Most of us have carried a resentment against someone for something they did or didn’t do that upset us. Yesterday, at a church meeting, someone who said they would bring cookies and lemonade, but didn’t do it. I immediately felt angry that the group had been mis-served in that way; especially the newcomers. I tried to hide that I was angry but didn’t do very well.
Without raising my voice, I pointed out to the group and to her that she hadn’t done what she said she would do.
I remembered too late that I am not her shepherd, God is. She and I have different temperaments and priorities. She has wonderful gifts that I do not have. But I wasn’t thinking any of that at the time. I let my emotion get the better of my thinking-brain.
I saw afterward that it was not helpful to her, the group, or to myself to let it bother me and to show how I felt by the look on my face.
St. Paul to the rescue
Then, in the scripture I was reading this morning, God put this in front of me: “Jesus Christ…was never anything but “yes” (2 Cor 1:19). This was worth pondering, so I asked, “Lord, how can I be like Jesus Christ and be “yes” and not “no”? How do I overcome the urge to resent people who don’t do things my way, and then make sure they know I’m not happy about it?
Typical of God, he gave me the answer a few lines later: “Domineering over your faith is not my purpose. I prefer to work with you toward your happiness” (2 Cor 1:24).
Okay God, I thought, maybe I can do this—to let You guide people as you see fit and allow what You see fit—while I focus on working toward the happiness of everyone I meet. Maybe this is my ticket to more peace, less regret, and closer union with You.
But God wasn’t finished with me yet. As I was absorbing Paul’s words and beginning to understand why I want to stop being resentful, God put a cherry on top in the next thing Paul said:
“If anyone has given offense, he has hurt not only me, but in some measure every one of you. The punishment already inflicted by the majority on such a one is enough; you should now relent and support him so that he may not be crushed by too great a weight of sorrow. I therefore beg you to reaffirm your love for him” (2 Cor 2:5-8).
So I did that later the same day. I sent the person an email congratulating her for some great work she did in another area. Thanks to the words of St. Paul just when I needed them, I was able to avoid making it any worse or prolonging the pain. Or as Paul put it, “Any forgiving I have done has been for your sakes and, before Christ, to prevent Satan—whose guile we know too well—from outwitting us” (2 Cor 2:10-11).
Yes, I learned a little about the enemy’s deceitfulness after he convinced me that I was judge and jury of another person and I fell for it. Like Peter, I sank when my trust in God wavered. But thanks to St. Paul, the Lord pulled me back into the boat, dried me off, and sent me on my way with a loving smile and a reminder: “Why did you doubt?” (Mt 13:41).