Healthy Relationships: Resentment vs. Forgiveness (Part 3 of 4)

For this series, I want to focus on asking you this question: Do you want to be resentful about the past or do you want to pursue forgiveness? When you think of your most important and personal relationships, how do you view problems and this relationship topic called resentment. When you get to a place in which you are wanting to not be resentful and instead think of ways to be forgiving, you are investing in building healthy relationships. But when you resent someone, you build unhealthy intentions and relationships due to your unresolved frozen anger.

Ultimately, we then start to form very hurtful beliefs about people, about our past, and about how we are going to react or respond in the future. Resentments happen in the past but it does cloud or poison our present and future. This then leads to having difficulty forgiving. For example, a wife may think about her husband and feel anger and rage towards him concluding he owes her something and she feels the need to make him pay forever. She has a debt list and debt bank going on in which she feels he needs to pay back the debt owned for all the hurtful and mean things he did in the past.

This debt and owing strategy only really affects the wife. The husband goes on with his life not really affected by his behavior and reactions but the wife now is greatly affected due to her unresolved resentment. So some of the ways her resentment affects her as follows:

• She can’t get all the hurts and resentment out of her mind thus causing her to not be at peace or happy in the present.
• She focusing so much on what he did do and continues to do that it is hard for her to enjoy life now.
• She feels anger and depression regarding what he has done that she remains stuck and frustrated with him much of the time.
• She notices in her health that she has gained weight, and does experience headaches, stomachs, anxiety, fears, difficulty sleeping, and lonely.
• She now has a negative view of others being mistrustful and viewing others as bad, thoughtless people out to hurt her.

This is why this topic of resentment versus forgiveness is so important to our most personal relationships. When we hold onto our resentments, we bring the past into the present and into the future. When we hold onto our resentments, sometimes we like to hold onto them because then we can use them to have power over someone or we may use our resentments as a strategy or an excuse why we won’t do something for someone. Our past resentments fuel our thinking and our behavior and it becomes like luggage that we drag behind us as we view it as our friend and something to trust given now we don’t trust.

But when we choose to forgive, we began the process of wanting to stop the hurt that our resentments are hurting us. In general, resentments keep us stuck and frozen; forgiveness helps us get unstuck and unfrozen. Resentments cause us to put on a mask and say we are fine; forgiveness results in us taking off our masks and being real about our hurt so we can forgive. Resentments only hurt us; forgiveness can heal us.

For those of you who find yourself identify with the Christian faith tradition, this topic of forgiveness is really, really important to how you view life. Because what Jesus did on the cross was to cancel the debt and resentment and instead he exchanged our resentment for his forgiveness. As Christians we know a debt had to be pain and Jesus death paid the debt so now we are forgiven. For those of you who come from a different faith or religious tradition, you may identify with some of these similar ideas based upon your religious beliefs.

But the most important aspect of this forgiveness is to really get to the point where you can look over at your spouse, at your best friend who hurt you, and your past family members and find a way to forgive or cancel the debt you have towards them. Resentful people are waiting and waiting for that day when the person who hurt them will confess and finally come forward and identify or say something to the affect that they apologize for what they have done and say to you how sad or bad they feel for how they hurt you.

As you know, unhealthy relationships or intentions probably will be waiting forever for the other person to do this. It may or may not happen. But those people who want to practice and pursue forgiving one another as a daily or weekly conversation, they are wanting to build healthy intentions or healthy relationships. When you forgive, whether that person apologizes or not, is really good for you and helpful to you. Sure, when you find friends and family in your personal and meaningful relationships also want to value and practice forgiving rather than holding onto grudges and resentment, you are in the process of having a healthy relationship.

The challenge for all of us is to weigh out the difference between holdings on to our resentment or holding on to our forgiveness is really the difference between those who want a healthy relationship life and those who don’t. You can’t make someone apologize and you can’t make someone change to stop hurting you. That is fantasy life. People are going to hurt you in the present and the future. Resentful people don’t confront the hurt; forgiving people do confront the hurt and find a way to forgive and let it go. Thanks for reading.