On Resentments and Grudges
Unfortunately (for me), I am well-acquainted with this topic: partly because I am human, and partly because I have chosen paths as an adult which often alienate me from being part of the larger, more popular paths. I have chosen those paths carefully, after long examination and not on impulse, with knowledge that my choices would not make me popular nor always welcome in the best circles. I chose my paths with two things in view: sound-minded living and eternity.
C. S. Lewis writes on resentment: “[resentment] is only pleasurable as a relief from humiliation [or, I would add, embarrassment]—or an alternative to humiliation [or embarrassment]. It is an itch “that requests to be scratched.” But it is a momentary and deceptive relief. “But it is only a pleasure-not by itself-but only by comparison to its context.” [That of impending humiliation/embarrassment.] And so, Lewis calls it a “horrible pleasure.”
Resentments and grudges are of many forms, and they arise on many sides and from sources (some are surprising). Grudges are not typically based entirely on sense, or logic, for they stem from emotions, however, they utilize reason and factual information to create the “personal reality” called opinion. Typically that which was originally sourced in feelings of dislike, hate, jealousy or anger undergoes a hardening process. Attitudes such as dislike, hate, jealousy, bitterness or anger slowly or rapidly harden into a grudge.
It's important to make the grudge respectable—in the right circles, exposing our grudges as such is unpalatable. We don't really think about it but it a reactive, unintentional pattern. By our thought-life we organize our resentments/ grudges so it takes on the shape of an opinion. The organizational process which produced it is one of sorting and selecting facts that will support such an opinion. Not only is an opinion respectable, but it is unchallengeable. Our carefully selected supporting facts which bolster our grudge/opinion, serve as a kind of cape, for they shroud the true nature of what lies beneath.
Indeed, we must be careful not to expose our carefully nursed grudges to the clear light of day. To do this we must be circumspect, cynical or both. We need to make our lives such that we can live blissfully, grudges intact, with people who share the same grudges. For to preserve resentments and grudges best, they are best left unexamined. As life goes, it is not normally possible to live this way, so we have a our offensive position: to be cynical with people who hold opposing opinions. Ridicule drowns out the strongest reason.
Only the all-powerful, limitless, and loving Christ offers us freedom from resentment and grudges of all kinds, justified and unjustified. Of course, the problem lies with us, not with Christ. We prefer the coddling comfort of old grudges, which like old shoes, are most comfortable since they are perfectly molded to our cockeyed way of walking and stance. It is only when the dissonance gets too great between our desire to be loving and kind and the inner reality of our own thoughts/attitudes that pulls us up short. It is at the moment of recognition that we find ourselves simultaneously at a crossroads, or rather, where the roads split; we cannot travel both roads at the same time. We cannot be a Christ-follower and Christ-lover and simultaneously (and with full knowledge) harbor the weeds of grudges and resentments. The Spirit of Christ burns up chaff such as these. He does not force us down His road, but He beckons us and leads with sweet aroma following Him.
It's not emotionally deadening to hold incomplete knowledge, but it is killing you if your arrogances are strangling you. Examine your deepest resentments-you have much to gain, and nothing to lose but your bad attitude. And, ask Christ, “How shall I proceed now?” You may be surprised at the emotional Spring-cleaning.
“…I tell you,
ask, and it will be given to you;
seek, and you will find;
knock, and it will be opened to you.
For everyone who asks receives,
and the one who seeks finds,
and to the one who knocks it will be opened.
What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent;
or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?
If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children,
how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” Luke 11: 9-13 ESV
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” Rev 3:20 ESV