Defeating the Goliath of Anger and Resentment
Has anger or resentment ever benefited anybody? No! Particularly not the one who has the issue. But how do we let go of anger, and why should we when it seems justified?
Let's look at a well-known story in the Bible for an answer -- David and Goliath. David is a small young man, and Goliath is a huge Philistine. They go out to meet in one-to-one battle. Goliath is fully armed and is wearing a full set of mail. David takes nothing with him but the clothing he wears, a sling, and five smooth stones. Taking one stone, he slings it at Goliath and kills him instantly. "Take that, you over-sized brute!" I'm pretty sure that is NOT what David said when he slew Goliath.
What enabled David to defeat Goliath?
David's humility and his cool, calm trust in God kept him confident in the ability God had given him to do good and protect his people.
We can think of
- ourselves as David,
- anger and/or resentment as Goliath, and
- the five smooth stones as representing qualities of God, which we always "carry" with us or express.
What qualities are needed most to defeat anger and resentment? Forgiveness? Love? Joy, loyalty, flexibility, tolerance, strength, understanding? There's a whole bunch of qualities from which to choose. David chucked one stone -- one God-derived quality -- and Goliath toppled over dead.
What a lot of people don't know is that after he struck him with the stone, David went and lopped off Goliath's head to prove he was dead. He addressed the problem head on, finished it off, and moved on.
If we don't destroy anger and resentment, then we are opening the door for them to destroy us. From experience, I saw how anger and resentment turned me into someone I didn't recognize as me. I learned how to let go of anger and resentment.
I'm currently in my freshman year of high school. I had a really close friend from middle school, but we'd been drifting apart slowly. Near the beginning of this year, we got into a huge fight. For a week or two, she had not treated my sister or me very nicely. I didn't understand what was going on. I was angry at my friend and resentful of the girl who had taken my place as her friend. It didn't help my case that I was miffed at my sister for a mistake that brought me into the conflict. My friend and I didn't talk for two to three weeks. It was pure torture. It was hard for me to cope.
Not long after, my sister and the friend started talking again, but we still weren't. I got even more upset. Then through emails, we began to understand each other. We made up, and it was all a happy enough ending. We're never going to be as close as we were, but we are friends again.
But I never really lost the anger and resentment towards my replacement. It really wasn't until I started writing this and thinking about things from the Bible to share with others that I realized that I had to take my own advice. I now feel that I've lost the anger and resentment towards the girl who became the new friend. I've forgiven both.
So, how did I get over the anger and resentment? How can we conquer our Goliaths?
- Jesus tells us, "Love your enemies" (Matt 5:44 KJV). So I needed to love my enemies; turn the other cheek (Matt 5:39) ... it all just clicked.
- I also realized that my friend and I have our own paths to follow. If our paths don't run together, we can't force them to be the same. But we can love our friends and always be ready to help and provide our shoulders for them to lean on.
- Another fact that helped me through this time is that neither anger nor resentment is naturally a part of my nature. I didn't feel like me when I was angry and resentful. These negative feelings aren't really part of anyone. If they're not part of us, it's easy to let go of them.
I did let go of my resentment and anger. It's a good feeling to conquer Goliath.
Now, there is the argument that taking anger out on someone or something makes you feel better. Well, it shouldn't, and if it does, it's short-lived. Usually, it just intensifies the problem. Violence isn't the answer. It just gets people into trouble. That really doesn't help anyone, does it?
Another argument is that someone might have a legitimate cause to be angry or resentful at another. Let's remember Jesus' words from the Bible:
But I say to you that everyone who continues to be angry with his brother or harbors malice (enmity of heart) against him shall be liable to and unable to escape the punishment imposed by the court…. (Matt 5:22 AMP)
It's so important not to take things personally – not to take offense. Ever! It's taken me a really long time to learn this (and I'm still learning). Regardless of whether an insulting or mean remark or action is meant or not, we don't have to accept the bait.
A story I heard one time ties in really well with this. There once was a man who never took offense, never got angry or resentful. Well, a man heard about him and decided to visit him for a while. While he was a guest, he tried everything he could to make him upset, angry, jealous … anything. He couldn't get one bad feeling to show up on his face or in his mouth or through his body language. Finally, the man gave up. He asked, "How is it you never get angry or anything?" The man replied with a question, "If someone offers you a gift, and you choose not to accept it, whose gift is it?"
We don't have to accept a gift that isn't ours. Anger and resentment aren't ours. They are Goliaths that need to be defeated. How do we do this? Jesus gave us lots of stones:
But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven…. (Matt 5:44-5 KJV)
- Do good
- Be the children of God, which we already are!
When we do these things, Goliaths just don't stand a chance.