I make the same resolution every year. It’s always to try to be the best I can be for that year. It is a broad goal, but it works for me. It allows me to pursue my goals with all my heart and helps me work things out on the inside. I have been blessed with a great mind, but this can be a problem because it’s hard for me to forget things. This causes me to be burdened with the memory of being wronged by someone or the memory of me hurting someone’s feelings.
One Sunday, my preacher announced that he would be doing a book study with our congregation. We were having some problems in our church at that time and I personally think the book study was his subtle way of helping us work through these issues. Unfortunately, everyone didn’t participate in the study and I think we still have some tension, but I found the book to be very helpful. I didn’t participate in the study either, but I did order and read the book on my own.
It is called Forgiveness: Finding Peace Through Letting Go, by Adam Hamilton. In the book, Hamilton uses a backpack full of rocks as a metaphor with how our grudges actually burden us as much (maybe even more) than they burden the person who did the wrong. He explains that we are wronged on different levels and that the small things can add up to a heavy backpack. Each time someone disagrees with us or says something about us, a small pebble is put in our backpack. If this happens often, the weight becomes very heavy.
Some may say, “Well those people should be nicer.” You’re absolutely right, they should, but in reality people are very competitive and can become vindictive. We have to remember that most of the time (I would say 85%) people talk about us because they are jealous or because they are ashamed of their own shortcomings. If you try and make them apologize, they become defensive and you both continue to argue. Both parties believe they are “right” and you cannot resolve the conflict. If we can just forgive, the burden is no longer on us and only on the person who did the act.
The book is very clear that some acts are worse than others, but the message that really stuck to me was about the small things; the verbal disagreements. When we were kids, we use to say, “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” It’s funny that as adults, we can’t remember this little statement of genius. I can promise you that when you are on your death bed, the last thing you will care about are those who hurt your feelings. All you will see is those who love you.
So here’s the assignment for us…instead of clouding our heart and mind with grudges because of someone’s words, let 2013 be the year when we start dropping the pebbles out of your backpack. Forgive them and take the weight off, so that we can “stand tall” and embrace those that love you. Wouldn’t life be much happier if we just focused on those that bring us happiness? Our time on this earth is too short to spend it reflecting on sadness and disappointment. If we do, we may miss that life-changing event waiting for us in the future.
Happy New Year!