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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Resentment – Weapon Against the Self

A young civil servant takes his young family “North” to the isolated Pilbara region of Australia to serve the community. Their travel plans are wrung with hope and they arrive esteemed in expectation. Soon, however, buoyancy makes way for bitterness...

What he finds up north does not gladden his heart at all—all the promises they listened to are realised, empty, in a harsh land of disappointment. That is his personal experience.

Apart from the detractive conditions of work, his home living conditions leave much to be desired. Not that his wife or children are bothered; they’d be perfectly happy if only he was. Yet, he’s busy looking over the fence at the miner with a better house and year-round air-conditioning.

Our civil servant friend is seen recoiling in a rut of despair, but is too proud to admit the depressive episode that’s burrowed its way into his psyche.

There is no joy in their home. What should be a place of solace for the kids after school, and a treasure trove of blessing for the parents, quickly becomes lifeless at its best and excruciating at its worst. This is all because of resentment; feelings of envy at the apparent unfairness of the system with which he’s placed.

The saddest thing: this resentment is tearing away at the heart of the perpetrator, for anything that destroys the family by self-sabotage destroys, also, the saboteur.

What Underlies This Sense of Resentment?

What may seem a maddening set of circumstances, even as felt by the one given to resentment, is easily explicable; perhaps not the specific issue, but enough of a clue to troubleshoot a way out of such resentment.

1. What has happened in this young man’s formative experience that has him so much yearning for success? Whether he knows it or not, he has defined success, and when he fails to live up to it—worse by cause of others—he’s livid. The way out of this problem is honest reflection; an honest journey to why, and an honest journey to acceptance for the way things are.

2. Even with a quick look around at the family dynamic an honest man can see the potential for marital conflict, bitterness, brokenness, and ultimately destruction. Why is there not empathy in his heart for his wife and children? They have no control over the circumstances that bother their husband and father. The family is always more important than the depths of the situation confronting us. Perhaps guilt pursues him and he vacillates between resentment and guilt.

3. There may be no way of changing the circumstance that confronts this young man. He, therefore, must challenge himself to adjust or to make the bold move to adjust the entire living situation—his family’s happiness and overall safety depend on it. The wisdom of prayer is best enlisted before making any rash decisions.

4. Resentment, like a malignant cancer, eats at us from the inside out; we cannot see it happening except by the grating sense of frustration that fuels an unrequited anger. We fix the resentment or it will ‘fix’ us—and those results won’t be pretty.

5. The vehicle that is resentment is taking us, and our loved ones, to a darker place than we in our right minds would desire. It is a weapon against ourselves, for when we hurt the ones we love we hurt no one, from a personal viewpoint, but ourselves.


There is a way out of resentment. First, we must reflect over what threatens us by the situation we’re resentful over. Then, we must plan; making our way through to healing is a critical path. Finally, when we’re all the way through that journey, perhaps years on, we take some humble satisfaction that we’ve learnt something.

Resentments hurt those we love and are, therefore, a boomerang back at us. Better to go into battle for ourselves in grace than against ourselves in resentment.

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

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