Monday, January 18, 2016

In the Reflecting Pool, the March on Washington, 1963

"The end is redemption, the end is reconciliation, the end is the creation of the beloved community."

                                                                   --Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I don't recall holding grudges when I was younger. This seems to be a problem of my middle ages, one I'm trying to rid myself of.

I don't hold many grudges. I'm not sure "grudge" is even the right word, but I don't know another one. The source of my grudges? Not being loved enough. I think it boils down to that.

I have two friends who I've known for a long time--since college and grad school. Both are people I admire and look up to. People I love to talk to. But for some reason these friends no longer respond to my emails. No longer make an effort to keep up. I don't know why.

Now, one of my mottos is "You don't know what you don't know." You don't know when someone is having a hard time in her marriage, or when other family problems have proved overwhelming. People get depressed. Undone by life in general. So I try to keep this in mind when I think about these friends. There could be any number of reasons they've fallen out of touch.

Nonetheless, I have found myself feeling resentful toward my friends, and over time the resentment has hardened. But I don't think it's doing me much good. It feels corrosive to my spirit. It feels like a weight.

The wise and wonderful Anne Lamott has this to say about resentment:

When I first got sober in '86, I first heard someone say that harboring resentment is like drinking rat poison, and waiting for the rat to die. Resenting someone is about not forgiving them--thinking that they have done something to you so damaging or disgusting that the are beyond the pale; so therefore you are choosing to be toxic for the rest of your life, rather than to work and pray For the healing. You are willing to go through life not metabolizing the rat poison, so that this person should know what a morally repellent you believe them to be.

But the most horrible thing is that half the time, they aren't even AWARE of what it is you think they did to you. So it's a complete waste of your precious bile. When I am willing to have clogged bile ducts, because of a person who hardly thinks of me, or has no idea that he behaved like a total asshat, then I'm the crazy one. Good, because this is where my healing will begin. HELP.

I think she's right. So one of my jobs this year is to give up my resentments and grudges. Pray them away and let them go. To forgive and move on.

Step one in this process is to actually feel my feelings about the situation--to let myself fully feel the hurt, whether or not I've got all the facts. I don't think you can heal from a hurt until the wound has been fully exposed to the light. I have a habit of minimizing my hurt feelings. I have a habit of saying "who cares?" or "it doesn't matter."

That's one way hurt feelings fester into resentments and grudges, I'm pretty sure.

So I'm going to go through the painful process of feeling things, and then after that I can (begrudgingly, I'm sure) work on forgiveness. Because

a) forgiveness is required for my own mental health; and

b) it is required of me by the faith that I supposedly practice; and

c) I don't know what I don't know.

Here's the other thing I plan to do: Write back to the friends who write me. Call the friends who call. Be grateful for all the friends I have who continue to love me in spite of my own flawed self.


Susan Zimmerman said...


And isn't today the perfect day for such a resolution?

Tracy said...

I hear you! One of my brothers falls into this category for me. Definitely a case of I don't know what I don't know. But that's part of the problem. I don't if we have a problem. Or if it's just that we are in completely different seasons - us with adult kids, him with little kids. Is it because we are people of faith and he is not? We'll be seeing them on Sunday for a family picnic so we'll see.

The statement that has helped me a lot with letting go of stuff and forgiving is this:

"Is what I'm living for worth Christ's dying for?" I don't think Christ died so that I could remain all bound up and burdened by stuff for which he's already given me victory. Forgiveness is hard work but so worth it! I'll be praying you get to that place too.

Gumbo Lily said...

Yes, Amen and amen.

Jo said...

Oh, that line is so true - that first we have to acknowledge that we really hurt. I too am the person who glosses over hurt feelings and pretends that they really don't matter..

Nancy McCarroll said...

This is a true growth experience, forgiveness. I certainly have not mastered it. I have another daughter, sister to Julie, who is younger by 3.5 years. She has been estranged from me for four years, and I don't know why. Maybe it is mental health issues, but I really don't know. Her separation from me started early on, in her first primary school grades. It escalated through high school when she began smoking and went through a goth period in the 90's. She went on several trips with me while in her 20's and 30's, then full estrangement from about 2011-12. So hard to lose a child, one I treasured like a jewel. I pray for her constantly. That is all I can do, all you can do until you let your old friends go. But I cannot let Heidy go. She is in the hands of God.

magsmcc said...

I had a question, that I typed twice, but it seemed irrelevant in the wisdom of your words, and I deleted it. Stark stuff. These words are good words, Francis. AS always x

Gretchenjoanna said...

Thank you, Frances.

Pom Pom said...

I so agree with your last statements. We just do our part and love the way we know to love. I don't mind being the initiator and I do it for all the times in the past when I didn't get around to it, but friends were still willing to stay in relationship with me. I'm grateful. YOU are such a good thinker, so honest and true.

Kit said...

Hmmm, I have run into this kind of thing myself. But I just let the old relationships move on and I embrace new ones. Time alters us and others and change happens. I find that others also do not have the manners of response that others do. I like the ones with manners. :) Have a good weekend! Kit