Freedom of Forgiveness

My family and friends who have known me for a long time would be able to tell you one talent I do not have - I cannot hold a grudge. They are mostly right! I have tried the exercise, and if I am perfectly honest, it tends to backfire. When it comes to personal grievances, I've seen dearly loved ones gather a full head of steam, fueled with indignation over what someone else has done to them, wronged or slighted them or someone they love in some way. I find it amazing to watch. The last time I tried to hold a personal grudge against a personal wrong, I found myself looking with compassion upon the person I meant to cast in the role of enemy. They had so many reasons outside of our interactions, so many different motivations, known and subconscious inclinations, that determined why they had acted, and reacted, as they had that I discovered I had to cast the circumstances in that other-ing role, and the person I initially felt had wronged me, I then viewed as victim of their life's journey to that point. In addition, once I stepped back, stopped reacting, I realized that this other person, viewing my own actions through their lens, could have legitimate reason to be cross at me. It was humbling, just like every other time I have tried to honestly hold a grudge, withhold forgiveness.

I really am very bad a creating, holding, and maintaining a personal grudge against another individual.

That leaves two categories, though, where I can really dig in, dissatisfied or disgruntled: 1) the socio, political, family and economic systems that have created each and every one of us, and 2) myself. It can be deceptively easy to hold a grudge against the self, ourselves. Somehow it is easier to see the larger picture in relation to another individual than it is to take a step back and afford ourselves that same compassion. This does not mean forgetting the wrongs either done to us or that we have done to another, but acknowledging that we all operate as part of a much larger whole. Holding a grievance, letting it fester, only hurts the person hanging on to the wrong. As a fistula does not heal without intervention, the same is true when we hold on to a grudge whether against another person or ourselves.

On Sunday, the theme of the sermon, and the service, will be forgiveness. What can you not forgive? Where have you been wronged, or how have you wronged another, and the anger has festered inside you? Can you see this anger clouding your actions, perhaps directing your reactions and quick responses in ways that are foreign to who you want to be, and how you wish to be in the world?

~Rev. Andrea Joy Holroyd

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