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The other day I met with a guy I hadn’t seen for many years. The conversation went a little like this:
Me: So, uh, I really wanted to talk to you, cause, ummm...
Guy: Cause what? You can tell me.
Me: Well, cause I’ve kind of hated you for the past five years.
Guy: What?! Why?
Me: Cause five years ago, I was struggling with being gay, and then you spoke and said some stuff that sounded really homophobic. I was planning on finally asking for help that day, but after you spoke I changed my mind.
I braced myself for the reaction. Was this Christian guy going to get offended and lash out at me? Was he going to just get up and walk away?
The guy didn’t do any of the things I feared he would do. Instead, he looked me in the eyes and said, “I’m SO sorry.” And he said it in that real honest kind of way (as opposed to the not honest politician sort of way).
We had a good conversation after that. At first he thought I was living a gay lifestyle, so he told me that he loved me and cared for me no matter what I did. He said he wished that one day I would find comfort in God instead of in other men.
I quickly corrected him and told him that I fight my desires every day. I explained that once I worked up the courage to tell people, my struggles got a lot easier. Once I told people what I was going through, I stopped wondering, “What if they all hate me?”
Instead, I started thinking, “I can’t believe these people still love me.” And while this thought has never made my struggles go away, it has given me a stronger resolve to fight. Before I left, the guy prayed for me and gave me a hug.
I felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I also felt guilty that I had waited 5 years to have this conversation. “God, if I’ve really hurt someone,” I prayed,
“Please have them talk to me right away. Don’t let them hold it in for as long as I did.”
The whole conversation with the guy couldn’t have lasted more than an hour, but within that hour, 5 years of bitterness melted away. Not all such conversations have turned out as spectacularly for me, but if you feel bitter against someone, you should take any opportunity you can to make things better, even if it means opening up your heart to someone you don’t like.
There always seems to be that guy (or girl) in your life that fills you with anger and frustration every time you think about them. Whenever you happen to walk by them, you think, “Please don’t talk to me. Please don’t talk to me.” Most of the time, they don’t talk to you and you continue to feel that anger towards them in the depths of your heart.
Stop doing that. Go up to that person, but not in an angry way. Make yourself vulnerable and show them how you feel. Hope for an apology from them, but be ready to apologize for some crazy thing they confront you with. It might not always work out perfectly, but it should lift the weight of the bitterness you’ve been holding in. Life can be enjoyed so much more when you don’t have a gazillion past grudges holding you down.
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Questions: Have you ever struggled with holding grudges? What keeps you from talking with people who you dislike? How do you think you would feel if you talked with someone you held a grudge against?
This guest post was part of a guest post series called "Living to the Fullest." Interested in joining in? I'm still looking for submissions! Just write up a post, or even just an idea, and e-mail it my way!
image credit: windchime - sxc.hu