How do I get over resentment and anger?
The meaning of resentment as defined by the Talmud
The Talmud says that when one becomes angry, it is as if he serves idols. This is not mere hyperbole meant to make a point. Quite literally, anger is a rejection of God and lack of faith. If one believes that everything in this world comes from God and that God is in complete control, then one cannot ever be angry. Anger is a feeling of indignation toward a perceived injustice. We are angry when we feel that something shouldn’t have happened the way that it did. But feeling outrage about something that has already happened to us is to argue with reality, which is to argue with God. Surely, the person of faith may at times express displeasure, disappointment, or even grief, for these are merely opinions. But there is a world of difference between saying, “I don’t like the way things are,” and saying, “Things really shouldn’t be the way they are.”
Getting over resentment in a relationship
Now, how does this relate to interpersonal relationships? Rabbi Schneur Zalman explained that just as one must calmly accept the reality of a damage caused by an overt act of God, so must one have this same attitude when suffering at the hands of another person. Notwithstanding the fact that the offender may still be liable to God for his or her misdeed, what should concern us is that God already decreed the damage that came of the offender’s poor choice. Surely it was not the offender’s decision that caused the event to transpire, but rather, as with everything else in this world, it was brought about by God, even if for reasons known only to Him.
Accordingly, getting over our resentments is far more than a matter of unburdening ourselves of emotional pain. It is how we get in touch with God’s purpose and plan for our lives. As long as we attribute to the actions of others any power to define our lives, then we submit ourselves to the tyranny of people, places, and things rather than placing ourselves in the care of God. Thus, even when there have been people in our lives who have intended us harm, our faith tells us that none of that could have ever derailed our lives from God’s plan for us. To carry a resentment is to imagine that a created being has the kind of power over our lives that only God has. To forgive our enemies is to take away that power and to attribute it only to God.