Tag Archives: valley

Resentment

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.

resentment 1

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.

resentment 2

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 – “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.

 

Including resentment.

 

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 – “And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. 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

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Go Through the Valley!

I was in a small group setting this week, and we were talking about life’s hard circumstances. Things you can’t control. When things don’t go your way. When things seem impossible. When things are frightening. When things look like they are never going to change. When you face the unfair consequences of someone else’s choices. And our natural human response is anger.

Go Through the Valley 1

Yes, we get mad. Yes, God knows we’re going to get mad. Yes, God understands our mad.

Jesus overturned the tables in the temple in anger (John 2:15) at the greed in God’s house. So Jesus understands and can sympathize with us in those moments of anger. But Hebrews 4:15-16 is a great reminder to us that we need to bring our mad to God – “15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

What help do we need? God wants us to bring our mad to Him and submit our raging emotions to His grace.

Why? Because anger is unproductive.  It isn’t an emotion that drives us to change, to repent, to think differently, or to forgive.  When we eat, sleep, and breathe our anger, fear, and doubt, we have shut the door on God being able to reach us and help us.  It keeps us prisoner in whatever chains are currently binding us, and there is no key to freedom as long as we are its willing prisoner.  Yes, we are a willing participant in our anger when we refuse to see beyond it, diffuse it, and let it go.  OUCH!

Yes, bad things happen. God says in Psalm 23:4 that we walk through the valley.  We will go through the valley (trials, hard circumstances, unjust accusations). Notice God does not say “if”, which would indicate the valley is a maybe possibility.  He says it will happen, and we can’t stop it or control it.  But how we respond to it is the difference.

Go Through the Valley 2

God says we need to walk through and be honest about the experience.  Are you mad?  Say you’re mad.  Are you sad?  Say you’re sad.  Are you ticked off?  Say you’re ticked off.  Do you want to shake your fists and scream?  Do it.  This doesn’t surprise God, and it doesn’t hurt His feelings.

The problem comes when we linger in the valley.  When we pull up a chair at the pity-party table and constantly complain about what is happening to us.  When we choose to let go of our hope of redemption and salvation through Him.  When we only look at the negative instead of at least trying to see God’s hand at work (and I admit here that sometimes we can’t see God working for us until we’re completely through).  When we refuse to pray and praise and instead take up a strike against God.  When we stubbornly refuse to cling to hope and instead defiantly sit down and pout. When we refuse to think positively, act lovingly, or behave differently.

OUCH again!  But we’ve all been there and done that.

I think what God was saying in Psalm 23 is that you will go through, but you don’t have to stay. You are supposed to go through without stopping (but for a moment) to doubt, to question, to wonder, to blame, and to yell.  You aren’t supposed to take up residence in the valley, where it’s all about you and your lying emotions.  You’re supposed to keep walking, with eyes focused on God and His promises of hope instead of the storms raging around you.

When Peter was looking at Jesus in Matthew 14:29, what happened?  He overcame the storm, and he walked on water.  But when Peter stopped looking at Jesus in Matthew 14:30, what happened?  The storm overcame him, and he began to sink.  Did Jesus turn His back because Peter allowed himself to get distracted?  No!  Jesus heard Peter’s distressed call and reached out “immediately” to help Peter get back on track (Matthew 14:31).

Go Through the Valley 3

And that’s what He’s waiting to do for you.  He’s waiting for you to stop looking at the storm and look to Him for strength, wisdom, grace, strength, endurance, hope, encouragement, and faith.  He’s waiting for you to decide that He is bigger than the storm – whatever your circumstance is – and trust Him. He is waiting to walk WITH you and help you carry your burdens to the foot of the cross, where He has already redeemed everything for your good and His glory.  He is waiting patiently for you to say, “God, I am furious about this. But I want to let it go because I know You are bigger than my circumstance and have a better plan for my life.”

2 Corinthians 3:18 says we are changed “from glory to glory”.  I believe that “glory” is revelation, but it is so much bigger that God just directly speaking to us.  We are changed by each experience – each hardship, each harsh word, each compliment, each victory, each defeat, each smile, each frown, each silent moment, each doubt, each moment of faith, each fear, each moment of trust, each step of belief, each thought of positivity or negativity.  Everything impacts us and our walk with God.  Each moment is a moment where we allow the “glory” of God to shine in us and through us – or not.  Each day is filled with moments of new opportunity to think right, act right, talk right, believe right, respond right, and love right.

And when we choose to linger in the valley, it’s hard to get anything right.  Because it’s all about me – how I feel, what I want, why I’m right.  And God reminds us over and over again that it’s never all about us.  In fact, I think it’s rarely just about us.  Just as Abram’s belief wasn’t just about him – it was about all the generations of faith that would be birthed because he believed – so it isn’t just about us.  It’s about us reaching out to people and helping them where they are, in their hurt and pain and shame and guilt.  It’s about us helping them walk through the valley to the victory on the other side. It’s about helping people know God’s love and find a new level of His glory in their lives.

And even when we get it wrong, there is His promise that He is still faithful.  2 Timothy 2:13 says – “If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself“.  So when we don’t get it right, when we linger in the valley, when we refuse to let go – He is still God.  He is still good.  He is still faithful.  He is still waiting for us.

So are you staying in the valley?

What’s the cost to you?

What’s the benefit to others?

How about picking up your mat (John 5:8) and walking through to the other side?

He’s waiting with open arms, redeeming grace, and unconditional love. For you. Get up and go meet Him. And allow Him to walk with you, to make the valley less frightful, lonely, and dark.

— Marie Fremin, 9/25 and 9/27/15