What’s Eating You?

It was a rotten morning. I arrived at work late. Almost as soon as I walked in the door, a nurse administrator approached me, angry, asking what I knew about an email she had received from corporate. I was caught in the middle and I still had to get my Monday morning report done before the 8:30 meeting.

From there I got about half a dozen calls from people who needed something from me right away, and I still had catching up to do from the week before. I was physically tired, emotionally spent, and in a depressed mood. It was only 10 AM.

As I tried to gear up to meet with a case worker, I realized I was not my usual self. I didn’t want to be nice and I didn’t want to make small talk. The bright spot was a young man in street clothes who held a door for me. That little bit of kindness was like a ray of sunshine slicing through the clouds of my dark mood.

On my way back to the office from the hospital, I caught a snippet of Insight for Living on WFRN. Chuck Swindoll was talking about forgiveness. He was talking about how holding onto the anger and resentment from past hurts prevents you from having a kind heart toward others.

I had never thought about that before. What resentment was I holding onto that was preventing me from wanting to be considerate to others? As I went over the morning’s events at work, I could think of a few people who had frustrated me, and instead of addressing it, I had held onto that anger.

Dr. Swindoll went on to quote from the book Wishful Thinking: A Seeker’s ABC by Frederick Buechner. In his book, Buechner states that anger is the most delicious of the 7 deadly sins. We relish our hurts, lick our wounds, and fantasize about avenging ourselves on the ones who cause pain. We enjoy every morsel as we devour the memories of that pain and the privilege of our victimhood.

When we finish our feasting we realize that the skeleton that we’ve picked apart with delight is our own, and we have destroyed ourselves in the process.

If that image doesn’t make you ready to rid yourself of all your grudges, I don’t know what will. As I thought about my frustrations, I realized nothing would be gained by confronting anyone. I was going to have to forgive and let go.

By resenting each interruption in my day, I had gotten to the point where I didn’t care about others. I didn’t take the time to greet others or ask how they were doing. I was too worried about my own problems.

My day didn’t get any easier. When I left the office, however, I left everything at the door. After an all-day rain, a ray of sunshine invaded the oppressive layer of clouds for a moment, and I felt like God was clearing away the darkness in my heart. I felt human again.


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