BY DIRECTOR JULIE SCHEIB - DISCOVERY HOUSE, INC.
The word resentment originates from the French "ressentir," which translates to intensive feeling. Today, the English word has become synonymous with anger, spite, or holding a grudge (Wikipedia). Do you ever find yourself re-feeling the original anger you felt every time you think of someone, or some situation where you felt you were wronged? Are you simply unwilling, or just unable to let go and forgive? That is the practical definition of resentment.
Is it really necessary to let go of resentments, and why or why not? I have read that holding on to a resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die. It is allowing that person to live rent-free in your head. The target of your resentment isn't bothered in the least. In reality, psychologist believe that resentments may be a cover-up for feelings of fear, hurt, guilt or self-doubt. They can be destructive and lead to violent behavior or illness in non-violent people.
What about forgiveness? In the Bible in Hebrews 8:12, forgiveness is described as God being merciful toward our sins and remembering them no more (if we repent and ask for forgiveness.) In Psalms 103:12, it is noted that, "as far as the east is from the west, so far does He (the Lord) remove our transgressions from us."
We are called to forgive our brothers and sisters – anyone we feel has wronged us. If we want Christ's forgiveness, we must be willing to forgive others, even ourselves. I watched a segment on TV recently about a woman who was imprisoned in one of Hitler's concentration camps during WWII. The moderator asked her how she felt about the number of Jews killed during the Holocaust. She replied that she has prayed for Hitler and has forgiven him. What a selfless, courageous act that must have given this woman a real sense of peace in her heart and soul – the exact kind we can find when we release resentments and forgive.
Holding on to resentments can be destructive in so many ways. Our emotions, thoughts, prayers and relationships can all be negatively impacted. I have learned the best way to let go of a resentment is to pray for the person, even if you are just going through the motions and are not sincere initially. If you persevere, eventually you will come to mean it, and where there once was resentment, it will be replaced with forgiveness. Do yourself a favor and give it a try.