“When we forgive, we are released from the bondage of the grudge.” Dr. Stephen LeBar, Pastor of Jenison Bible Church.
Grudges, or the longterm withholding of forgiveness, occur when our sense of justice has been offended. I may feel that I have not received the respect I deserve, the fruits of my labor, or someone I love has been hurt. We have been wronged, and we simmer with resentment. Grudges can also harm our own health and affect the people around us. They cause trouble and defile those around us.
“Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. 15 See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” Hebrews 12:14-15
When my oldest daughter was nearing kindergarten age, we noticed some differences that worried us. Most people could not understand her speech, not even my parents. She was tiny for her age. Sometimes she would fall down for no apparent reason. Other than that, she was a happy, beautiful, and compliant child. At the time, I also had a newborn daughter and a three year old son. I took them all along with me to my newborn’s appointments with our pediatrician. While there, I would bring up my concerns regarding my oldest daughter. He pooh poohed my concerns at every appointment.
My daughter was considered a “young five” because of her August birthday. All “young fives” were required to be tested to ascertain whether they would be in the young fives program or regular kindergarten. When she was tested, she was found to be at an equivalent age of 2.5 in reading readiness and math readiness. The evaluators told me that they suspected she had a speech impairment. The speech therapist found that her speech impairment placed her below the first percentile for speech and language development.
I wrote our pediatrician an angry letter asking why he had not told us that Erin had these developmental differences. He called me because he felt that we had a good relationship and he cared about our family. In response to my tearful and angry questioning he said, “Frankly my dear, I didn’t tell you because I don’t believe in early intervention.”
We changed pediatricians at that point because our insurance changed. But even if that had not happened, we would have stopped going to that doctor. Our relationship was broken. For many years whenever I would think about that conversation, fury would rise up within me. My daughter had been wronged. We had been robbed of the choice to obtain early intervention for her by his refusal to tell me what was going on in the face of direct and frequent questioning.
What if she had had the opportunity to receive early intervention? Would she have learned to read before the eighth grade?
I was held in bondage by that grudge for many years. I felt I had the right to be angry, to hate him in my heart. But at one point, I decided to forgive him and I was released from the bondage of that grudge. I was released from the effort of holding him responsible. By God’s strength and urging, I was able to practice mercy toward him in my own heart.
30 “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:30-32)