Root 4 — Dreams Deferred or Denied
I once knew a man who dreamed of becoming a medical doctor. He studied hard through elementary and high school, making excellent grades. But when the time came for him to go to college, his father refused to help. Instead, he was forced to stay on the family farm and work. Times were tough, money in short supply, and this young man felt he must obey his father’s demands.
At the age of 23, this man had enough of farm life. He packed his belongings, loaded his car, and drove away—taking with him a heart full of bitterness and resentment toward his father. For the rest of his life, he held to his anger and blamed his father for the loss of his dream.
As the years passed, this man allowed few people to get close to him. The bitterness he held inside spilled onto every relationship he developed, so he was constantly coping with feelings of rejection and isolation. He moved from job to job, unable to settle down or succeed in his work.
Finally, he met a woman who genuinely cared for him. After a short engagement, they married. Three weeks into the marriage, an unexpected explosion of anger nearly ended all affection his bride felt toward him. She didn’t leave him, but she cringed at his violent temper. Most of her friends refused to come to their home—they simply couldn’t tolerate being in the presence of a person so filled with anger and bitterness.
This man held to his rage until the end of his life. Even when he was senile and unable to care for himself, the poisons of resentment and bitterness continued to eat away at him. The longer he held to his anger, the hotter it burned inside him.
I’d love to tell you this man had an amazing spiritual healing and became a person filled with joy and peace. But that wasn’t the case. He died a bitter, angry person.
I don’t know all the reasons why this man’s father wouldn’t let him leave the farm. Maybe he was threatened by his son’s intellect or educational goals. Maybe he was selfish, not wanting to lose a farmhand. What I do know with certainty is that none of the reasons were justified in his son’s mind. The son no doubt felt justified in his anger. But let me ask you, “Who suffered the most through those years?” It certainly wasn’t the father.
It was the son.
We must remember that when we hold to our anger and bitterness, our entire lives will suffer their poison.