By Tom White
It has been said of the Irish that they perfected the art of holding a grudge. Quantify it, chew it, savor it, hide it and take it out to consider over and over. Maybe even “sanctify” it and provoke what started it in the first place.
A wiser person than I recalled when a young person was asked why they were so reluctant to be more vulnerable, the response was somewhat chilling: “I am afraid you will make fun of me and ME is all I have.” This response may not feel that foreign to us when we feel as if we have been wronged.
Each of us faces amazing challenges throughout day trying to be the person God created. We promise ourselves as the day begins that we will strive to be good, caring, lovable, charitable and even generous. We hope for a good, if not great, day that we might realize the amazing gifts we have been given. Then life happens.
Our dedicated effort and prayerful focus evaporates in the face of the humanity God puts on our path. While we selfishly cling to our daily commitment, someone else decides that they need us in a different way. The steps we must take or the attention we must give are redefined. We are pushed along at a pace not of our choosing. Someone else is not concerned with our goal and timeline, and we may recoil to protect ourselves. We might even feel angry about it.
Scripture tell us that we are to BEAR WRONGS PATIENTLY and FORGIVE OFFENSES WILLINGLY if we are to be true followers of Jesus. Perhaps Jesus’ request of us is that we simply take a moment or two (or maybe count to 10?) and breathe. It is the breath of life that is cleansing to our hearts and our minds. This seemingly simple task of allowing life-giving oxygen to reinvigorate us allows us to be able to see and feel that the goal and pace were never actually ours. They are always to be open to fellow pilgrims. They are always God’s.
In this Jubilee Year of Mercy may we let go of any grudges that may prevent us from encountering mercy, forgiveness, healing and hope.