There is an old African proverb that says when a person chooses to hold a lifelong grudge, he or she will always suffer twice from the same hurt. One of the liberating ways to begin a new season is to have less emotional baggage from our past.
Let me share a story from my hospital chaplaincy training years ago.
I had a request from a dying man to see a chaplain. He said he wanted to make peace with God before he passed away.
As we were talking about his past, I noticed he became very angry and animated when he mentioned a particular employer whom he worked for when he was in his early 20s. Mind you, this man in the hospital room was probably in his late 70s or early 80s at the time of our conversation. He quietly asked me what he should do with his feelings toward his enemy from the past.
I gave an answer that we both already knew. He must either choose to forgive this man or carry this grudge until his last breath here on Earth. He grew silent and looked away from me.
“Do you think your former boss might come into this room and make a last minute act of contrition by apologizing to you?” I ventured.
He finally looked at me in the eyes again and said, “I know where you are going with this.”
When we choose to forgive someone, we are not condoning what that person did; nor are we playing mind games in pretending that the offense never occurred. Because of life’s circumstances, sometimes we should just choose to forgive our offender so we can release ourselves from them and them from us.
Because that dying man in the hospital was still holding a grudge, I saw with my own eyes that even though decades and an entire lifetime have separated him and his former employer, his old boss still had the power to hurt him.
This was a powerful lesson I would never forget in my own life.
As we all begin a new season, please ask God to help you to let go of past grudges so you can move forward with greater emotional freedom and joy in your life!
God bless you all.