Thursday, January 17, 2008

"Having resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die" -- Malachy McCourt

What upset me more than anything is that for the first time in my life, I was actively hating someone. I’ve never hated anyone - not even people who have done me physical and spiritual harm. But I was hating this fellow. And hating him even more for “making me” hate him.

Which, of course, he could not do. No one can “make” you hate; I simply allowed hate in; I welcomed it in, gave it an honored chair and fed it. And fed it. And it was incredibly destructive and oppressive - to me, mostly - but it did nothing good for anyone who had to be around me if the subject had my head. My whole family, and a few friends, have had to endure watching me give myself over to this resentment, allowing it to have its way with me, and to own me, body and soul.
The Anchoress tells a story that we all can relate to ... one of resenting the treatment of a loved one, struggling with hate, feeling powerless in its grip, and, finally, of having loved ones become God's prophets ... called not to make us comfortable with our wrongdoing but to set us straight, even if it makes us uncomfortable. A truthful and fantastic story, and one not to be missed.

If only I could say that I did not related to that story. The one personal addition I will make is that when attending my CRHP retreat several years ago, I walked into the church with the group for Mass, saw that many of them had loved ones who had risen early and come in support of them. Instantly I thought of Tom (not there because he was home taking care of our girls ... and I knew this intellectually). I was filled with a resentment and hate of him for not being there that I could literally feel. It began at the top of my head and poured down my body as boiling hot, acidic liquid. I can't explain this except to say that I felt it. I also knew that it was deadly and would undo all the miraculous work of the Holy Spirit thus far. I could hold onto that hateful resentment or I could consciously reject it. I thought, "No! I'm not doing this," and pushed it away. Period. That feeling was instantly gone. The blessing of all that is that I recognized what was happening and rejected it so quickly. Truly, it was another miracle of that retreat because that would not have been my usual reaction.

I try to remember that feeling, which I have never had again, whenever I am subject to recurring fits of self pity, resentment, or ... yes ... hatred. It is a good reminder of what those feelings do to our souls when we indulge in them.

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