Ephesians 4:31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice.
Paul's instructions are not hard to understand, but they are hard to do. I can struggle with knowing where to start. It turns out that a resentments inventory is a tool fairly well designed for that purpose.
For anyone who has never taken a resentment inventory, the first action is simply to make a list. If there is any person, principle, or institution with which we are not at peace and it involves a resentment, the task is to name the person and name the cause of the resentment. One that is done, then we name how the thing resented affects us.
When looking at my own list, I can see the same trend from the example in the AA fellowship text: a resentment often grows around times when I feel wronged, slighted, or see that my long-term plans are threatened. When practicing self-examination, after the list is made we set aside the other person's role. When left to my own devices, I would never set aside the other person's role. In my own mind, the focus of a resentment is always the person or thing resented. But if our goal is self-examination, then what the other person did is not actually our problem. Granted that another person said unfair things about me; wasn't I prepared to judge the situation for myself? Granted that another person interfered in my plans; why did I allow that to happen? Why it affects us, how it affects us, these are more worthy of consideration.
I find that I tend to resent people and things that devalue me, with an underlying trend of doubt about belonging, doubt about being valued, and fear of problems that I cannot solve myself. I also hold resentments about things that put my own goals and dreams at risk, again with an underlying fear: that opportunities lost may not be recovered, and some blame-passing about whether I am responsible for ordering my own life. So a step back from the original resentment, and focusing on my own part rather than someone else's, tends to show fear or self-doubt or blame-passing. As long as I am in resentment, I have adopted a passive stance. Looking at the underlying causes opens up some doors out of the situation.
(To be continued.)