Resentment, anger and rotten attitudes are often riding partners and once they get their hooks into you they can be hard to get rid of. Hard but not impossible.
Awhile back something happened and I found myself angry and wrestling with a rotten attitude. The dialog inside my head was…not something I’d want anyone to hear. The longer the dialog ran, the worse it got until I finally realized that those mean voices had taken one little scrap of truth and twisted it into a full-blown tornado of lies running loose in my mind. Each time around it was bigger and badder than the previous round and the peace and joy in my life was being shredded.
It felt like the rotten attitude was making me stink as bad as a full garbage can on a hot summer day. Nothing I tried quieted the raging beast. The old trick of thinking about something else was a joke. It lasted 3.2 seconds before the rotten tornado resumed.
I tried confessing my anger and attitude–something I certainly needed to do because they were both wrong. Very wrong. Another 5.7 seconds of peace.
I tried berating myself. Nothing gained. In fact, that led to another monster pounding at the door of my mind, demanding some air time.
In desperation I whispered to God, “I can’t do this. I don’t have the strength to win this fight.”
Have you ever been there? So full of nastiness inside that you’re sickened by it yet helpless to make the changes necessary to conquer the beast? I have. More times than I like to admit. But the good news? God didn’t leave me there to be whipped and defeated.
Deep inside me I felt a whisper, “You resent it.”
“YES! Yes, I do.” I know I didn’t say it aloud, but inside I was shouting. “And I know it’s wrong, but I resent the situation it’s put me in.”
The resentment was fueling my anger. I suddenly saw them, connected and clinging to each other and to me, but the resentment was trying to hide behind the anger. Even as I acknowledged the resentment a flicker of hope shimmied through me.
I mulled that over, seeing it for what it was, feeling the tornado slow a bit. But I had work to do so I went on about my task at hand without putting the pieces together. A few minutes later the tornado was roaring again.
Another whispered plea to God, followed by another thought that could only come from God. “Will you thank Me for this?”
This is not the first time He’s asked me this question so I knew what I had to do. Mentally I buckled up and, instead of griping about everything in the situation, I began thanking God for things…for the person who precipitated all of it, for their friendship and love over the years, for the people who had stepped up and stepped in, and for every tiny piece of something that I could be thankful for. I was so focused on thanking God for things that I didn’t notice what had happened until I drew a breath, looking for the next thing to thank God for.
And discovered the raging tornado of nastiness and lies had been silenced. Muscles that had been tense and clenched for days were loose and limp, relieved of the strain of carrying the resentment and anger. That awful garbage-can-on-a-hot-summer-day stench no longer seemed to hover over me.
I drew in a deep breath and it felt sweet and good. Peaceful.
I was free again. Free of the rotten attitude and the resentment that fueled it.
What made the difference?
It certainly wasn’t pushing the problem into a closet or thinking good thoughts.
To beat the stranglehold of resentment and rotten attitude I had to…
- Acknowledge and name my problem. It wasn’t just a rotten attitude. It was Resentment. Anger. Selfishness.
- Confess the sins.
- Replace the griping with gratitude and thankfulness to God.
Repeat as often as necessary.
Those three things, together, broke apart the tornado of lies spawned by my resentment. It’s easy to think the first two steps are enough, or that they should be enough. But usually for me, they aren’t. The secret sauce that breaks the cycle is the last step. I need to replace all my bad thoughts–the griping and complaining–with thankfulness to God, even if I start with my teeth clenched and more determination to obey than with true gratitude. Simply making the choice to give thanks for things changes the course of my thoughts, attitudes, actions and feelings.
How about you?
Is resentment the instigator behind what you’ve been wrestling with lately?
Has there been a tornado of noise and lies running rampant inside your head?
Are you ready to end the cycle?
Are you willing to thank God?
Don’t put it off.
Do it now.
Written by Patty Wysong. Patty Wysong spent much of the last ten years in a desert season. God called her aside, and after fighting it too long, she acquiesced and never regretted it. In that desert she found the deeper joy and fulfillment she'd been longing for. The wilderness became a place of beauty and refreshment to her. But now, God has drawn her out and she's relishing into this new season, even as she holds dear the lessons of the wilderness. She used to blog at Patterings, and one day soon she may again.