Resentment is Heavy
By Kristen Zook
Ever been hiking? It’s one of my favorite things. Some people love it, some can’t stand it. I don’t need you to be a hiking enthusiast to read this post, but it would help if you can at least conjure up a little hike in your imagination. I’ll help...
Let’s say you’re hiking along a trail. It is a beautiful, rugged trail. Some parts are steep and difficult, others are quite pleasant. At times along the trail, you are walking next to a beautiful creek with plenty of fresh water to cool off with. There are also stretches in between where there isn’t much water. In some places along the path, the trees are thick and other places lead you right into gorgeous, sunny clearings. Occasionally you meet other hikers, but often you’re making your way alone. There are moments you feel lost and a little afraid, but you always seem to end up back on your trail.
Now, since you’re hiking, I’m assuming you’re wearing a backpack with all the necessary supplies. Extra food, water, maybe a dry change of clothes. All good things to have when you’re out on an adventure.
As you move along, your toe catches an exposed root and brings you to the ground. You are frustrated and a little banged up. In your annoyance, you pull the root all the way out of the ground and put it in your backpack. “Ha! That’ll teach you!” you say to the root. “You’ll never trip me again!”
A mile or so later, you step on a loose rock. Your ankle gives out and again, you fall to the ground. Now you’re pissed. You pick up the rock and angrily throw it into your backpack.
You continue on the trail for miles, just like this. Every now and then a root, rock, twig, or stick trips you up. Each time, you put the offender in your backpack. After several miles, your backpack is much, much heavier than when you started. You’ve run out of room for any of your survival items. The easy, flat parts of the trail no longer feel easy because of the weight on your shoulders. The steep parts? Nearly impossible.
This, beautiful friend, is what resentment does to us. It replaces joy with heaviness and makes difficult times nearly impossible.
The rocks and sticks that trip us could be anything. That guy that lied to you and broke your heart. The boss that didn’t see your full potential and promoted someone else over you. The fire that burned down your house. The cancer that took one of your favorite people too soon. The rainstorm that ruined your outdoor event. The trail of Life is full of these things.
Let me be clear, it is not only okay, but necessary to feel all your feelings about being tripped up or knocked down. Anger, rage, frustration, grief… they’re all part of it. It is healthy to feel those things.
(We’ve talked about this before- read this blog post next.)
HOWEVER, ← note the big “however” because this is important!!!
Once you’ve felt the feelings, you need to set down the rocks and move along the trail. A lifetime is too long to carry such heavy things.
Don’t believe me? Think about the elderly people you know. Some of them are just magnetic -- you want to be around them because of their wisdom, their humor, and cheerfulness. They know how to have fun and they bring joy to everyone they meet.
Unfortunately, not everyone gets to live their last years like this. Many people save up all their resentments. A lifetime of wrongs leaves a scowl on their face, bitter words in their mouth, and not many friends or relatives willing to put up with them. It’s not that their life was any harder or easier, it’s that they held onto the resentment. One at a time, they placed stones and roots and rocks and twigs in their backpack along the way. All those stones, roots, rocks, and twigs should only have brought them down for a moment… yet, they held them back for a lifetime.
The thing is, tripping and falling are not always avoidable. Those sneaky little rocks will always be there. Sure, we can do our best to keep a sharp eye out, wear the right shoes, and map out our trail. But, every now and again, we will get caught by surprise and end up on the ground. It’s not really fair. But, the trail (i.e. Life) is hard enough without holding onto all those heavy things, isn’t it?
Enjoy the journey. Don’t carry what you don’t need to. Resentment is heavy and part of the bullshit. And you are better than the bullshit. 😉