It’s Not Fair! When You Resent Those Ruining It for the Rest of Us
—And 5 Steps to Get Over It

When You Miss Out (But Others Don’t)

I’m scrolling through Instagram. I stop at the beach photos from last week on a friend’s feed. Multiple families crowded together. Breathing in each other’s laughter. Arms around each other’s shoulders.

I want to do that, too.

But I’m not. On purpose.

And something stirs in me. Something ugly. Envy? Resentment? Frustration?

Yes, yes, and yes.

Cue the Psalms. King David asked it back then, in his own way (see Psalm 73, for example): Why do people get away with doing wrong things?

I ask it now in 2020 words:  

  • Why doesn’t this beach crowd take the pandemic seriously?
  • Why are they gathering like this when we’re not supposed to?
  • Don’t they understand the guidelines are for everybody, not just some?

In other words, why am I bothering to social distance and wear a mask everywhere I go, when others aren’t?

Trying to live by best practices, listening to scientists, and watching the numbers isn’t fun. It causes us to miss out on things we planned for 2020.

And honestly? Part of our missing out is because others aren’t.

Life Isn’t Fair

Hopefully this isn’t how it is where you are. But here in Alabama, it’s as if many are driving while texting and drinking because they don’t want anyone telling them what they can or can’t do regarding coronavirus precautions.

The rest of us are having to stay off the road or dodge them to avoid being hit, forced to be more responsible as a result of their extravagance. Their choices are pushing the covid cases up and stretching the hospital staff thin. 

Life isn’t fair.

Life has lots of inequities. Talk to your Black neighbors about that. Including with covid, they take the biggest hits. Data shows that Blacks and Latinos in the U.S. have been 3 times as likely to get infected with the virus as whites, and nearly twice as likely to die from it as whites. (And we complain about having to wear a mask?)

I complain about more.

Not only do I feel bad for what we’re missing out on, I also feel bad that I feel bad. I don’t want to feel resentful. I don’t want this anger.

What am I to do with these negative emotions stirred up in me? It’s a real struggle.

5 Steps to Get Over Resentment

Here are 5 steps I’m committing to, with God’s help, to get over this hurdle of resenting others.

1. TAKE A STEP BACK

Sometimes unfollowing or muting a friend on social media is the best way to preserve our friendship for the long haul in real life. If I’m not mature enough to handle their posts without getting angry, I need to temporarily disengage until I can grow up a little more.

God says to walk away from temptation. I need to capture my bitter thoughts and discard them before they take root.

2. TAKE A KNEE DOWN

I need more humility, less pride.

Things are more complicated than they appear. I shouldn’t overgeneralize other people’s motives. I don’t have all the facts. I have blind spots. I will practice saying “I don’t know” more often. I get a lot of things wrong. God knows this already; I need to remind myself of it, too.

Self-righteousness is a bad look on any of us.

3. DO WHAT YOU KNOW TO DO

I have my own work to do, and that doesn’t include judging others. “Chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline” (Colossians 3:12).

That’s enough to keep me occupied for awhile (like, my whole lifetime).

I’m deciding the best places to put my energy so I can stay the course, staying true to my values and faith, regardless of what’s going on around me.

4. GIVE AWAY FORGIVENESS

None of us have lived through a pandemic before. We’re going to make bad decisions along the way.

But we don’t have to hold a grudge against each other because of them. I want to build bridges, not walls, with those around me.

God can handle the consequences of others without my help. But I need his help. I want to give grace to others instead of judgment.

5. EXTRA CREDIT: THANK GOD FOR THE BONUS WORK

God is giving me lots of extracurricular spiritual work the past few months. During this lockdown phase, it’s been harder to make decisions on what to do and not do; relationships are tested in closer quarters; tensions run high as others handle things differently from family to family.

Trusting God’s presence in the present is an ongoing gift of surrender. Sometimes I give it; sometimes I take it back.

King David spoke of this too, often at the end of his lament Psalms (see the end of Psalm 73). But God always comes through. He did it for David. He’ll do it for me.

Trade Up

When this pandemic passes and we set our masks aside (the pandemic will be gone one day, right?), I don’t want to be left holding a bag of blame, regardless of how many get-togethers others experienced or how many I missed.

I want to ditch the bag now while I can, and trade it in for better things.

  • Less bitterness, more beauty.
  • Less guilt, more grace. 
  • Less dislike, more love. 

Life may not be fair.
But we love anyway.
We are loved anyway. 

This is what matters the most.


Have you struggled with handling the pandemic differently than others around you, too? Share your thoughts in the comments.

39 thoughts on “It’s Not Fair! When You Resent Those Ruining It for the Rest of Us
—And 5 Steps to Get Over It

  1. bill (cycleguy)

    Even though I would probably be one you would resent (I hate face masks but I do social distance even to the point of turning away from someone in a hallway i.e. it happened yesterday as I left the chiropractor’s office). However, i do agree that resentment is a hanger-onner (yeah, I know that is not a word), but I also know it is a killer. I tell the folks here to resent or to hate makes you that person’s slave. They own you. I do pray for grace in all things…for you, for me, for others.

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      I appreciate your honesty, friend. 🙂 I hate wearing face masks too, but I wear one nonetheless out of consideration for everybody involved. It sounds like you’re still taking safety precautions as well so we’d likely be fine around each other. 🙂

      I definitely don’t want to be a hanger-onner (sounds like a good word to me) for any bad traits so I know I’ve got to move past resentment, not just for later, but for now too. It’s not how I or God wants me to live. Thanks for the prayers for grace for all of us. Much needed!

  2. blankYvonne Chase

    I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything. Here in NYC, everything is still closed for the most part and even if we were open, I have no desire to rush back into the mix of people. This virus is serious and I’m taking it very seriously.

    Do I want to wear a face mask? No, however, that’s what protects my health so I gladly wear it. Is it uncomfortable in this heat? Yes, that’s why I get up early to do what I need to do outdoors before the heat kicks in. This is life. I could complain about it or I could do what I need to do to get through it with as much ease as humanly possible. #itiswhatitis

    I don’t really live my life looking at what others are doing. That’s why I don’t like social media and I have strict boundaries around how I use it. For example, my IG is solely for food and food only therefore I only follow cooks, private chefs, and anyone related to food. Facebook is for crazy people who have too much time on their hands. 😁 I find it to be a breeding ground for insecurity and resentment. I deactivated it a long time ago. Twitter is where I hang out and have the best experience. Even in that space, my profile is protected and I mute and block all day long without thinking twice. If it disturbs my spirt and or my peace, I won’t entertain it.

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      I love that you have such healthy boundaries already in place, Yvonne. “If it disturbs my spirit and or my peace, I won’t entertain it.” As the November election gets closer, I need to put up a few more boundaries as well for my own peace of mind. Thanks for your example.

      I wore my face mask this morning as I got my hair cut. I didn’t know that would have even been possible. But I’m learning all kinds of new things. Our county finally put a mask ordinance in place last night, but still held out lots of exemptions. Our governor still refuses to do it on a state-level because there is such pushback from the people. Because we haven’t experienced what New York did, many people here don’t believe the virus is as serious as the scientists say. But it is circling in closer and closer, and our hospitals are filling up faster and faster, as our numbers continue to spike.

  3. blankMichele Morin

    I think this pandemic has created an opportunity for all of us (if we receive it as such) to jump onto a fast track for growth in “preferring one another.” No matter how I feel about social distancing or wearing masks, I would be so wrong to make light of another person’s fear or physical well being.
    Furthermore, with all our longing for and discussion of justice these days, we are forgetting that it follows on the coattails of righteousness, which is a gift we receive by giving ourselves away.

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      Wise thoughts, Michele. I definitely agree that God can use this pandemic as a time to grow us up in our faith and in our service toward others, if we allow him to. I give him permission to keep transforming me; it’s an ongoing and tedious process I’m afraid. 🙂

  4. blankMartha Jane Orlando

    It is difficult, Lisa, to see all the many people out having a “good time” while we are, due to health issues, stuck at home. However, as you point out here, we can have a selfish, bitter attitude about it, or we can accept our circumstances in a way that would bring glory to God. Praying I’ll be doing more of the latter, and less of the former.
    Stay safe, my friend!

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      Accepting our circumstances is definitely the route I want to go too, Martha. Sometimes I can do it; other times I bristle against it. God is still working on me. 🙂 Contentment in all things is the goal. You continue staying safe too!

  5. blankBarbara Harper

    I feel much the same way. I’ve been astounded by how many people on FB campaign actively against masks or chalk everything up to conspiracy theories. I unfriended one of the most belligerent and hid a few others because I was getting revved up whenever I went on FB. I don’t mind if others disagree, but I get upset when they call names and impugn motives of those they disagree with. I’m doing a lot more scrolling there than in depth reading these days. And, as you say, it’s my fault and an indication of my own need to grow that I can’t read these things without my own spirit reacting negatively.

    On the other hand, I’ve thought that before FB, I would have lost touch with many of these folks. Perhaps it’s not healthy to be constantly barraged by what so many people think, especially people who aren’t really a part of my everyday life any more.

    I love your steps. I need to be faithful to do what I believe God wants me to do and not worry or fret over what others do.

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      I agree with you, Barbara. I think it’s fine to have disagreements (it can actually help us fine-tune what the truth actually is!), but it’s the way we go about it that makes all the difference. The only responses we can control are our own, so that’s where I need to put my focus. I’m constantly tweaking my FB feed to help me stay spiritually healthy. I don’t want to only see voices that agree with me, but I need to be able to monitor my own feelings for what I can and can’t handle properly.

  6. blankDebbie-Dabble

    Fantastic post!! I choose Positivity over all the Political rants, Mask pro and cons rants, Naming calling of people including Political Leaders, sharing of fake news and bashing of Businesses!! I choose to take the higher road, rising above all that nonsense and frankly, Childishness, and not feed and spread the anger and hate!!
    I scroll through all those posts on face book having learned to simply ignore them for my own peace of mind… Thanks for sharing!!
    Hugs,
    Debbie

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      Thanks, Debbie. I definitely want to take the higher road too. There’s a way to have the tough conversations without sinking into the things you mentioned: rants, name-calling, etc. Those only bring everyone down. May we all do better at showing love in our interactions with each other! May it begin with me.

  7. blankLaurie

    Lisa, take a step back and a knee down in humility is the best advice I could read on how to overcome resentment. Thank you for this wise post. More and more, social media seems to be the breeding ground for resentment. We need these good reminders that life isn’t always fair. We need to show others God’s love and grace anyway. And “Boo!!!” to those people not following the guidelines!

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      Social media definitely can be a breeding ground for resentment, I agree. 🙁 Like everything, it can be used for good or for bad, and we just have to find the boundaries to keep it in the good column. I feel like I’m chasing a moving line to stay in the sweet spot.

  8. blankDayna

    Much needed guidance on jealousy as friends are at the beach for a delayed spring break… all smiles. And I’m picking up another friend from the airport after a trip out west. I’m making my own adventures locally and safely and I’ll try to be content with that. Peace and thanks!

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      Oh, that is hard, Dayna. But it sounds like you’re working on having the best possible attitude about it. 🙂 I did go visit my grandkids this week so I’m definitely all smiles about that.

  9. blankSharon Hazel

    God redeems, my prayer is that with time we will all be able to reflect on what we have gained in the Lord during this season! And great reflections on how to confront with honesty our own responses, it’s good to be able to discuss openly, thanks Lisa

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      That’s a great reminder, Sharon: God redeems. I join you in praying that we’ll see a lot of spiritual growth both personally and corporately as we work through this season.

  10. blankShannon

    I struggle with this so much!
    It helps me to remember that I am only responsible for my own actions. I don’t have to explain to God why my neighbors didn’t wear a mask or why someone else went to a large gathering. I only have to be accountable for what I did or didn’t do. I guess this is kind of like number 3 on your list.
    Thanks for the reminder to “take a knee down.” I do sometimes struggle with self-righteousness, so I needed this.

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      Those are great reminders for me too, Shannon. Thanks for sharing your words here. My husband and my youngest daughter (she’s 25) are consistent mask-wearers when we’re out together, so their example helps me be responsible. As of a few days ago, our county enacted a face covering order; hopefully that will increase compliance here, at least for a few days. 🙁

  11. blankMichael & Donna Reidland

    I enjoyed your thoughts on this subject. I think many of us are struggling with the same things. I don’t like wearing a mask mostly because of our heat but I try not to be out in it too much. But as you and many of the commentors said, as believers we can see it as brotherly love toward others and respect of authority … and lots of opportunity for growth. 🙂

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      I understand about the heat too, Donna. I did some social-distance visiting outside yesterday and even in the shade I was drenched in sweat by the time it was over. Yes, lots of opportunity for growth when we’re pushed outside our comfort zone. When we remember the stakes could be life and death for someone, it makes it easier to comply.

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      Have you been to the beach, Lauren? I promise I didn’t know, if so! 🙂 Or maybe you’re on the other side of it, like me? I do have a beach trip planned for August, but not sure how it will happen. We were supposed to go last April and had to postpone.

  12. blankAnne

    Your advice is spot on. As someone with a chronic illness I can’t even do the usual things that people are beginning to do, and the longer people are selfish, the longer I will be stuck at home. But, it does have it’s positives and I just hope that we can all, the world over, beat this virus back. In the meantime, I choose not to be envious of others, but be happy that I have the ability to stay safe without the extra worry of finance or being apart from my family. #wotw

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      You have a beautiful attitude, Anne. And you’re a reminder to me to complain less myself. I am exceedingly blessed to have the option of staying at home (and as an introvert, that part comes easy for me anyway). Keeping our eyes on the long-term goal helps. Thank you for sharing here!

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      Thanks, Jean. I was preaching to myself, but glad if it helps others along the way too. Sounds like many of us have similar struggles that we are working through.

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      It is frustrating. And now we wait for the number of cases to go up again over the next two weeks since our Independence Day holiday here in the states. 🙁 Our hospitals are still able to handle the load in my area, but they are strained. I don’t know how it will be a month from now though. Hopefully people are waking up more to the seriousness of it and will do better about complying with the guidelines from here on out.

  13. blankSarah

    I can relate very well with what you are saying. I live overseas where we shut down before Easter and we are still under stay at home orders. My husband will probably spend several more months working from home, where I always do (blogging and house-managing). We wonder when we next see our families (who also live in the states that are spiking now!) and when we will have a chance to catch up on whatever we have missed. Praying for health, both against covid and mental health. Definitely looking to remind myself of all that I do not know behind the photo, behind the decisions, behind the assumptions. Thank you for this.

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      Oh my, you are definitely in a difficult situation, Sarah. I appreciate your prayer including mental health as well. We can’t even imagine yet the long-term implications this will have on mental health, even as we watch what it’s doing to our mental health in the short-term. I know my anxiety level has increased, and my situation is comparatively easy. Praying that you’ll be able to stay content until you are able to see your families and that it won’t be too much longer.

  14. blankLois Flowers

    Those are some wonderful steps, Lisa (and you even offered extra credit–even better). 🙂 No matter what anyone else thinks or does, all we can control is ourselves and our attitudes, right? Which is why I love how you ended … “Less bitterness, more beauty. Less guilt, more grace. Less dislike, more love.” Amen to that, my friend.

  15. blankJennifer Dougan

    Hi Lisa,

    It’s nice to be back here. It’s such a weird time, isn’t it? So sad about George Floyd’s death and the racial inequalities, and an uncertain and hard time for our hard working police officers too, as well as a strange polarizing season of life with the coronavirus and the pendulum of people’s responses. I agree!

    We are walking that too in Minnesota.

    How are you?

  16. blankBev @ Walking Well With God

    Lisa,
    I appreciate your honesty in your post. I have been in the same boat – allowing resentment to build. While others are vacationing in maskless groups, we’ve been hanging out in our back yard. God, however, is the judge…not me. As with everything we do in life, there will be an accounting to be made. I just need to follow what I feel God is leading me to do and ask for His wisdom. Great tips to keep us off the resentment bandwaggon. What is truly sad is seeing young people dying because they thought the virus was one big joke…
    Blessings,
    Bev xx

  17. blankLouise (Little Hearts, Big Love)

    Oh yes I can so relate to this. Not just with ‘missing out’ when it comes to Covid-19 but also in other areas of life. It’s not an easy thing to overcome. I’m with you in finding taking a step back from social media helpful, trying not to judge other people for their decisions and reminding myself that the only person whose behaviour I have control over is me. #WotW

  18. blankTeresa

    Hi Lisa, Great post. I’m sharing it with a friend of mine who has a serious lung condition and has had to be in the house way too long. She’s missing her grands and life as we used to know it. I have experienced many of the same things you spoke about. Love the way you closed your post. Take care my friend!

  19. blankLisa @ Reading, Writing, and Random Musings

    This is something I am hard core working on right now. I find myself getting so frustrated and angry with people who are not taking the pandemic seriously. In the end, I always go back to I have no control over what others do, and I need to take care of myself and my family to the best of my ability. When I focus it that way, I tend to do better mentally (but I still have moments of frustration). Thanks for the discussion!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *