There’s nothing worse than that gut turning feeling that nags at your spirit that reminds you that you haven’t fully healed or let go of a negative experience or a past offense. Holding on to a grudge is damaging inside and out. Saying that you’ve forgiven someone, but living in bitterness can feel like your carrying a huge load. Holding on to a grudge doesn’t hurt the person who did the offense as much as it hurts the person who is determined to revisit the pain caused by the experience by not letting go. Learning how to purge the grudge is the biggest gift you can give to yourself and draw closer to God.
Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3: 13
It’s Not Over
How do you know that you haven’t truly forgiving someone, and that you’re walking in bitterness? I wish I could tell you that I have always forgiven someone who’ve hurt or offended me easily. Sadly, I know the feeling of carrying the weight of not letting go of a past offense, and treading the path of what I call “emotional quick sand” of bitterness. Sometimes people say hurtful things without thinking, there are unfair things that happened to us from our past growing that go unnoticed or unacknowledged, friends may disappoint or betray us, family weren’t family when we needed them the most, children go astray from our teachings, divorce can be painful, our spouses may fall short, and etc. The list can go on and on of various levels of what lead us to feeling the pain from a hurtful offense. However, you’ll know in your actions, and you’ll know in your heart if you truly haven’t let go of the issue.
Here are a few examples that you maybe holding on to a grudge:
- You constantly find yourself in thought or conversation bringing up the issue.
- You’ve distanced yourself from settings, environments, or even speaking to those who are affiliated with the person or persons who did the offense.
- You’ve resulted to character assassination, gossip, slander, venting, or spreading negative things ( true or other) about the person or situation that you seem to not let go of.
- You wish or seek physical harm, financial detriment, or any form of pain in revenge to the person.
- You begin to pratice sabotaging tactics as a form of payback.
- There are triggers that effect you physically ( stomach pain, headache, or insomnia and mentally ( depression, anxiety, withdraw, instant moodiness and etc) instantly when the thought of what happened or the person comes up.
Get rid of all bitterness, rage, and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:31-32
Forgiving & Forgetting Are Separate
Forgiving and forgetting are two separate entities. We are to be realistic when it comes down to understanding the process of forgiveness knowing that there are different levels of offenses that may cause different levels in response to forgiving. It maybe easier to forgive someone who put their foot in their mouth in conversation than it would be to forgive someone who went all out of their way in spreading lies on your reputation. It maybe easier to forgive a spouse after a bad argument than it would in co-parenting with your former spouse who physically abused you. Forgetting has nothing to do with sweeping anything under the rug. Forgetting isn’t co-signing on repeated detrimental behavior, deceit, any form of abuse, or staying in anything that is toxic or unhealthy. Just because you forgive it doesn’t mean you will forget. However, forgiveness is about taking your power back in not letting the situation or circumstances control you.
Here are a few steps to purge the grudge in moving forward and healing from the past:
- Choose to not identify in living through the lens of the victim mentality. The difference between a survivor and a victim is a mentality. Choosing to remain the victim gives all the power and control to the offender on how you respond to life. Apply what lessons you’ve learned from the scenario and propel yourself forward from the attitude of growth not pain.
- Acknowledge how holding on to unforgiveness has affected your life. We may think that holding on to a grudge is just internal, but in truth it’s external. Most friendships can’t stand the tests of time if you’re constantly bringing up everything that every “bad friend” did to you from past incidents. Most romantic relationships can’t evolve to their fullest potential if you are living in hurt from the past. Careers can be stagnated or opportunities may past us by if we act in self- sabotaging behaviors .
- Don’t create false alliances. Relationships built from our defense on creating conflict, dissension, controversy, and strife are short lived. They are false alliances that are built on shaking ground, and they are usually in danger of creating a reverse affect. Relationships that are established or maintained from backbiting, gossip, or slander never last or end well.
- Shift your focus to those who love you. Choose to shift your focus on those who love you. It will be your biggest distraction in a healthy way against focusing on past hurts from the actions of those who behavior at the time were not loving. It’s not about emotional dumping or cling behavior in solely depending on others for support. Its about rechanneling your energy to focus on the love that’s in your corner.
- Let go of perfection.Remember the road to forgiveness is a process. It doesn’t happen over night. Give yourself grace to get through this. Keep a journal in sharing your thoughts in getting through each step. Also, sometimes the “formal” apology never happens in the form that we expected. Ever had a friend that caused the ultimate shade, let down, or betrayal pop back in your life through a private message on social media ” Like Hey, Girly!” Like nothing happened, or had someone pass away before ever saying ” I’m sorry for what I did to you.” in giving you what you thought would be the perfect closure. In truth, there is no perfect way, perfect timing, or perfect ending in forgiveness and reconciliation as I once thought. It can be unpredictable at best.It’s about deciding to own your peace.
- Give it to God. We are not to be judge, jury, and executioner to anyone. We have all fallen short in some way, shape or form. God does fight our battles, but our Heavenly Father also extends grace. Remember the battle is not yours it’s the Lord. Be humble, and trust God in the process of healing.
- Give yourself the ultimate gift of forgiveness. Forgiveness isn’t just a precious gift that you give to someone else. Forgiveness is a gift to you in deciding to let go, move forward, embrace joy, and own your peace.