4th Watch 22: The High Cost of Resentment
This podcast is a follow up to my previous one on the “false dichotomy of Truth.” If you haven’t listened to it I suggest you do so because this will make more sense if you do.
Real truth or false truth…false truth? How can a truth be false? Well, that’s why you need to listen to my previous podcast. It explains how “truth” can be manipulated to put forth an agenda that can distort and even completely misrepresent the original intent or understanding of just about anything. Think, Dihydrogen Monoxide!
As always in my podcasts I tend to add many colorful alliterations that do not appear in the text of this blog. Therefore one’s listening experience may differ from just reading the printed words. J
What does this have to do with resentment? Good question. Resentments can arise from what we perceive to be the truth but then learn that we were deceived, cheated or betrayed in trusting whatever it is at the time. Now, when it comes to religion trust is paramount. We’re talking about God here and not some misleading advertising for a new and improved product.
I saw a gas station sign that listed three types of gas. Regular, Plus and “V” Power. Plus? What’s plus. This is gasoline. What are you going to put in it? Dynamite? V Power? What the heck is V Power? Is it better than H Power? What about X Power?
Worse than gas grades that are less than clear I witnessed a car that had a really strange placard on its side that said “Blue Drive.” Blue Drive? What the #@ll is Blue Drive? Is it better than Red Drive or Green Drive? Wouldn’t White Drive be more clean and wholesome? What’s worse is what kind of gas do you put in a Blue Drive car? Plus or “V” Power? The cloud of nebulous advertisements boggle the mind.
There are things in life more important than what kind of car you drive and what type of gas you fuel it with. Resentments over such trivial illustrations are useless. Someone’s always going to have the next deluxe XB-134 super thing. So, let’s move on to something more important in life like religion and God.
Like I said before, trust is paramount and when we feel that trust has been violated, resentment can set in. Bishop so and so did this or that. Stake president “X” who my brother works for was caught doing…fill in the blank…I heard that Joseph Smith had lots of wives and some as young as fourteen. Brigham Young said that…another fill in the blank from one of his un-prophet like utterances…the list is extensive for what we thought we knew but latter learn was not the “whole” truth.
At this point I would like to illustrate this concept with a personal experience. A long time ago, in a Mormon colony far, far away I learned that Joseph Smith had in his possession several what we call today “Seer Stones.” They were used by the prophet on various occasions to translate the word of God that would become the cannon of the Church or as we would say today. The “Holy Scriptures.” I saw these devices as some kind of mystical connection with God that allowed the one who was authorized to use the stones to come somehow into Gods presence and commune with the divine. Some super engineered and crafted substance beyond our earthly experience and understood only by God himself. Anybody else held this view of the “seer Stones?” Well, just recently the Church published an article in the Ensign magazine about the seer stone. I’m providing this link if you would like to read it. Yeah, so what? Well, when I first looked at the picture I viewed it through the lens of my God created “super” stone. As I continued looking at it I realized that it was just a rock. It only took about fifteen to twenty seconds for my mind to adjust. It took much longer for my heart and soul to adjust. It’s a rock!
Sometimes our perceptions create our reality and my reality had to change when faced with this new information. It can be painful. Much like the stages of grief. First is denial and were not talking about the river in Egypt. Second, anger and this is where a lot of people stay when it comes to having their existing world view injured. Next, bargaining. Let’s make a deal here! Then depression. How can I go on knowing that my previous view of “whatever” was a lie? Lastly, acceptance. Many people never get to acceptance because the past can’t be wrong. It was cast in stone. If it was cast in sand then how can we trust anything? Ahhhhh…It’s this the all or nothing, black and white world view that can destroy you.
Let’ get back to the rock seer stone. I still don’t like the fact that the seer stone is just a rock. I want it to be something like the stone mentioned in the Book of Revelation 2:17
He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.
A heavenly secret stone? Cool…but what if this is just a representation of a principle and not a “real” stone? Not so cool. My perception of heavenly things might need an adjustment in this case. The little kid inside of me wants the super power stone to be real but the adult inside says, “It’s time to grow up and move beyond magic rocks.”
It’s been the worst day sense yesterday. Doesn’t have to be though. We can choose to let go of our past pre-conceived notions of how the world works and move forward. Now, how do we do that?
Let’s look at an example from the scriptures. Jacob in the Old Testament had twelve sons and his favorite was Joseph. See Genesis chapter 37 for all the details. In this account we learn that family issues can lead to serious resentment. Joseph’s brothers conspired to kill him. Sounds like serious resentment to me. What caused it? Could be that they knew that their father favored Joseph over them. Perhaps Joseph had an attitude about that and kept throwing it in their faces on a regular basis. Well, it got to the point of “we need to kill him” for whatever reason. They couldn’t go through with so they sold him into slavery and smeared blood all over this “special coat of many colors” and told their father that some beast/s had killed him and I presume carried off his body so there were no remains to morn and bury.
Time passed. Joseph was sold in Egypt and put into the house of Potiphar who was said to the captain of the palace guard. If you’re going to be a slave this might have not been a bad job. He could have been sold to some garment maker who treated him, well…like a slave.
He did so well in Potiphar’s house that he put Joseph in charge of everything except of course Potiphar’s wife. She had other ideas though. She wanted him but he was not going to indulge her. Guess what the consequences were for sleeping with the master’s wife? DEATH! Just like most things for a slave who did not behave properly.
When Joseph refused her things got ugly. Remember the phrase? Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. That was Potiphar’s wife. She accused Joseph of trying to force himself on her. Potiphar knew better. He wasn’t a stupid man. You think this was the first time something like this happened? I don’t think so. He also knew the character of Joseph. You think he would jeopardize his standing by doing something so foolish? I don’t think so. So, Brother Ned what makes you say this? There is nothing in the text about this. Your right but he was sent to jail instead of being executed which means to me that Potiphar knew the real story. I also think he had a conversation with the head jailer about what kind of man Joseph was and to treat him accordingly.
Did they have different levels of jail back in the day? I would think so because Joseph was sent to the incarceration facility where the kings prisoners like the cupbearer and the baker were residing at the time. The cupbearer and the baker had dreams they couldn’t understand. Joseph inquired of the Lord and received interpretations for both of them. The butler or cupbearer got his job back. The baker? Didn’t work out so well for him. Standard penalty. Death.
Joseph ask the cupbearer to remember him when he got his job back but he forgot Joseph. Day after day. Month after month. No word from the palace. At this point in Joseph’s life I wonder what his resentment level was. His brothers tried to kill him but sold him into slavery instead. Sent to jail for unjust reasons. Another day. Another month. Another “year.”
Bricks of bitterness could have been built into walls of resentment so thick that nothing could break them down. Didn’t happen that way though. The Lord was with him. Day after day. Month after month. Year after year. Then one day Pharaoh had a dream that no one could interpret. The cupbearer then remembered Joseph and his ability to interpret dreams and mentioned it to his master. Pharaoh had him cleaned up and brought before the court of Pharaoh’s judgment. Pharaoh explained his dream and ask for the interpretation thereof. Penalty for wrong interpretation? Death. No stress here. What if he had allowed his resentment to cloud or interfere with his relationship with the Lord? Didn’t happen though.
Interpretation of said dream? Seven years of plenty for Egypt and then seven years of drought / famine. Save during the good years for the bad years to come. Pharaoh was so impressed with this interpretation that he made Joseph second in command in all of Egypt. Second only to Pharaoh himself. Gave him the big house and a wife. Things were looking up for this former slave.
During the good years under Joseph’s command stockpiles are created and then the famines hit. The whole region is effected including Jacob’s family. Jacob sends out some of his sons to go and buy some gain in Egypt. What do you think Joseph’s first thoughts were when he saw his brothers? I know what my first thoughts would have been. Well, well, well, look who’s here. If it isn’t my traitorous brothers groveling for food. It’s payback time! This could have been his first thoughts but if they were they didn’t last that long. Long story short. The whole family was brought to Egypt and they lived happily ever after. Maybe. The part I would like to focus on is not told in the scriptures. Are you listening? Say Amen…what was Jacob’s reaction when he learned the truth of how Joseph wound up in Egypt? We don’t know that story. How would you react? I don’t think it’s possible to heal that level of pain without the Lord. I would venture to say that the healing process did not happen overnight. Like most things in life serious injuries to both body and spirit takes time to heal.
Some time ago I worked at a Christian radio station and was “forced” to listen to the programing. Day after day. Week after week and month after month. It was a great hobby job were I learned much about the differences in protestant theological teachings. I also had Christian music implanted into my system as part of this broadcasting experience. Yeah, so what? We’re not interested in Brother Ned’s history with apostate associates. Well, you just might be after listening to this song. It was done in 1984 by a group known as “White Heart.” The title of the song is seventy times seven. Its message has never gone away. It has lasted for over two thousand years. Tell me if its fits.
What about today and our injuries? Proverbs 18:19, A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city: and their contentions are like the bars of a castle. It is easy to become offended. Personal experience. Been there. Done that. Got lots of T-shirts to prove it. In some circumstances frustration, anger and throwing a fit are standard and average responses but we don’t have to hold on to them. Over time we can let go. Do you really want to carry around bricks of bitterness? Rhetorical question of course but how many bricks do you have in your backpack right now? What would happen if you made the choice to lay them down? A lighter load in life perhaps. Better health?
Forgiveness is the key. We can choose to let go. The more you practice it the easier it becomes just like most things in life. When you first start to let go you will be surprised how fast those bricks jumps right back into your bag. Just lay it down again and walk away. This time it will run after you and start complaining because of abandonment. Again, you have the right to choose what you will hold onto in life. The more you let it go the longer it takes to wind its way back until it no longer catches up with you.
Now, most things in life are NOT deliberate attempts to get you like the story of Joseph in Egypt. His brothers were out to get him and they almost succeeded. It appears that they repented of the evil they had done and Joseph forgave them. Probably didn’t happen as an event but took place over time. We can do the same “if” we want to. This is something you really have to want to do because Satan wants you to hold on to every brick of resentment you can carry. Put those bricks back! They deserve your bitterness…whoever they or it is at the time. How much do you want to suffer and for how long? Less suffering and shorter time is good for me. How about you?
In the Church this brick holding resentment can become real painful. Again, personal experience. I was deceived! I was…fill in the blank. I don’t doubt the experience or your pain. What I want to do is help you let go of the pain. This may even require the help of professional counselors but let me be extremely clear here. It can be done, over time.
I keep going back to the story of how much time it took for Jacob to get over his resentment concerning his own sons. What if his sons had not repented? Oh, that would been a bad day or a lifetime for Jacob. Still the choice would have still been there for him. Hold on to the resentment or let it go. I would think that if they had not repented his resentment would have turned into sadness and that sadness would have given rise to the possibility of his son’s future repentance. That would have given him hope. Isn’t that what we want? Hope for the future.
The day will come when all things will be made right. That day is not here yet but we are on the way to it “if” we choose. Romans 8:28, And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose. So what is His purpose? The gospel message is clear on this one. To bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. Moses 1:39. But how does resentment fit into this purpose? It is our choice. The moral choice to forgive. I think sometimes what we want in life is mercy for ourselves and justice for just about everyone else. That sound about right? But I just can’t let go! (forget me stick clip). Perhaps you could use the “forget me stick” to break up the bricks of bitterness that build the walls of resentment. You could turn you back on them. Walk away. Whatever imagery works best for you. This moral choice to give up our resentment can and will free us from continued suffering in this life and the life to come. Hold on to it and it will follow us into the next life where the suffering will continue until we choose to give it up and receive God’s grace.
I would like to close with the words of brother Dieter F. Uchtdorf. Second counselor in the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“Each of us is under a divinely spoken obligation to reach out with pardon and mercy and to forgive one another. There is a great need for this Christ like attribute in our families, in our marriages, in our wards and stakes, in our communities, and in our nations. We will receive the joy of forgiveness in our own lives when we are willing to extend that joy freely to others. Lip service is not enough. We need to purge our hearts and minds of feelings and thoughts of bitterness and let the light and the love of Christ enter in. As a result, the Spirit of the Lord will fill our souls with the joy accompanying divine peace of conscience.” ― Dieter F. Uchtdorf
The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are the sole responsibility of the speaker and may not represent those of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or that of FairMormon.