Secondhand resentment

I almost always write a new blog on a Tuesday or Thursday morning. That’s when I have time to sit, reflect, read, and listen for God’s promptings. Today is Saturday and it is 4:17PM. So who knows how this is going to turn out. But I have something on my mind that I am guessing might also be on your mind, if not today, then for sure in the next few days.

I know this because next week is Thanksgiving, and I have already begun to hear the rumblings of dread around me.

Most people will be spending that holiday with at least a couple people who might fall into the “extra grace required” category. If you are disagreeing with me right now, there’s a slight chance that you might be that person. 😉

A few days ago I was talking with some friends about their Thanksgiving plans and how a few of them were less than enthusiastic about the environment they would be in; one that is expected but not necessarily chosen.

Their anxiety was not about the people they did like, it was about the fact that so-and-so had a resentment toward/hated/was mad at/wasn’t speaking to so-and-so….sooooo they were already feeling wound up about the tension that would permeate the day.

That’s when I coined a new term for this type of angst:

You might be suffering from this if the issues between others have zero to do with you but you hold onto resentment and withhold forgiveness on behalf of someone you care about.

Your mom said something to hurt your sister and you withhold affection from your mom out of solidarity to your sister.

Your brother borrowed money from your parents and never paid them back and you are defensive and snarky on their behalf.

Your husband didn’t like what your uncle said to him about politics at the last get together so you spend your day trying to keep peace between them.

You get the idea. None of these scenarios should steal your serenity, but you let it. You let the “sludge of the grudge” weigh heavy on your heart. You are just counting down the hours before you can escape the tension.

person picking food on tray
Photo by Craig Adderley on

But maybe, just maybe, you could try to do it differently this year.

This year, you could try focusing on yourself.

Your emotional sobriety.

Remind yourself (possibly hundreds of times on that particular day) that regardless of what others do or say, have done or have said to those you love, you are accountable and responsible for what you do or say.

We don’t get a pass for bad behavior or reckless words because someone else has wounded someone we love. Even when we think they deserve it, we have to keep our side of the street clean.

The best strategy I have found to get me through a situation where I know I will be tested and tempted to act out, is to establish my PRIMARY PURPOSE ahead of time and stick to it.

For me, when I spend the day with my family, my PRIMARY PURPOSE is to be the best wife, mom, sister, aunt and daughter-in-law I can be. Period.

I don’t have to meddle in the business of others and interfere in their relational drama.

That’s not my job.

I don’t have to convince anyone that my way or my beliefs are better than anyone else’s.

Again, fill in the blank: Not my ________.

When I know what my PRIMARY PURPOSE is I can relax and let life happen.

I can do my job and let God do His.

Isn’t that nice of me? 😬

For help with managing your holidays, check out all the blogs I have written on forgiveness, expectations, resentment and for a special treat, revisit my past blog called “Let’s Talk About Trump”

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