Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Getting on my nerves: Forgiveness struggles #1


Struggles with bitterness and resentment aren't really something we Christians talk about very openly. Speaking for myself, I'm embarrassed to have these struggles and these ugly spots in my heart. All the same, every so often I find myself struggling against resentment and bitterness, especially when dealing with various people who have treated me badly. In keeping with Paul's instructions "Get rid of all bitterness" (etc.) I'd originally planned a spiritual Spring Cleaning for Lent. I have now decided that I'd rather not wait for Lent. Bitterness and anger work against love, and are often temptations to hatred. The sooner I address it, the better.

I'll have to ask you all to bear with me on this post. It's awfully forthright. It does not exactly show me in the best light, but I decided to post it in the hopes that other people might recognize their own struggles. The list below is not meant to justify my anger; it is simply meant to locate the problem. The next post on the subject will be more edifying, but this one has to come first: tracing down the various roots of bitterness and resentment, and being forthright with myself about the things that I need to address.

I'd originally made this list for my own private use by name of each person who has been getting on my nerves. I'm omitting the names in this published version. At first I hesitated to even acknowledge the various resentments that were growing inside me because I wasn't sure what good it would accomplish. I'll show the advantage of making such a list in my next post. It turns out to have been a real help to be specific about not only who was getting on my nerves, but also what, exactly, was bothering me.

For now, I just identify resentments: where I struggle with forgiveness and love.
Who's bothering meWhat's bothering me
Anonmyous #1
  • For pouncing on every mistake I make, no matter how small, and overlooking anything I do right, no matter how large or difficult
  • For regularly refusing to be more than coldly polite
  • For often refusing to be even coldly polite
  • Although we need to work with each other to get through the day, being pointedly uncooperative and seeming to delight in making things difficult
  • In sum, for treating me unjustly and with seeming hatred no matter what I do
Anonmyous #2
  • For keeping me at arm's length even though we are family
  • For believing every story told about me without checking whether it is accurate
  • For making all Christian holidays unpleasant by pointed, hostile "indifference"
Anonmyous #3
  • For avoiding family occasions
  • For rehearsing stories of every wrong thing I've done even back to elementary school, and in front of other people who do not know first-hand whether the stories as retold are fair or accurate; in effect training certain other people to dislike me and getting in low shots when I am unaware and unable to speak in my own defense
Anonmyous #4
  • For treating a friend of mine as worthless
  • For encouraging this friend to stay unemployed so that she would be justified in ignoring his thoughts on finances and treating him as worthless
  • For putting him in a no-win situation and then blaming him for losing
And just for good measure,
Anonmyous #5 -- some older stuff that still bothers me sometimes
  • For belittling me, treating me with contempt, and constantly holding over my head the threat of rejection and abandonment
  • For abandoning me in a hundred little ways before finally and officially abandoning me
In the next post: what good can possibly come from opening that can of worms.

7 comments:

DugALug said...

WF,

My prayers go out to you sister.

God Bless
Doug

P.S. (an after-thought) said...

There are people on your list who must live with me. I hadn't thought about the verse on bitterness, but you are right! I need to work on my attitude back toward certain people. And sometimes that means forgiveness. Well, especially it means forgiveness when the other person isn't able to see how he contributes to the dis-ease between us and blames me entirely. I can't control that person; I can only forgive.

Weekend Fisher said...

Thanks for the encouragement, both of you. I think the hardest part of this little exercise was just deciding that this needed to be addressed and trying to make a "getting on my nerves" list without descending into some horrible frame of mind.

After I got far enough to see how to "do unto others" as in the next post, it's not just that I feel better but also that relationships with *some* (not all) of the people on my list are beginning to thaw just a little bit.

P.S. (an after-thought) said...

Hey, how did you find out the personal tidbit you posted on my blog? It isn't in my profile.

Weekend Fisher said...

You made a comment sometime -- I think it may have been on some meme you were playing where you listed things on the day you were born or some such. You mentioned your birthday being the day before 12th Night or something to that effect. Since my nephew's birthday is also the day before 12th Night and my own birthday is 12th Night, I happened to remember.

P.S. (an after-thought) said...

so...HBTY HBTY HBT...Y...OOO, HBTY

I remember now. Someone suggested looking up the Bday on Wikipedia.

Weekend Fisher said...

:)

Thank you. I enjoyed that.