It was about 9pm on my 40th birthday. I was in a funk during this time in my life. I can honestly look back and say that I was smack dab in the middle of a depression, for various reasons. I kept wondering why my mother hadn’t even called to say, “Happy Birthday.” There was anger. There was bitterness. Oh, but it wasn’t just over the lack of phone call from her on my birthday.
I would look around and notice my friends’ relationships with their mothers. I would look back to times in my life when moms would be there for there kids and grandkids at sporting events, etc. Other friends’ moms always had to be the driver when we wanted to go to the movies. I can look back and see that I was lacking something I had longed for. I wanted what other girls had. I wanted a mother. A mother who would be there. A mother who would encourage you and hold you when there were tough times. A grandmother for grandchildren. It just didn’t make sense to me. This didn’t change over the years. No, I wasn’t jealous of my friends. I began to grow bitter over my mother, for the mother that she wasn’t. For the mother that I so desperately longed for. I became resentful.
I have tried to talk to my mom about my feelings. I learned that you just can’t change people. I blamed her for a lot of things in my life. Resentment is an ugly thing. Resentment is a nasty poison in your soul and it can be hard to get rid of. Resentment was turning me into someone I didn’t want to be. Resentment looks like worshiping the quicksand that person stands on. You wait for them to go down; meanwhile, you’re sinking in your own quicksand. Resentment and bitterness can ruin a soul. I let it get to me for years.
“Resentment kills a fool, and envy slays the simple.” -Job 5:2 (NIV)
Since I couldn’t change my mother, I had to look to change myself and my response to the hurt I felt. You know, with God, everything really is possible. It was only by his amazing grace that he helped me to see resentment for what it was. I made it all about me and what I didn’t have, rather than looking to my mom and her life. I never even thought to look at what really could have lead her to be this way. God taught me how to love my mom for who she is and not for how I felt.
Romans 12:18 says, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live a peace with everyone.” Say what? We might ask, “God, do you really mean everyone?” How do we get rid of this bitterness and resentment? How can we continue to work on our feelings rather than letting this ugliness grow in our hearts?
1. God requires forgiveness.
God didn’t really think it was possible to live at peace with everyone, that’s why he said, “If it is possible…” But he does require that we forgive others (Ephesians 4:32). This road certainly is not always
easy, is it? Our lack of forgiveness allows us to collect bitterness in
a nice little Mason jar, letting it grow into full-blown, slimy,
resentment. It may look like we can’t forgive but sometimes we have
to look at ourselves and see that we were unwilling to forgive.
2. We forgive because God forgave us.
We may not understand why we have to do this, but Jesus does. He
was spit on, beaten, mocked and hung on a cross made of wood to
die a gruesome death. He loved all of us and the whole world enough
to do this (see John 3:16). We may think he only died for us, but
really, he died for the whole world–including that person who has
offended you. We forgive as Christ has forgiven us. Before you say
“Yikes!”, hold on. There’s help.
3. If we can’t forgive them, we can pray for them.
God knows every turning in your stomach, every nasty thought,
inside of you. he knows how the other person has hurt you too. You
know how? Because he was there. We may not be able to forgive on
our own, but God can help us with his mighty power. It’s not easy to
start praying. This could be the hardest thing you’ve ever had to do.
You may not even know what to pray for. It’s okay. God knows. Just
lean into him.
Even though I haven’t gone to my mom directly to tell her I forgive her, I gave it all to God. I confessed and repented of all my feelings. I started to pray for my mom and her heart, her life, her circumstances; some that I may never even know about.
I’ve shared these little things with you to hopefully help you if you’re experiencing bitterness and resentment in your life. I don’t want you to be robbed of the joy you can experience when your heart isn’t full of all that muck and guck.
Remember the beauty of grace. Unmerited favor. God gives us this wonderful gift each and every day for the mistakes we’ve made and for the mistakes we’re going to make. For our offenses. For our wrongs. That same grace can spill over into the people in our life that have caused us hurt. We need to give them grace for things that could have happened in their life, making them into the person they are today. This is exactly what I learned, only in the last few years, with my mom. Sometimes things are just out of their control. People do the best they can with what they have. Maybe they don’t know how to change because this has been a part of them for so long.
Let’s go to God, give him all this yuck in our hearts and minds. Let’s ask him for clean hearts. Let’s thank him for his abundant grace and ask him to help us pour it into others’ lives. God loves you. He knows you. He doesn’t want to see you like this. God is good. Trust him.
Hugging you so tight,