In 1990, I was in a wonderful romantic relationship. We rarely argued. We travelled together well and often, and enjoyed each other’s company immensely. I loved this man (whom I’ll call ‘Keith’) with all my heart, and was so grateful to God for giving me such a special person to share my life with.
After two years, he broke up with me. Our friends were shocked and I was devastated. I cried every day for a year – and for three years after our breakup I still believed down to my core that we would be together again one day.
In 1993, I sold my home in Cincinnati and moved to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career. Six months later Keith’s daughter, who was an aspiring singer/songwriter, moved to LA, too. ‘Emma’ is very likable and extremely talented, and we became fast friends.
Keith and I had parted on good terms, so when he came to visit Emma in July of 1995, we spent a day together hiking in the mountains near my home. We had a fabulous time, hiking and talking non-stop, and I remember so clearly thinking that I had finally made the transition back to friends.
On August 27th, I received word that my beloved sister Ann had committed suicide. I left a message for Keith that I had some devastating news and asked that he return my call. What he didn’t know is that I had also called a number of other friends to get the support I so desperately needed. But since he was such a special person to me – and we had just been hiking together one month earlier – it made perfect sense that I would reach out to him, too.
I waited. He never returned my call. Emma told him of Ann’s suicide, but still no call came to me. I was crushed. How could this man who meant so much to me ignore such horrific news? I thought maybe he’d send a card or flowers, or something, but nothing – nothing came. And after a time, this turned into a huge resentment for me.
I tried everything I could think of to let go of the resentment, as it was eating me alive. I wrote about him in countless inventories and prayed for him for weeks on end. I went down to the ocean and wrote his name in the sand allowing the waves to wash it away and hopefully the resentment, too. All to no avail. I even wrote a letter to him and mailed it to my friend Mary Ann as a surrogate ‘Keith.’ I wrote another letter and burned it ceremoniously in a Native American sweat lodge. And still the ill feelings stayed with me. I began to hate the mere mention of his name, and I thought perhaps I hadn’t really known him at all.
Then one day in 2002, I asked my best buddy why she thought I couldn’t let go of this resentment. She said, “Do you suppose it’s such and such?” I don’t even remember what she said. I do, however, clearly remember my response. “No,” I said, “that’s not it. It’s because this resentment is the only piece of him I have left. And if I let go of the resentment, I’m letting go of him altogether – and I haven’t been willing to do that.”
Finally I had my answer! Turns out I had been praying wrong all along. Rather than pray for the resentment to be lifted, I needed to be praying for the willingness to let go of the man absolutely. And remarkably, the minute I said that prayer, the resentment was lifted. Seven years of carrying around a very heavy burden and the resentment was at last behind me.
Sometimes my biggest character defect is my unwillingness – to let go, to accept life on life’s terms and people for who they are. I’m so grateful to have this program to teach me how to find the willingness to have God remove all these defects of character and live life as God intended – happy, joyous and free.