“Put me like a seal over your heart,
Like a seal on your arm.
For love is as strong as death…
Song of Solomon 8:6
A TIME TO LOVE, AND A TIME TO HATE
12″ X 12” ENAMEL ON BOARD
COCAINE OF THE EMOTIONS
By Max Lucado, The Applause of Heaven, 1990, pp. 107-112
Do you have a hole in your heart? Perhaps the wound is old.
A parent abused you. A teacher slighted you. A mate betrayed you. A business partner bailed you out, leaving a choice of bills or bankruptcy.
And you are angry.
And you are hurt.
And you are left with a decision. “Do I put the fire out or heat it up? Do I get over it or get even? Do I release it or resent it? Do I let my hurts heal, or do I let hurt turn into hate?”
That’s a good definition of resentment: Resentment is when you let your hurt become hate. Resentment is when you allow what is eating you to eat you up. Resentment is when you poke, stoke, feed, and fan the fire, stirring the flames and reliving the pain.
Resentment is the deliberate decision to nurse the offense. It’s not enough to accuse; the other person’s character must be attacked. It’s insufficient to point a finger; a rifle must be aimed. Slander is slung. Names are called. Circles are drawn. Walls are built. And enemies are made.
Is this the way you are coping with your hurts? Are you allowing your hurts to turn into hates? If so, ask yourself: Is it working? Has your hatred done you any good? Has your resentment brought you any relief, any peace? Has it granted you any joy?
Let’s say you get even. Let’s say you get him back. Let’s say she gets what she deserves. Let’s say your fantasy of fury runs its ferocious course and you return all your pain with interest. Imagine yourself standing over the corpse of the one you have hated. Will you now be free?
The writer of the following letter thought she would be. She thought her revenge would bring release. But she learned otherwise.
“I caught my husband making love to another woman. He swore it would never happen again. He begged me to forgive him, but I could not – I would not. I was so bitter and so incapable of swallowing my pride that I could not think of nothing but revenge. I was going to make him pay and pay dearly. I’d have my pound of flesh.”
I filed for divorce, even though my children begged me not to.
Even after the divorce, my husband tried for two years to win me back. I refused to have anything to do with him. He had struck first; now I was striking back. All I wanted was to make him pay.
Finally he gave up and married a lovely young widow with a couple of small children. He began rebuilding his life – without me.
I see them occasionally, and he looks so happy. They all do. And here I am – a lonely, old, miserable woman who allowed her selfish pride and foolish stubbornness to ruin her life.”
Unfaithfulness is wrong. Revenge is bad. But the worst part of all is that, without forgiveness, bitterness is all that is left.
Resentment is the cocaine of the emotions. It causes our blood to pump our enegy level to rise. But, also like cocaine, it demands increasingly larger and more frequent dosages.
There is a dangerous point at which anger ceases to be an emotion and becomes a driving force. A person bent on revenge moves unknowingly further and further away from being able to forgive, for to be without the anger is to be without the energy.
That explains why the bitter complain to anyone who will listen. They want – they need – to have their fire fanned. That helps explain the existence of the KKK, the skinheads, and other hate organizations. Members of these groups feed each other’s anger. And that is why the resentful often appear unreasonable. They are addicted to their bitterness. They don’t want to surrender their anger, for to do so would be to surrender their reason to live.
Take bigotry from the racist, and what does he have left? Remove revenge from the heart of the zealot, and her life is empty. Extract chauvinism from the radical sexist, and what remains?
Resentment is like cocaine in another way, too. Cocaine can kill the addict. And anger can kill the angry.
It can kill physically. Chronic anger has been linked with elevated cholesterol, high blood pressure, and other deadly conditions. It can kill emotionally, in that it can raise anxiety levels and lead to depression. And it can be spiritually fatal, too. It shrivels the soul.
Hatred is the rabid dog that turns on its owner. Revenge is the raging fire that consumes the arsonist. Bitterness is the trap that snares the hunter.
And mercy is the choice that can set them all free.
CAN LOVE BE AS STRONG AS DEATH? Tell us what you think and write them on the comments section below.