Am I the only one this week who feels the loving elbow of God nudging itself somewhat forcefully into her ribs?
It’s OK if I’m the only one. Because I am in a season – or I guess more specifically a valley – where God and I are wrestling out another piece of my broken human spirit.
And as of today, this piece now has a name. Resentment.
Getting to work this morning, the first thing I encountered was a message that exemplifies the spirit of my office – “that’s not my job … that’s your job”.
And upon reading that, the dark cloud hanging over my head for a few days (OK, maybe weeks), gloomy yet unnamed, suddenly had a name. And that name is resentment.
What is weighing me down is resentment. That darkness that creeps a few steps deeper into my consciousness is resentment. And it is an overall ugliness of mind, tongue, and attitude that wants to consume me like the cloud that covers Pigpen in Peanuts cartoons.
So I never see clearly.
So I never think rationally.
So I never speak grace-fully.
And there resentment hangs a black cloud over my head, slowly blowing its breeze of depression and oppression over me.
And since I accept the breeze and breathe it in, I am slowly becoming a walking epitome of resentment.
I am angry.
I am mad.
I am furious.
I am upset.
I am anxious.
I am frustrated.
I am sad.
I am honestly a little disgusted.
I am all kinds of levels of crazy and messed up. Because I have fed into the spirit of resentment. I have given it a place. I have allowed it space. And therefore it is hindering my race. I am off-track of God’s purpose and off-course of God’s grace.
Because I am letting “it is not my job” and “that is not my problem” attitudes affect me. I am allowing resentment to come in, sit down, and participate in the day.
And this is the boom God dropped on me in just in a few minutes this morning. God and I had a serious moment when I started seeing all of this clearly and when my angst was given a name.
And there was actually a moment of celebration. Yes, really. No joke. Why?
Because now I can tame what has been named. Because now I can claim God’s grace over what has been named.
I can now tame – and completely stop – the influence of resentment in my life.
I can now tame – and completely still – my agitated thoughts and careless tongue.
I can now tame – and completely silence – my bad/ugly/hostile attitudes.
Because my angst has a name. And because it does, it is subject to God’s authority. Philippians 2:9-11 – “9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Everything on earth is subject to His glorious name.
So now the challenge becomes how do I deal with it.
What’s the battlefield? Every minute of every day of human life.
More narrowly? The hours spent at work.
What’s the victory?
Not letting resentment consume me.
Not letting resentment define my emotional state.
Not letting resentment guide/influence my choices.
Because resentment is a valley.
And we aren’t supposed to live or stay in the valleys. We aren’t supposed to bunk down or camp out in the valley. Because the valley is only a testing ground. It is the place of decision where we have to decide to put our faith into action. It is the passageway from one victory to the next. It is the place where we are strengthened by truth and encouraged by progress to continue our journey. The valley is where we decide – and then declare – God is faithful and true.
So why am I stuck, mired down in resentment? Because I have forgotten that we have to do what God says and to move in His direction when we are in the valley. We have to keep moving toward the given way out instead of standing still. We have to be like David and run in faith with the great hope of grace (1 Samuel 17:48).
But I have not been trying to get out of the valley of resentment. Instead, I have been building walls and stacking them as high as they can go. I have not been walking through. Instead, I have planted my feet firmly and refused to move. I have not tired to be or do better, in any way. Instead, I have chosen to embrace resentment and wallow in her ways.
So what’s the hard truth this time? Resentment is NOT God’s best for me. It never will be. Because resentment keeps me stuck, unmoving and unchanging, in its deadly quicksand-like vise. Because resentment keeps me from letting go of what does not promote God’s goodness or propel God’s plans.
Hebrews 12:1 – “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”
I am not running toward God. I am clinging to resentment. I am weighing myself down with foolishness and trapping myself in resentment’s sinful web.
And I own this. Fully and completely. Therefore, God’s grace can begin its healing and restorative work.
Because resentment cannot hide in the shadows or stay cloaked in darkness once it is named. It has a name now. It is known now. Its effects are seen now.
Romans 5:3-5 – “3 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”
Now hope can invade all resentment’s spaces and fill me up with grace.
Now hope can begin a new work.
Yes, I am still in the valley.
Yes, I am still finding resentment in spaces within my heart.
But God is with me.
God is for me.
God loves me.
So one day very soon I will be able to triumphantly declare my victory over resentment!
Marie Fremin. 5/18 and 5/21/17