I’ve held a few grudges in my life. Like the time a girl in my third grade class made a comment about how chubby I was, while playing kickball during P.E. one day. I knew her until we graduated from high school and I never wanted to be around her or talk to her after that. She probably never had a second thought about that comment, and by the time we were 18, had no idea why I would still glance the other way when I saw her down the long, white hallways of our school.
I had cousins who also made fun of my weight and I took it SO personally that I didn’t care to be around them much either. I’m sure they loved me because we were family (and still do and are) but I was so hurt at the time, I was unable to see past the comments and them making fun of me and my appearance.
I held a grudge against the McDonald’s in Hillsboro, Texas for YEARS. The woman at the drive-thru window failed to give me change for my $20 once, when I stopped on my way from college to Austin for a visit with my family. I went inside to collect my money and the manager insisted there was nothing he could do. I was NOT happy.
But here’s the thing- we all make mistakes and say and do things we shouldn’t. Someone could be holding a grudge against me RIGHT NOW for something I did years ago or something I did this morning. However, knowing myself as I do after almost 43 years, I can tell you I probably did not do it with mal intent. Sometimes we (meaning humans) just act like idiots.
Recently, I helped K prepare her for her First Reconciliation (if you’re not Catholic and reading this, please stay, it’s not going to get preachy). We completed a lesson book so she could learn about the sacrament and be ready to tell the priest her little sins, which may or may not include fibbing, hurting others’ feelings and stealing leftover Halloween candy when I was not looking. 😉 Amazingly enough, as I went through the lessons with her, I learned a few things about God’s forgiveness as well. I wonder if it was meant to be that way… hmmmm…
The book continually references when Jesus stated, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” John 13:34. My interpretation of this is God’s love and grace toward us should trickle down to others. I will also take it one step further and say in order to do that, we must forgive.
There are occasions when it is extremely hard to forgive someone. I remember my children coming home from school one and day, amazed to learn that Pope John Paul II forgave the man who shot him back in the 1980’s. He sat with him, face-to-face and told him he was forgiven. You may say, well of course he’s supposed to do that, he’s the Pope! But the Pope is human and flawed too. And he may not have forgiven him right away. Once he made the decision to do so, it removed any disdain or hate from his heart and replaced it with love, which will make anyone feel better, trust me. It is truly amazing how we can still love someone who did wrong by us, isn’t it? I see this as one of Jesus’ greatest gifts to us. I see it as one of the keys on the key chain of life. Without forgiveness (through love) we are nothing. It’s like that saying, “Love conquers all.”
I forgave my school friend a while ago, we are friends on social media. I forgave my cousins in the fashion of “they know not what they do” and because I love them. I even forgave the people at the McDonald’s, even though I have no idea who they are. And apparently someone needed that money more than I did.
I have forgiven people that played, and do play, MUCH larger roles in my life and I will continue to, just as people will continue to hurt me, and I will probably continue to hurt them. There may be upset or anger at first, but if I do not practice forgiveness, it will only cause more pain and sorrow. Forgiveness is not giving in or letting the other person off the hook. Instead, it is taking control of our emotional decisions and choosing grace and mercy over hate or anger. In essence, it is living life to the fullest. I refuse to live my life with resentment and bitterness, because it’s a miserable way to exist, but also because I have been taught differently.
Lastly, I would be remiss if I did not mention – sometimes the first person we must grant forgiveness to is our own self. Without self love, we are definitely left with nowhere to start. This will have to be done OVER and OVER again too. But is the most necessary.
Who do you need to forgive?
“The prisoner that it really frees is you…”