“To carry a grudge is like being stung to death by one bee.” - William Walton
“To become aware of a single shortcoming in one’s self is more useful than to be aware of a thousand in someone else.” - Dalai Lama
I recently encountered a situation that showed me that letting go is hard – no matter how much we have practiced it in the past. Years back, someone went out of their way to wrong me in a most spiteful way, broadcasting a false story and dismantling my much of my life as they could. At the time, I engaged counsel who helped me work through the situation. There were numerous depositions, recorded phone conversations, financial records, various reports, photographs and ultimately court transcripts that not only exonerated me, they showed clearly that the other party had premeditated the situation. This all added up to a box full of stuff that had been lying about for almost two decades now – all saved because I was sure that at some point in the future I would want to “prove my case” to others.
In recent years I have worked hard to purify my heart, and not only forgiving this person but looking at my part in the situation has taken much effort over the last ten years. Then, recently I came back across that box, and was faced with having to make a decision about what to do with it. I could have given it to other parties who have never had any idea that there was "another side to the story," I could have continued to hang on to it, or I could choose to be rid of it. Speaking with a couple of folks whose guidance I trust, I came to the conclusion that it needed to be thrown out, despite huge emotional and mental misgivings. Every logical instinct railed against it – and I prayed for the strength to do it.
Circumstances presented themselves where I got to watch another person confront and begin to let go of something painful that happened long ago in their life, and it gave me just enough impetus to pitch all of it. I thought I had long since forgiven this person, but I realized that I was hanging on to the "right to retaliate" - I had not completely let go. And this added up to a grudge that I continued to carry, even if it was at a deeply repressed subconscious level.
Yes, letting go is hard, and even though we trust the counsel of spiritual others and we logically know that holding on to resentments only poisons us, it is still easy to feel that somehow “my case is different.” And so we cling - for years, decades - a lifetime, never realizing how much we ourselves are being harmed. I realize I had justified years of lackluster performance and heavy drinking over that incident – and letting go of it means that I don’t have that particular “security blanket” of self-justification anymore. I know from past experience that "letting go" often doesn't seem to bring relief right away - the feeling is more a gnawing pit in the stomach that makes it real tempting to delve into fear driven anger, self-pity and rationalizations. But, eventually that pit just becomes a bit more space available for God to work through me. But, in the meanwhile, it still feels “all wrong.” In the past, how could I ever have believed that faith was for cowards? The spiritual path is not for the faint of heart.
Today, may I stay the course.
Have a great day.