How do we combat the desire to hold grudges?
For more on the topic of forgiveness, click on this link to listen to the PWTE podcast,
“‘As,’ Our Struggle to Forgive.”
Children seem to survive warfare better than adults. No, I’m not talking about Israel versus Iran, or South Korea versus North Korea. I’m talking about the interpersonal battles in which we humans engage. These are the battles that keep brother and sister from talking with each other most of their lives. These are the battles that cause friends to become mortal enemies.
In our Praying With The Eyes podcast on forgiveness (“As,” Our Struggle to Forgive) Richelle Hecker suggests that children deal with conflict by playing with each other. Their need to play is stronger than their need to hold a grudge. Is it possible that somewhere around our teenage years the the coin flips and our need to hold a grudge becomes stronger than our need to play? Is it possible to recapture that need to play so that needing to hold a grudge becomes non-existent?
My next door neighbor, Dave, and I spent a great deal of time together. Our houses were at the end of our subdivision and there was nothing but open country and a few old homes to the north of us. There were gravel pits to explore, forts to build, and pine cone fights to win. It was the latter that had the potential to start a fight. One of us would think it would be funny to throw a dirt clod instead of a pine cone. Inevitably, one of those dirt clouds contained a rock, and … well, you can guess what happened next. Once the dust settled and we ran out of energy from punches that hardly ever landed, we’d both run home crying.
Two hours later (at least it seemed that long, it was probably more like five minutes) we’d be out scouting some new terrain. Our need to play was greater than our need to hold a grudge. It wouldn’t take long, and both of us would forget what started the fight.
Why did things change when we got older?
My gut tells me that it had to do with our need for justice. Don’t get me wrong, that need for justice was there as a child, but it was mostly aimed at our parents. They were the masters and monsters of injustice. “Because I said so!” left an empty feeling in us when we couldn’t figure out why our best friend wasn’t allowed to spend the night. Our need to play with our friends would not permit us to stay angry with each other.
Our relationships were more important than justice.
Did the need for justice replace relationships when our hormones kicked into high gear? It seems that something changes in how we handle relationships when we reach puberty. For the first time we cared about our reflection in the mirror. I remember spending an inordinate amount of time staring in the mirror and looking at my zits that popped up new every day. I remember one of those buddies who wanted to play with me only a couple years earlier now looking at me and saying, “I don’t want a zit face for a friend.” Now that I reflect on his statement, I think what he said had more to do with how he saw himself than what he saw in me.
People make us look bad and all we think about is justice, not playing. They tarnish our image so, by golly, we’ll make them look bad or worse. We lose sleep, weight and life trying to figure out how we’re going to get even.
So, what’s the end result of our need for justice? We forget how to play and we end up being alone. We forget how to resolve our issues and value our relationships. Could it be that Jesus’ need to play with us was the power behind his words,
“Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.”
Luke 23:34 New Living Translation
I’m not saying that children deal perfectly with forgiveness, but maybe they can teach us older and “wiser” people a lesson. “T’is more blessed to play than hold a grudge.” Think about it for a moment. How might your relationship with your brother or sister change if your need to play was greater than your need to hold a grudge? What might happen to an old friendship if you conjured up ways the two of you could play, instead of lobbing grenades at each other? How might your marriage turn around if you both put more energy into how you might play together rather than build walls?
Maybe it’s time to play. Could it be that rekindling the need to play will make it easier to forgive as Christ has forgiven us (Colossians 3:13)?
If you want to hear more about this topic of forgiveness then click on this link to listen to the Praying With The Eyes podcast,
“‘As,’ Our Struggle with Forgiveness.”
Copyright Douglas P Brauner