I have to ask - how easy is it for you to hold a grudge? That old adage that time heals all wounds is really not all that relevant if you are really, really good at holding a grudge! In fact, the more you nurse a grudge, the longer it will hang around in your life, impacting not only the relationship you are so unwilling to forgive, but it begins to affect all the other relationships in your life, as well. Hurting someone who has hurt you - it is kind of an innate thing - it is just part of defending one's self, isn't it? Since the beginning of time, we have lashed out against things that hurt us - destroying them if we could, but at least distancing ourselves from them as much as possible. I gotta ask - is that really the best way to deal with people, though?
Do not hurt someone who has hurt you. Do not keep on hating the sons of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord. (Leviticus 19:18)
While we might want to distance ourselves from the lion who prowls the hillside, we are not always going to be able to distance ourselves from each other. Sometimes we just plain have to live with the other person, but just because we cannot physically distance from them doesn't mean we don't do all we can to emotionally distance ourselves! We have this 'distancing' thing figured out, don't we? That is what a grudge does - it puts distance between our hearts. It keeps us from making that connection because we have come to view the 'connection' as that which invokes a painful response within us.
People hurt people. It is a given. We do it without even thinking about it. We don't even realize we have done it when we do. It is part of living and breathing on this planet earth. We don't have to live with hurt, though. We can be free of it - distancing ourselves from the hurt rather than the person! How? We have to remember God is the only one who can perfectly and completely change the heart of the other individual. He is the only one who can change our heart, too. So, we take that hurt to him and trust him to help us heal, all while he is dealing with the other person's heart. We may not see his work immediately, but if we continue to release the offender to God, the work God will do in us will help us never lose connection.
Maybe we want to lose connection. I'd have to say that not every relationship is worth keeping - maybe that is a bit harsh, but I think it is true nonetheless. Some relationships are just going to keep bringing harm into our lives and these are the ones we need to separate ourselves from. Not because we aren't to love the other guy, but because God never asks us to endure a relationship that is taking us further away from a relationship with him. If we find a relationship just keeps driving a wedge between us and God, then it is time for some re-evaluation of the relationship.
The 'sons of your people' are not always going to act as they should. They are going to do stuff that we consider to be 'bad' or 'mean', but it doesn't make them 'bad' people. If we can focus on restoring the right relationship with God and the other person, good deal. If we don't have time or energy left to focus on our relationship with God because of the demands of the harmful relationship we are in, it may be time to reconsider that relationship. Just sayin!
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