because a parent will not give the child his or her own way is perceived injustice.)
People really do horrific things to each other, sometimes in the name of God. And it is one thing when the wrong is owned up to and there can be some sort of restitution and perhaps reconciliation. It’s another thing when the injustice is blamed on the victim. Now if there is anything that seems like justified resentment, that is it!
Now, let’s make it clear – we can resent if we really want to. Something about it feels good, because the feelings we have seem to match our sense of how wronged we have been and we feel strong, not so vulnerable.
But there is a problem. Resentment eats away at our sense of well-being, deep down. We actually cannot live with resentment, but we can die, in two ways. We can get to the end of our lives still holding resentment, and we can get to the end of our sense of well-being by holding resentment. In other words, resentment is toxic!
So, what do we do? We know the world of people does not function as it was meant to. People /we are meant to treat each other as valued human beings and live in harmony on this planet, working together against what is destructive to the planet and each other and for what truly makes it a good, safe, productive place to live. It seems counter-intuitive to fully accept that evil and hate are part of what we live with, and are sometimes on the receiving end of in horrific ways, and that it is meant to be that we accept that in a deep way. If we fight that reality, we lose, but only every time (as Byron Katie would say).
My view is that God in Jesus becoming flesh and living among us was about God seeking to reveal that there is a force that is greater than evil, but rather than that force overcoming evil by force, it strips evil of its power through love. Loved enemies often become friends, Fought enemies become more powerful.
So it can work to let go of and not develop resentment if we fully accept that we do not deserve to be protected from evil and misfortune – that is not a right we have. We deserve to know that whatever evil has tried to destroy in us, through acknowledging our powerlessness to protect ourselves and surrendering to the God of love we can know the power of love to neutralize the power of evil. And that is freedom. Resentment simply can’t find a place to live in that.
So, if you want to let go of resentment, you have to give up expectations that things will go the way you would like them to in your world. It simply isn’t true that in order for us to be happy things need to go our way. The opposite is more true. In order for us to truly be happy we need to know that things will not go our way and that that is truly OK. Finding God/Love’s way in the center of what goes wrong is what brings life, and Love never says, “Oh no! Nothing redemptive or good can ever come from this.”