Step 8: Resentment Prayer

As I write this it’s March 21, 2011, which is my 4th AA Birthday. I feel so humbled to have been given the gift of starting life anew in AA.

I’m quite emotional about the people who were instrumental in my early sobriety. In fact, the thought of them brings tears to my eyes. I’m so grateful to them and owe my very life and serenity and sanity to those people who took time with me in that first year.

I’ve already said that I knew NOTHING about AA before Googling ‘alcoholic’ and going to my first meeting. I know, ‘lived under a rock’ evidently.

On my first cruise, I was still drinking. I saw in the stateroom log that there was a Friends of Bill W get-together nearby. I love cake and thought I’d see if this was like one of those social parties that are catered by the kitchen or something. I stuck my head in with a smile and asked, “Is it a birthday party?”

Everyone looked at everyone else… and smiled. Oh, I thought. It is probably a surprise and I’m going to ruin it if I make them talk! so I left. (no cake anyway)

Ironically, today it’s my birthday party and I’m going to try to share my magic bullet for resentments (those that don’t just disappear after examination during Step 4 and 5.)

AA Journals

Being a visual learner, means I forget or miss much of what I hear when I’m learning. Therefore, I began to take notes at my second AA meeting with the guys. I need to be able to see the words to process truth and remember them.

The three little books to the right are my AA journals from May to July of 2007. This morning I wanted to find some wisdom shared with me by an old Hippie with long blond hair and beard who was from Dubuque, Iowa. He would visit us at the 9:00 upstairs in the club. One morning, he shared how he conquered a major resentment.

The following is what he wrote out for me on a scrap of paper. I copied it and want to share it with you. I’d never heard about praying for people we resent. As he shared, I think he could see my wisdom teeth, my jaw was so dropped. Why would I want to do that? Pray for myself, yes. But pray for them?

I’m being honest with you. I tried it and it worked so well that I do NOT remember who I prayed for! Nope. The resentment is gone. The anger is gone. The chip on my shoulder is no longer there. The way this alcoholic mind works, I just now stopped writing and tried to remember–thinking it would probably be a good example if I could detail just how awful they were, how unforgivable the offense, how inexcusable the actions. Whoa! Don’t even go there, Heidi.

I’m going to give you the prayer he shared with me because it worked so well for me. It’s become the bullet that I shoot off to God and He, in turn, heals my wounded soul by giving me forgiveness for those whom I saw as enemies.

I used to curse people I resented with Psalm 58:8 “Lord may mine enemy be like a slug melting away as it moves along!” I felt justified in my cursing, based on how wounded I felt. That thinking kept me sick. This prayer heals me and releases the grasp of unforgiveness on my heart.

Peace be to ______.  All God’s gifts are yours. I forgive completely. I release you from my grasp. You are free. I am free. God’s will be done for you and me.

I’ve heard and read other versions of the 4th Step Resentment Prayer. The book says,

This is a sick man. How can I be helpful to him? God save me from being angry. Thy will be done.

The promise of the Resentment Prayer is that we can take a kind and tolerant view of all. Dubuque guy said that he told his sponsor that he couldn’t say the prayers in the Big Book like they were written because he doesn’t talk that way and it feels wrong. His sponsor wisely told him to write his own prayers. I know many people who do that.

The wisdom of Joe and Charlie says you should pray for the person even if you can’t mean it. My advice is to pray for the willingness to pray if you can’t honestly go to God on behalf of that person. He has always given me the willingness if I ask for it.

Remember, we’re doing this for ourselves. We are more likely to want to return to the numbing effects of alcohol if we have resentments.

This was our course: We realized that the people who wronged us were perhaps spiritually sick. Though we did not like their symptoms (how they wronged us) and the way these disturbed us, they, like ourselves were sick too. We asked God to help us show them the same tolerance, pity, and patience that we would cheerfully grant a sick friend. ~AA p 66

Simply, they wronged us. Everything after that point is our move. We resented their actions and got angry! We replay the injury, we magnify the picture until we find evil intent and we carry the grudge forward into our lives. Therefore, it is necessary to back up, look at the possibility that they are fellow strugglers who perhaps are sick, or at the least, they’re human. From that position, we can be concerned for them and their welfare when God gives us the grace to do so.