This is an anonymous letter to you my reader/friend for your response to my blog about searching for old grudges. You wrote that you sadly found some old, cobwebbed grudges and that inspired you to wonder if others held grudges against you! I write this as an “open” letter since I’m sure there are other readers who may be burdened with grudges.
First let’s define a grudge: it is an imbedded feeling of resentment or malice, which enlighteningly can also mean venom, a snake’s poison. Grudge comes to us from the Middle English “gruggen” and from the Middle High German “grunzen,” which means “to grunt,” illustrating that it is a deep-seated feeling. Grudges cripple and handicap because they are weighty burdens to bear. As one can bear a child, so one can bear a grudge and be pregnant with it for years and years. We bear grudges for such a long time because the intensity of the pain or shame of the injury make it “feel” like it is impossible to forgive.
Galilee’s village carpenter turned itinerant teacher was asked by his disciple Peter if he should forgive an offender seven times. The Teacher, perhaps from personal experience, said, “No, Peter! Not seven but seventy times…endlessly until…?” Until the injury is forgotten and removed like a dark stain by what seems like endless laundering over and over until it’s gone. Whenever you think of the offender, forgive them until that painful memory, like so many old memories, has disappeared and you are free.
So be inspired to find freedom by forgiving, even if the offender is dead or no longer part of your life. It’s never too late to laundry old time grudges, be they against your parents or a parent, a teacher or coach, a priest or pastor, relative…or even a stranger. And do not forget to forgive any grudges against God for the body or mind, the parents, or the kind of life you were given!
This reflection concludes with a true story, a mini-parable about Miss Clara Barton, the founder of the American Red Cross (1821-1912). She was well-known for her prolific forgiveness, so people said of her that she never bore a grudge. One day a good friend said to her, “Clara, surely you remember that horrible thing she said about you some years ago. It must have been so humiliating.” “No, I don’t,” replied Clara firmly. “I distinctly remember forgetting about that!"