Well, I promised to let you know in two weeks about praying for those I resent, so here's my report.
This notion was first introduced to me when I first started following the path of those who had taken "certain steps" in recovering from alcoholism. Those steps, as described in the book "Alcoholics Anonymous," are now widely known as the Twelve Steps, and a variety of Twelve Step programs has been the result. (Some would call it an industry, though if it is, it sure doesn't support many people financially.)
I recommend the approach for the truly desperate who feel they have tried pretty much everything else without success. It's not an easy path to follow! But it has bettered the lives of many.
Like most people I've met on this path, I was full of resentment against others when I began. As I described in my posting two weeks ago, their actions seemed entirely wrong, their motives suspect.
Fortunately, people with more experience along the path offered to help guide me. Even more fortunately, I was desperate enough to listen. If I wanted to recover, I had to set aside my arrogance, at least temporarily.
So when I was ready to hear, someone suggested that I pray for those I resent. I went along. My first prayers were quite simple: "God, give them what they deserve." I did not mean that in a favorable sense.
After a few days of this, I found that my resentment had changed into something else, as had my prayer. Now it was, "God, take care of them." And while I often meant that in the Mafia sense, I didn't always. After two solid weeks, I was able to pray for God to remove my resentment and guide them on their own paths.
I was, to say the least, shocked at the effectiveness of this approach. The basic literature of Alcoholics Anonymous puts it well when describing Step Eleven: "It has been well said that 'almost the only scoffers at prayer are those who never tried it enough.'" I decided to keep trying it.
Soon enough, I recognized several things: (1) my resentment didn't hurt them, (2) it did hurt me, (3) I was giving my resentments a lot of room in my head, (4) I needed to allocate more room to the good things in life.
So this week my prayer list includes:
- People using the Twelve Steps to recover
- People still suffering
- Those who have helped me along the way
- Those who I think have tried to hinder me
One good result of this two-week process is that I get sick of my resentments. That allows me to set them aside and focus on my own life. And when I am able to do that, I find I have more than enough to do -- like writing this blog -- and the resentment fades from memory.
Now what was my topic this week?