Isn’t it great to be really pissed at somebody? Doesn’t it feel righteous and justified? Ain’t it grand to feel all superior and right? After all, what they did (or didn’t do), or said (or failed to say) is unforgivable. So we carry a grudge.
Interesting how they call it “carrying” a grudge. Kinda like carrying a heavy weight. Or hauling a big load around. Sounds like hard work! And that’s the point – carrying a grudge is hard work. Like most hard work, it saps your energy and is usually best avoided.
But if heavy work must be done, shouldn’t the guilty one be doing it? If they committed the unforgivable offense, doesn’t it make sense that they should do the carrying? More often than not, though, they’re walking around, happy as a lark and you’re left with the heavy grudge.
Why is this this grudge-carrying business so important?
“He offended me! She insulted me! I can’t let them get away with that! From this day forward, I’m going to punish them by holding a grudge. They will forever be deprived of my good opinion, my friendship and my affection!”
The problem is that, from now on, every day when you wake up, you’ll have to remind yourself to pick up that grudge. Everywhere you go you’ll have to carry it. Because, if you forget, even for a moment, that you’re carrying that grudge-load, you might slip up and think kindly about him. It’s a load you’ve chosen to carry forever.
Of course, you could always forgive.
Our first instinct, when we think about forgiveness, is to recoil from the idea. “What have they done to deserve my forgiveness? They haven’t apologized! What they did was wrong and it hurt me!”
But that misses the big, delicious secret of forgiveness: You don’t forgive someone for their sake. You do it for yourself.
Most people think of forgiveness as the act of deciding that, whatever was done to you wasn’t so bad, so you’ll just let it go. “Maybe I overreacted. I guess I misinterpreted or I’m just being stubborn. I guess I was the one who was wrong.”
Nope! What they did to you WAS wrong and is still wrong. It won’t ever be right. And your forgiveness can’t, won’t and isn’t supposed to make it right.
Forgiveness isn’t changing your mind about what they did to you. It’s deciding that you don’t want to lug that load around anymore. It’s relieving yourself of the hard work that’s required to carry that grudge. So you set it down and walk away.
Not in an, “Aren’t I so superior!” kind of way either. That brings its own kind of debilitating load. You simply set your offense down, leave it behind, and feel the lightness, the freedom, the joy that a grudge-free journey brings.
Resentment and anger are lead weights that drag you down, constantly crashing into the toe-stubbing obstacles that inflict a recurring pain every time you pick them up. Forgiveness, though, is a helium balloon, weightless, floating you effortlessly up to your own marvelous freedom to choose joy.