Friday, 13 May 2011

Grudges - Nurse Them or Nuke Them?

In his work The Great Work of the Gospel John Ensor gives an excellent description of what it means to hold on to grudges.

Grudges love to be nursed, not nuked. Given enough time and fertilizer, our grudges will grow so big they will wrap themselves around our very personality and cover us like ivy covers a house. Grudges force us to play the role of victims, never victors. Holding on to grudges is like crying out for a life preserver while clinging to the anchor! We have to choose either one or the other. ‘If you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses’ (Matthew 6:15). Our grip on grudges must be released. Our very life depends on it.”

Life is a series of choices (now that’s profound). I choose how I am going to respond to external stimuli. I can choose to be happy or sad. I can choose to nurture a grievance or to be forgiving. My choices often have consequences associated with them. If I choose to be sad or if I choose to harbor a grudge for any length of time it can affect me physiologically. I might become depressed or experience some other malady. Holding on to a grudge has been likened to drinking poison hoping the other person would die.

As a general rule, no one can push our buttons like our husband/wife. No one can hurt us quite as deeply as our partner. To eliminate the effects of lingering hurt, Scripture tells us to keep short accounts. The book of Ephesians tells us “In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.”

If you can truly overlook the offense of your partner, that’s the best thing to do. Can you give him/her the benefit of the doubt? Did they mean to intentionally hurt you? Are you primarily upset because you did not get what you wanted? Apply the “Three Day Shower Rule” (Peace Makers Ministries), i.e. if after three days you are taking a shower and you are still upset by what was said/done to you then you have not been able to overlook it and you must deal with the issue. Yes a bath works the same way. And, if you are still in the shower after three days you have a bigger problem.

If you are having trouble forgiving someone, take it to the Lord. Only the Spirit of God can help you forgive someone who has deeply wounded you, it is not something you have the power within yourself to do. The best example is the story of Corrie ten Boom and her ability to forgive one of the cruelest guards in the concentration camp in which she was interned. She did not do that and could never have done that in her own strength.

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