Getting Rid of Resentment
In my previous story in this lovely blog of mine, I talked of how guilt has hindered me from enjoying solitude. The other emotion that has prevented me from enjoying my own company when alone that I didn't mention in the story is resentment.
Well, there have been people who have stolen my property, spoken rudely to me or treated me unfairly. And when I sometimes think about those people and how devilishly they acted towards me, I feel resentment towards them.
I know the godly among us would advise me, "Thuita, just forgive them and forget what they did to you."
Okay, I am alive to the fact that forgiveness is honourable. But what makes forgiveness hard and difficult is that it is more about feeling it in the heart than proclaiming it by word of mouth. Sometimes we can decide to forgive someone only for resentment to re-surface in our souls when we think of how evil that person was to us. Ha! That reminds me of the following poem I came across in John F. Kennedy's Profiles in Courage :
Yes, forgiving others is hard and difficult because it is more about feeling it in the heart that declaring it with our mouths.
There was a [dog] once so long
He hadn't any notion
How long it took to notify
His tail of an emotion.
And so it happened, while his eyes
Were full of woe and sadness,
His little tail went wagging on
Because of previous gladness. 
All the same, carrying resentment in our hearts is unhealthy for our souls. Will Smith, the Hollywood movie star, observed: "Throughout life, people will make you mad, disrespect you and treat you bad. Let God deal with the things they do 'cause hate in your heart will consume you too."
Then the inspirational Book of Sirach in the Catholic Bible beautifully captures it this way in Sirach 30:22-25:
Resentment is, I repeat, unhealthy for our souls. So as for me, I have decided to exorcise it from my soul by consciously getting rid of any thought that may breed hatred. Like Booker T. Washington put it, I will permit no one to narrow and degrade my soul by making me hate them. Or as Martin Luther King once said, I will let no one pull me so low as to hate him. Adieu!
Gladness of heart is the very life of a person,
and cheerfulness prolongs his days.
Distract yourself and renew your courage,
drive resentment far away from you;
For grief has killed many,
and nothing is to be gained from resentment.
Envy and anger shorten one's days,
and anxiety brings on premature old age.
Those who are cheerful and merry at table
benefit from their food.
 I have extracted this poem from Profiles in Courage by John F. Kennedy, published in 1955 by Harper & Brothers.
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Allow me, my dear reader, to begin my story by asking you a question: "When you are alone in your room or out there in the streets walking, do you enjoy your own company?"
As for me, I sometimes have enjoyed my own company when alone. But at other times, the emotion of guilt has hindered me from doing so.
I vividly recall my first experience with guilt. That was one day in 2009. I had been discharged from JKUAT hospital and was considering of dropping out the university after the engineering course I was pursuing turned out to be Greek to me.
The evening of that day, I felt very guilty for no apparent reason. It was like I was at war with myself. My friend Sammy Murong'a tried to cheer me up by taking me for a walk during which I pretended to be interested in whatever he was saying. I found his company a much needed escape from the turmoil that was simmering within me.
That same year in 2009 when I decided to re-apply to three top American colleges, I would at times feel guilty when coming from revising for the SAT exam in Nairobi. Some voices within me would tell me that people were laughing at me for applying to top American colleges for the third time when my age-mates were in their third year at the university. Whenever I felt such guilt, I would look forward to when I would get home so that I could collapse on a seat and read Myles Munroe's The Principles and Power of Vision which I had found very encouraging.
Then later on in 2010, a guilt complex seized me when I turned up for choir practice at All Saints Cathedral in Nairobi. Imagine I felt so guilty that on my way back home, I avoided walking on some streets in Nairobi for fear of meeting people I know. It was like I was running away from people who weren't pursuing me.
And then in 2011, I felt horribly guilty as I left the University of Nairobi's clinic where I had been admitted after I foolishly sent messages to my family that I wouldn't go back home. That time, I felt like the whole world was criticizing and laughing at me.
Over the years since 2011, I have continued to experience recurring emotions of guilt which have hindered me from enjoying my own company. Of late, I have been striving to overcome them by talking to myself affirmatively: that I am a wonderful person. Different ... yes. Imperfect ... certainly. But nonetheless valuable.
I will continue talking to myself affirmatively. By talking to myself, I mean the mental conversations I hold with myself all day long. My goal is to enjoy my own company, now and always, whether I am alone in my room or out there in the streets walking. So help me God.
If you've liked this story of mine on enjoying solitude, you might also like another one I wrote sometimes back on "Slaying the Dragon of Guilt." Just click on that link in blue to jump straight into the story.