Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Resentment and forgiveness

I've had a lot of opportunities to be resentful lately. I try hard to be giving in my life, and sometimes that leads to people taking advantage of me, and that never feels good. I sometimes want to teach someone a lesson when they take me for granted. "Oh yeah?" I think. "Well what if I just didn't want to?" It's a bad attitude. It's resentment.

Today I had one of those opportunities. To avoid naming names, I'll be vague. Some friends had left a mess, and the one who would normally clean up didn't show for our regularly scheduled meetup. My first thought was disbelief, then judgement. "Oh, X person is always so irresponsible." Then I told myself that I shouldn't be surprised because I already knew that part of X person's nature. What was the real clincher was that the mess had to be cleaned up for a special meeting of strangers that needed to be impressed a little. So in order to make the place presentable, it had to be me and my roommate to cover X person's backside, who, I felt, was lucky that we'd showed up at all.

After getting the place ready for the meeting, I sent my roommate a snarky text message about how the dark carpet would cover the blood stains if I killed X person. I realize how uncharitable that was, but in my defense, that dark carpet surely does cover blood stains, and I was thinking of the movie "The Unsinkable Molly Brown." But it made me appear angry when I was really just annoyed. I'm not sure if this was passed on by my roommate, but later in the day, I got an apologetic text message from one of the people responsible for the mess. I thought about how I could respond. "It's fine" didn't seem right. It wasn't fine to repeatedly shirk responsibility. But it all got done, and I lost no special time out of my day to do it. What it was was all right.

"It's all right." I said, but what I meant was "All is right between us." I do not want to stay angry at my friends. I don't want to resent them, keep record of wrongs, scoff "Typical!" like a bitter Brit. If I can't be forgiving to my friends, who can I be forgiving to? If any one of us can't be forgiving, how can we ask for grace?

More than having to clean up someone else's mess, I was disappointed that my friend didn't show because I was really looking forward to kicking back and talking about Jesus and what to do about Him. Looking back on today, I wonder if God chose to give me a more direct lesson.