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April 3, 2011
“I seek peace. Not just within but without. If I am wrong, I say so and I apologize and make amends. I do not let today be eaten up by things I did yesterday; I clear the boards before I sleep. I live in today, because I chose not to waste today with resentments from the past or dreams or silliness: yesterday is gone. I do not forget, but there is no point on dwelling in the past. I live today. I try to live each moment to the hilt, and I remain present.” —Kir-wan Queren, Jedi Knight
This passage is an excerpt from the Jedi Holocron and it speaks true with my message for this week. If we were talking in an open congregation I would ask that anyone that has ever held a grudge to stand or raise their hands knowing that almost everyone would agree to some degree. So because everyone is doing it I would assume that it is ok to hold such grudges, correct? That is my question for you all today.
For many years I have worked on myself to become less angry at those that have hurt me in the past and felt that I was progressing along relatively well until recently. A couple months ago I began planning a trip to visit my grandmother and some biological relatives (I was adopted at the age of three). During the planning process I began to feel great anxiety towards my biological mother who lives below my grandmother in an “apartment”. The thought of having to deal with the woman that gave me away brought about anger and resentment. How could she throw us out of her life and expect me to want to talk to her? This was compounded by other stories about how she behaved in the past. So am I right to hold a grudge against her? At this point I believed she deserved it and I continued planning and decided avoidance was going to be the key in preventing conflict. Finally the day came and I was visiting my grandmother took me out for lunch and on the way back a dreaded question, I was asked if my biological mother could take me to dinner. With great hesitation I agreed and began to think about my feelings. Why did I still have such hatred for her? Why could I not move past this when so many other things were dismissed without a second thought? How could a person that I had not had to deal with in 30 years control my emotions?
This, my brothers and sisters is a grudge in its purest form. Before I discuss the resolution I would like to touch a bit on the dangers of holding a grudge for much too long. When we hold grudges against other people the first thing it does is give them power over you. Enslaved by your emotions it can hold you back from being the person you want to be. It can hinder relationships with your family and friends because of the underlying doubt that they may betray you as well. Grudges that are left unresolved can allow anger to build up inside of you and soon spill over into other parts of your life. Anger also leads use to distrust and with that you will find yourself alone. The next problem now comes with being angry and alone, you now blame this state on the original grudge which compounds the issue. Just as I did with the situation I just talked about, because I was adopted I blamed all the other problems that came about with my new family on the fact that my mother gave me away to people that did not care about me either. “How dare she put me in this position!”
So, what do we do? How do we get past the endless cycle? I will tell you first forgive yourself. Forgive yourself for being angry. It’s okay to be angry for a time but now it is time to let go. Once you do that it is time to give the person you are angry with. These first two steps are the hardest things to do if you plan to clear the hurdle and take back your happiness. After I was able to make those steps the next thing I did was talk about how I felt with her and it was almost funny to me thinking about how if I had stayed angry and not met with her all these stories that she had to share about me and my brother getting so close and about my grandfather that had passed several years ago. All these family stories would have been lost if I had continued the way I was. A great weight was lifted that day and new doors were opened in my life. I returned home happier with my family and over the last week have not felt the strains of past relationships controlling how I acted with my wife and daughter.
This week I challenge each of you to look into your life and see if you still hold any unresolved grudges. Do you have any anger toward others that may be holding you back? Do not allow other to control your life by allowing them to have power over your feelings. If you do have a grudge please try to forgive yourself and whoever your grudge is with. I know you will see, just as I did, the incredible relief that comes with letting go.