Wrath and anger are hateful things, yet a sinner holds them tight. Sirach 27:30
There is something I haven’t been able to get out of my mind since Christmas and that is how many families could not get together and enjoy one another’s company because of grudge holding.
Maybe it’s because I am around a lot of families during the holidays, but it seems that I hear about so many situations where it wrecks the holiday peace for so many. I point out to my brothers and sisters just how lucky we are not to have that problem.
Holding grudges is one human behavior that I find very curious. Because it does more damage to the one holding it than it does to the one it is held against.
Holding a grudge amounts to convincing oneself that you can hurt someone back by continuing to hurt yourself.
“I’ll show you! I’ll hurt me!” It’s like killing yourself because your girlfriend left you to get even with her. Holding onto a grudge is like holding a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else: You are the one who gets burned.
In carrying a grudge, the degree of resentment is usually out of proportion to the insult or injury. It is often something very small that has been nursed until it becomes larger than life. At the core of a grudge, you will probably find a fear that is unowned. It could be a fear of not being good enough, a fear of not being secure enough or a fear of not being all that one appears to be that the original slight exposed.
I have always found that the best way to head off grudges is to lower one’s expectations of loved ones and let them be who they are. Yes, we may need to let them be outrageous, inconsistent and even inconsiderate at times in hopes that they will return the favor someday.
When we “expect” those we love to do what we want, act like we want, say what we want — and they don’t — we set ourselves up for disappointment that can lead to grudge-holding.
Trappist monk Thomas Merton was right when he said: “The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise, we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them.”
Carrying a grudge is a choice, a self-righteous, self-defeating, pride-filled choice between simply being “right” and having a sister, brother, mother, father or friend as part of one’s life. Instead of choosing to have a whole family, a grudge-carrier chooses to have a family with a hole in it.
Choosing a response that is so “wrong” is a high price to pay for that need to be “right.”
To read more from Father Knott, visit his blog: FatherKnott.com.