If you’ve read some of my other articles, you’ll notice I’m a fan of writing articles based on my own experiences or opinions. And this one is no different. And it’s likely to be just as difficult and controversial as some of my other topics. Let’s start with the background story.
My father was 52 when I was born, so we already had challenges to share with the generation difference. It was like growing up with a grandparent who’d forgotten they were supposed to spoil you. Growing up during the war years, Dad was big on the idea of himself being the ‘man of the house’. But by the time I was a young child, he was already retired and my mum became the ‘man of the house’.
As my dad has grown older and his illnesses have started taking over his body, he has become difficult to live with. He doesn’t ask us to do things, he demands them. He often forgets to (or doesn’t care to) say please and thank you. And nothing we ever do is good enough.
Still, being a small while from 30, I feel like I have given my dad some of the best years of my life. Mum and I have provided him full time care, with me working full time to support them. When dad gets in a mood and complains about everything, I start to feel angry.
Love your parents
God tells us to love, respect and obey our parents. But how do we do this when they make our lives so difficult? Why should I love, respect and obey someone who doesn’t love and respect me? That’s not very fair at all...it’s just not fair! And as I say this, I’m reminded that Jesus loves us when we don’t show our love to him, through our respect and obedience of him.
So somehow, I need to balance God’s directive to us to love and obey our parents with our human desires for repayment and anger. And I know from my own experience, this is not easy. But nothing God asks of us is easy.
I resent my parent
I have often felt guilty that I resent my father. My mind reminds me that it’s because of the things he didn’t do (and some he did) that he’s in the state he is. I could have had an easier life if he’d done the right thing. But again, I’m reminded of Jesus’ model of love – let the first to throw a stone be free from sin. And I find myself dropping my hypothetical stone in the face of my own sins. I remember the things both my parents have done to help me out. From homework help to the several thousand dollar professional quality flute they bought.
It’s very easy for me to get very angry at dad’s condition...and this in itself is its own sin. What right do I have to be angry with him? It is not me suffering his conditions and symptoms. And it is not me who has been offended by their refusal to keep to my word. Anger belongs only to God. There are many things they could be angry at me for but they aren’t. I have no right being the pretentious child. Judgment is God’s and I should not judge lest I also be judged.
And on top of that, I am also guilty of doing similar things as dad. I have been diagnosed with diabetes but I continue to eat the way I was before my diagnosis. I often miss some important tablets and my friends and family have to put up with the side effects. I complain about being unhealthy and unfit while I’m sitting on the couch with a chocolate bar...how different are we really?
Moving past resentment
Let me be the first to say, moving past resentment is not easy. The devil thrives on our negative emotions, so just as we feel we finally forgive them, he whispers “but what about having to stay home from the party and look after him” and suddenly you’re angry all over again.
So how do we move on from resentment? How do we beat the negative whispering of the devil that seems to stir up our wrath? Quite simply, with God. The only way we can do this is with God’s help. We do this by using His word to understand His grace and forgiveness of our sins, by examining the stories of those who have wronged others and how they came to forgiveness, and finally by looking at why we are angry and resentful and what it really means. Often our resentment of others is as a direct result of our own challenges and feelings.
Sometimes your resentment will never be resolved with the person it’s directed at. This is ok, providing you resolve your resentment through God. It’s ok when we still feel angry after a person has passed. But our resentment hurts God, as He made us for love and not hate. So fess up and tell God you are angry and resent whoever it is. Allow Him into your heart and give up your resentment.
A final note
Feeling resentful to someone is natural for the fallen human. Please don’t beat yourself up when you have this feeling. Take the time to tell God how you feel and why. And then take the time to listen to His response, how He wants you to tackle your challenge and His reminder of how much He loves you. And one day, you’ll suddenly find your resentment has dissipated and you can move on in love.
Emma is a full-time admin worker with a passion for Christ and an interest in reading, writing and music.
Emma Seabrook's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/emma-seabrook.html