Sometimes people wound us in ways that trail behind resentment and when unresolved, that polluting feeling only keeps on growing with time and our image of that person, and our overall health keeps on deteriorating with it.
That's one of the things about holding grudges: It hurts us more than the subject of the feeling.
It's like holding on to a knife
The longer you hold on to it, the deeper it wounds you and it will only get better once you let go of it.
But you might want to excuse your feelings, like lots of us fallible humans do, and say that the punch - let it be emotional, psychological or physical - that the person delivered is just too much to let go. . . just too much to that you keep on feeling the effects of it piling on your chest and, slowly and painfully, crushing you.
It's just so hard not to go back to those agonising emotions and feel your heart clenching with every second you dwell on what they did, what they said and how it affected you.
It is too much!
Well, maybe for you in the mercy and strength of your power - your quite weak power - but, for God, nothing is too much. Nothing is too hard (Jeremiah 32:27) or impossible (Matthew 19:26) for Him who created everything and is in charge of everything.
So, what we need to do, if we are holding on to the agonising knife of holding a grudge is:
Let go of it and let God heal you
When we tightly hold on to the knife known as grudges, we continuously let it create deeper cuts in us; deeper cuts in our health and relationships.
I have been in a position where someone very close to me had wounded me, mostly emotionally and psychologically, and I have felt my chest immediately cave in and that region heat up as if my heart was pumping out boiling acid throughout my body.
It stings to feel resentment towards someone you love deeply and yet, I always kept on excusing my feelings as valid after all, I was indeed wounded and it was because of them.
I was right to feel angry. They were in the wrong here.
Yes, they indeed wounded me and it hurt - it really stung hard - but pushing the knife deeper by continuously replaying those harsh words, those wrongdoings were actually damaging me more than it was every damaging the other person.
Being too busy victimising myself, I kept on feeding those bitter feelings that kept on leaving me feeling more bitter, more offended and more restless at the fact that the person wasn't even coming back to apologise.
In feeding the desire to receive an apology, I was stroking my ego which, to be honest, was wounded too and I am so against feeding my pride.
It's as destructive and fatal as feeding the lion that will devour you.
So, holding on to the bitterness and anger and sadness that comes with confusion, I was feeding myself with negative emotions and thoughts that would manifest themselves in how I behaved and that was not good.
Not good at all.
Thankfully, God being amazing, He didn't just sit out and let me construct my own path of self-destruction.
No, as per usual, He helped me see that holding on to grudges was actually wounding me more, if not only, than whoever I was feeling resentful and that I needed, desperately so, to let go of those feelings, of that pain and let Him heal the wounded that it had created.
So I did and I am still doing that.
I am letting go of every grudge I have towards anyone who I believe has wounded me and I am trusting God to help me heal because I need healing. Resentment and bitterness leave a nasty root in our hearts and we need God's transforming and caring hands to uproot them.
Resentment and bitterness leave a nasty root in our hearts and we need God's transforming and caring hands to uproot them.
God is our healer, He heals us from the inside-out, creating new hearts in us (Exodus 15:26; Ezekiel 36:26).
He surely can heal you from the wounds of holding grudges if you just let go of those bitter feelings and run to His comforting and transformative embrace.
So, let go of those bitter feelings and let God show you just caringly He can heal and transform you.
Choose to not take offence
"But they offended me!"
Yes, yes, someone said some nasty and hurtful things to you or about you and, immediately, the offence made himself acknowledged and you felt hurt.
They said something or did something awful and now you feel offended but, you don't have to.
Sometimes, when people say something to us or about us, we take offence but not because they intended to offend us ut because we have triggers.
We have certain topics, certain memories, certain things that when said to us, even out of the context of offending us, we feel offended.
Some of us might feel offended when someone talks about our figure and that might be because we are insecure about our bodies, not because they intended to be offensive.
Some of us might feel offended when someone talks light of some disease or situation but not because the person's intent was to downsize the issue but because we are sensitive towards it and easily offended when it comes to it.
Topics such as body types, mental illnesses, religion, race, ethnicity and so forth can be quite sensitive topics for everyone and especially for those who have been victims of it or know people who have.
Yes, some people may be completely racist, disregarding towards mental illnesses, super critics of other people's body types, hateful towards other religions and so forth but, some people really don't mean to be and we need to take both things in mind.
For instance, I can be triggered by racist words and abuse yet I know that there can be people out there who really didn't know that certain things they say or do are racists.
Instead of taking offence and getting on the defence, I think it would be better if I chose not to take offence and assert to that person that what they said or did was wrong.
Even with people who we are confident that they intended to offend because there are many people like that, we can still choose not to take offence.
Choose to forgive
If we do take offence, we can take a moment to let ourselves acknowledge the feelings and emotions that we are experiencing at the moment and if we spot anger, resentment, hatred and spreading emotional ache, we can always go to God and ask Him to help us overcome those emotions and then we can choose to forgive.
Even when the offence is humongous, the pain in your chest undeniably heavy, you can always choose to forgive and move on, allowing yourself to be healed by God and His love.
Even when they don't ask for forgiveness, whether they don't know they offended you or they just don't want to; choose to forgive them.
I am not telling you to forgive just because we have been forgiven in Christ (Ephesians 4:32) and we literally pray for the Lord to forgive us just as we forgive others when we pray the Lord's Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) but, because it is also a way of you letting go of the offence and walk into healing.
So, choose to forgive those who offend you and always ask God to build in you a character of forgiveness.
Talk about it nicely
"A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger."
- Proverbs 15:1
When addressing someone about an offence you feel they have committed against you, address them compassionately and calmly.
Please don't attack them.
I have done that so many times and the regrets that would usually come with them would be suffocating.
Even now when I lash out, I regret it and I tend to go to God, humbly asking for forgiveness and a change if heart.
Yes, it's far easier to let yourself react to the offence emotionally and aggressively, on the defensive, but, coming at them like that might get them on the defensive and that might spur conflict.
Instead of lashing out, we can choose to address the issue nicely and get it resolved without throwing harsh words.
A gentle confrontation is much better than a harsh one which might get the person you are trying to talk to on the defensive.