The Playground

I used to be great friends with Resentment.  It was my constant companion.  I had a whole long list of things to be resentful about, and I felt pretty justified in my self-righteous anger at the hand I was dealt.  Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a terrible hand that I was dealt.  I have a pretty great life with a husband who provides, and two great boys.  We don’t have any major money issues.  We have had no major health issues, which I am so grateful for.  We haven’t had to deal with unemployment.  I have wonderful friends who I know would be there for me in a moments notice.  So who was I to be dissatisfied with this life that God had granted me with?  Most of my resentment stemmed from my marriage.  I thought I had married my soul mate, but the real life version of marriage was not meeting the version of marriage that I had in my head.  Every time I felt like this man of mine let me down – every time he didn’t call to tell me he would be late getting home; when I didn’t feel heard by him; when he made work his priority; when he didn’t communicate with me about what was going on in his life; when we would fight and he would walk away in frustration, my resentment would grow. In her book The Mended Heart, Suzanne Eller refers to the Playground of our Mind.  For me, this playground is where Resentment lives, and I would go there to rehash the wrongs that I felt like this man of mine had done to me.  If we had a fight, I would run to the playground and go over and over what he had said; what I should have said back, and how obviously I was so much more right than he was. Instead of being calmed down by my visit to the playground, my conversations with Resentment only served to keep my hurt and anger at the forefront of my mind so that the next time we had an argument or he said or did something that hurt me, it would just build on that last time.  I spent so much time at the playground that it got to the point that this man of mine would look at me wrong and I was instantly angry.  I had pretty much set up camp in the playground.  I had my tent and my sleeping bag and my jars of food.  I had a two-man tent so Resentment would have a place to sleep too.  Turns our Resentment was not a very fun companion.  Resentment and Joy are like oil and vinegar, and there wasn’t enough room in our little tent for Joy too, so Joy eventually left to wait for me outside of the playground.  The funny thing is that this playground where I had set up camp has a fence around it, but the door was wide open, so I could have left whenever I wanted.  I was not being held prisoner.  I was there of my own free accord.  All I had to do was walk out, but that meant leaving Resentment behind, and even though it was toxic, I was reluctant to leave it.  In my mind, Resentment had become my way of trying to get what I wanted from life.  It was my twisted version of hope, and without it, would things ever change?  I struggled with leaving that playground.  It was familiar,  and how could I trust that things would actually be better on the other side of that fence?  Ultimately, it took having someone standing on the other side of the fence to keep calling me to come out.  Come out!  Come out of the playground so you can experience the freedom and Joy of life without Resentment!  You won’t regret it! So one day, I finally did it.  I walked out of the playground.  I stood on the other side of the fence and I gave Resentment a final wave goodbye.  And you know what? Joy was waiting for me.  She grabbed my hand, stretched her arms wide and we jumped and ran and played.  My playground is still there.  Resentment is still camping out, and there are times when I will walk close to the fence and wave.  There are times when I may even go inside and say hello, but I don’t stay long, because it turns out that Resentment will never get me what I want out of life, and Joy is a much better companion. If you have set up camp in the playground of your mind, come out!  Come out!  You won’t regret it!

playground

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