The Other Side of Resentment

I was a resentful woman. And I was sure I deserved to be.

This is how my story played out: I volunteer at the community center for an innocuous little garden project. An event beyond my control plumps it up into a large, dicey garden project. More people, more opinions, more egos get involved. And more of my time goes into managing this large, dicey garden project. More time I didn’t plan on and more time I sure didn’t have.

This isn’t what I signed up for, I thought. I’ve been unceremoniously tossed into the snake pit to manage an unwieldy project. And I’d like to tap out now, please. But I can’t. So, I’m stuck with the pythons.

Yes. I was resentful. And it was satisfying to be resentful. To point fingers, to feel unjustly wronged, to work myself into a righteous lather. So, I stewed good and hard in resentment.

Until one Thursday morning. I was out in the air by the water with the wind. But I wasn’t enjoying it. I was thinking about the stinking garden project. Nothing new, just the same stinking things I always thought: Not fair, not my responsibility. But somewhere between the air and the water and the wind, a new thought came to me:

You, Whelan, are trapped in resentment. You’re stuck thinking the same old resentful thoughts that lead you to the same old resentful place. And you haven’t done the hard work to get to the other side of resentment.

And it was true. Resentment’s easy. Finding new meaning’s hard. It demands that we rethink the situation and ourselves in it. That we force ourselves to see what we might not readily see. That we find freedom in a new perspective.

Reluctantly, I bid farewell to the snake pit. And, fumbling along, I began to recast the garden project as a chance to hone my management chops. It wasn’t my finest work. But it’s the work I think we must do.

After all, what we give up in resentment, we gain in freedom.

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