I once heard a motivational speaker say something like this: “Some people harbor so many grudges that their horizons are overlapped by their hair.” As we build and expand our relationships we encounter friction and disagreements. If we cannot get past the rough spots, we hold grudges and resentments. If a person is focused on the perception that people have wronged him, his vision of the world around him becomes very short-sighted.
The world has long been engrossed in resentments and holding grudges. We see this on the International stage with sabre-rattling and wars raging between nations. In the United States, itself among the various political and religious factions, and interpersonally with the millions of people with “chips on their shoulders”.
When one group or individual believes they have been wronged by others, resentments simmer and frequently erupt as full-fledged conflicts. We’ve all been in these type of situations. In severe cases, rifts in the national fabric occur or intimate relationships break up.
One day, during some quiet time, I reflected on how the years have flown by quickly. My biological parents and step-mom have all died; the rest of the extended family is becoming elderly; and cousins have lost track of one another. Each new day seems ever more precious, personally.
Sometimes I think about the feelings of others I have hurt and the times other people have trampled on mine. There have been many unmended fences and misunderstandings along the way. Some are probably unreconcialable and will only be healed by forgiveness. More importantly, in many instances the best solution is to reconcile differences and be accountable for one’s actions.
The scenarios in which a person forgives and lets go versus a person forgives and reconciles can be ambiguous or unambiguous. During my high school years, one classmate and his confederates mercilessly bullied my best friend and me. After graduation, I let go of the resentments that had built up and forgave the classmate.
Several years later, my brother, Mark, became this individual’s coworker. Mark told me that the former classmate hoped I would forgive him. This knowledge stirred up the old resentments and hurt he had caused.
An especially shockingly violent episode returned to mind. One day, during my sophomore high school year, the bully and his friends sped past my friend and me and heaved heavy chunks of concrete rubble at us from their car. One large piece of old sidewalk hit my upper back, tearing my shirt and causing abrasions and a large bruise. If it would have hit a few inches higher, the concrete would have hit my head.
Aside from the bully’s feeble, second-hand “apology”, there was never any effort made to approach me personally to atone for the assault nor the daily bullying. No reconciliation was made because there was no friendly relationship to reconcile in the first place. After much fretting and soul-searching I finally re-forgave the bully and his pals.
After pondering the weak mention of apology that was supposed to be relayed to me via Mark, I realized an important lesson. It is important to apologize and atone for ones actions as soon as possible. Otherwise, resentments will fester and future reconciliations will only be more difficult to attain, if not impossible to achieve. Much time will be wasted by all parties concerned by rehashing old hurts. This time could have been spent in positive thoughts and costructive activity.
I saw an Internet meme last night that underlines the necessity of reconciliation. “Reconciliation enables recognition and respect of everyone’s rights and happiness.”
There is a lot of wisdom in those few words.