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Holding It All Together-Grudges And Forgiveness

By Amy McCollom
My daughter was sitting beside me, browsing with me through my Facebook pages, when I came across a picture of an old school friend.  I stopped scrolling, and growled a little.

“This girl here did something really mean to me my freshman year of high school.  She and another girl, for no reason whatsoever, took a Frisbee full of cold water and threw it right in my face while I was getting dressed after P.E. one day.  I thought she was my friend.”  

My daughter, who had obviously heard that story before, sighed and said, 

“Are you still holding onto that?  That was years ago.”

Well, that was embarrassing.  It was also true.  I was holding a grudge.  A very long grudge.  That little incident, though it was hurtful and surprising and mean, happened way back in 1980.  40 years have passed and I am still holding a grudge against the girls who did that to me.  I need to let it go.  I need to forgive them, whether they remember doing it or not, and whether they are sorry or not.  But how am I supposed to do that?  

So I Googled it.  What I learned about grudges is:

1.  Grudges are very common.

2.  Grudges can be harmful, causing stress, anxiety, health problems, and  cyclical emotional reactive states of depression.

3. A grudge acts as a badge of identity to the sufferer.  Some people aren’t so willing to give up a grudge when it is part of their identity and proof that they have been hurt.

4. A grudge is a cry out for help and recognition that you have been hurt or suffered in some way that was unfair or uncalled for. 

5. The quicker you can get rid of a grudge, the easier it will be to be rid of it.  The more you think about it, the harder it will be to remove.  (Kind of like a neighborhood cat, once you feed it, it will stay around.)

6. Giving up a grudge gives you back power over the pain that hurt you.  It makes you stronger than the grudge and the people who hurt you.

7. Giving up your identity as a victim can be a little scary, but the strength, confidence, and bravery you will gain when you reconcile that you are not a victim any more, will be more fulfilling and productive than any comfort you received as a victim.

8. Forgiveness is necessary for a clean heart and life.  Forgiveness is more about you and less about who hurt you.  Forgiveness is taking the hurt off of your body, one strand at a time, and throwing it away, no matter who put it on you.  Forgiveness sets you free.

It really comes down to being a better person today than you were yesterday.  If everyone in the world would just do that, then this world would be a very wonderful place indeed.  That is a big dream, so let’s start with something we can handle.  Us.  Each of us in our house can be better than we were yesterday.  Sweeter, kinder, more giving, less judgemental, less complaining, more healthy, more fun, more forgiving.  Then maybe our street can be nicer, friendlier, happier.  Then our neighborhood, lovelier, more sharing, more caring, more giving.  Then our town can be better than it was, cleaner, nicer, smiley, less arguing.  You see how it works.  

Forgiveness is about as opposite of blaming as you can get.  Forgiveness hurts no one, and offers freedom.  Grudges trap and bind us to hurtful moments in time.  So, I said all of that to say this:  Don’t hold grudges, just forgive people.  If I have done anything against anyone, please forgive me.  I am sorry.  If anyone has done anything to me to hurt or offend me, I forgive you.  But if you throw a Frisbee of cold water in my face now, I will probably punch you.  But no grudges will be held against you.  I’m stronger than that now.

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