Resentment ravages the soul and pulls us into a dark abyss of loss and ache and despair. The healing power of forgiveness breaks us free of those chains that hold us down. But in order to truly forgive, we must commit to the process of forgiveness and find the cloaked anger.
Hidden Seeds of Evil
Once we decide to climb out of that abyss and forgive, and we have made the decision to commit to the process, there may be hidden seeds of evil we find along our journey. What are those seeds and what are we supposed to do with them when we find them?
I’m glad you asked, because those seeds are symptoms of anger that spring up in the most unexpected situations and definitely, when we don’t want them to. They create thickets full of thorns and briars that make our journey difficult, even causing us to turn back and forsake our quest of forgiveness.
Can’t I just bury them?
Smiling through pain and pleasing others can have serious consequences, especially when pleasing others goes against our values and makes us feel less than. Stuffing emotion and giving in at all costs may get you through the moment, but those seeds will spring up in anger and deter you from the path to wholeness.
Noticing our feelings, owning the whole yucky discomfort of the feeling, and then sharing them through fair discussions are healthy ways to implement boundaries. Learning how to say no when we mean no is healthy, rather than agreeing and filling our schedule until we’re exhausted and feel used, and then harboring feelings of resentment that we are not appreciated enough.
Darlene Lancer, JD, MFT identified symptoms that will destroy relationships and increase our own anger and resentment:
· Having the expectation that others can make us happy.
· Saying yes when we mean no.
· Writing our own story and having secret expectations of others
· Being afraid to confront others
· To ignore our own needs for the needs of others until resentment festers
· Trying to control others
· “hinting, blaming, nagging, accusing” and becoming angry because others can’t read our minds.
· Refusing to implement healthy boundaries
As you can see, stuffing all of the above deep inside yourself won’t make the emotions and feelings go away. These seeds will grow and become the tallest trees that darken your sky, and those trees will withhold the sun from your view and keep you in the dark.
Even if you don’t overtly recognize anger in your own life, if you harbor resentment, anger is there. It can be cloaked and hidden and can manifest itself in other ways rather than through obvious screaming and yelling, revenge, and other abusive behaviors.
For example, anger can also present itself through sarcasm, cold silence, pouting, playing the victim card, judging others and being overly critical of others. Constant negativity and being self-destructive through negative behavior are also symptoms of hidden anger. These are only a few, but you get where I’m going with this.
As we discussed in previous blogs on resentment and forgiveness, the quest of forgiveness is a process and it takes commitment to avoid the seeds of anger. Anger will destroy relationships, productivity, and a happy life. When we express unhealthy anger, we suffer, and we cause others to suffer along with us.
Can you feel inappropriate anger lurking, coming to the surface, and rearing its ugly head when you least expect it? Does it hurt others? Does it cause you pain and guilt and shame?
If you’re stuck and can’t seem to let go of anger and resentment, reach out to a friend or counselor. Sometimes it helps to walk alongside someone for a short time on your journey. There can be strength in numbers.
Digging deep, being honest with ourselves and letting ourselves feel, are key components toward wholeness and healing. No one travels a long distance in a moment, even though with a Jet we can get there fast; there is still a journey.
Acknowledge the hurt, take responsibility for stuffing the pain, implement healthy boundaries and watch your frown turn into a smile. Others will notice the new light inside you, and you will emerge from the forest a new person.
Healthy anger is not a monster and will not devour you or others. Dig deep for the cloaked anger that will surely steal your joy and choose to live lighter.
1 Corinthians 13:4-5 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful (ESV)