This past week, I had interesting conversations with two different people on two separate occasions. I’ll call them Person A and Person B.
In the conversation I had with Person A, she was talking about her sister and how mean, obnoxious, and utterly despicable of a person she was. Person A spent close to two hours recounting a half-dozen separate occasions from the past when her older sister had basically ruined her life. From her stories, Person A’s sister did sound like a horrible person -- I gasped and shook my head as she reenacted her sister’s cruel way of cutting a person with her words.
The longer Person A talked about her sister, the more heated she became. Pretty soon, what began as a light-hearted discussion escalated into a full-out venting-session, and by the end of it, Person A was not happy at all. She ended the conversation on a rather negative note, saying that the sight of her sister brought back a lot of painful memories and that after all these years, she knew her sister had never changed and would never change.
A few days later and on a completely different note, I had a conversation with Person B about a recent falling-out between him and one of his coworkers. Apparently, his coworker had shouted and yelled at him in front of all his customers and coworkers over a very small issue. I actually knew Person B's coworker and had personally experienced how mean he could be at the workplace, so I wanted to know everything about their fight, and I was so ready to agree with all his complaints and take Person B’s side against his coworker.
But Person B merely kept his cool when he described what happened, and didn’t say anything bad about his coworker at all. Even I was like, “Come on, why didn’t you tell him off? You can’t let him run all over you like that!” Person B’s response was, “I know [my coworker] may be hard to deal with sometimes, but deep down he’s just letting off steam. No point staying upset at him -- I’d rather move on.”
Person A and Person B's attitudes and responses to the people who had seriously offended them were in such contrast to each other that it made me realize: there are two types of people in this world. The first type being people who know how to let go, and the second type being people who don’t want to let go.
So, which type are you, Person A or Person B? Have you let go of the things people have done or said to you in the past that have deeply offended you?
Here’s how you know you haven’t chosen to "let it go:"
- You still feel deeply weighed down by the thought or sight of this person. Feelings of sadness, anger, and frustration are tell-tale signs of not letting it go.
- You keep replaying what this person has said or done to you in your mind. It can be something as small as a mean comment they made to you 5 years ago -- but if you can still hear that comment being played back in your head, you haven't let it go.
- You feel sorry for yourself as a result. Your thoughts are, "Life is so unfair, why did I ever run into such a horrible person?"
- You constantly bring up the past in your conversations -- telling your friends about how they’ve wronged you and all the reasons why you really, really don’t like them. You may not have realized this yourself, but you've probably retold that story of when-that-person-hurt-you to your friends about a hundred times. But it's something you can't help doing.
- You find all types of reasons to become annoyed with this person. Sometimes, it can even be something they're wearing that gets you started on a whole mental-rampage against that person. Once you begin to utterly dislike that person, you begin to dislike everything about that person.
- You secretly hope for the day this person gets served with all the wrong you think they deserve. You may not personally take revenge on that person, but when you find out something went wrong in their lives, you can't help but feel a tinge of satisfaction.
If you never "let it go," you allow yourself to be so consumed with all your negative thoughts towards this person that you slowly become bitter in all other aspects of life. Before you know it, you've got a garden of weeds in your heart, and it affects your mindset, your mood, your outlook on life, and your friendships and relationships -- because when you hurt, you hurt other people.
Just remember: when you harbor any sort of resentment towards a person, you're not hurting the other party -- you're only hurting yourself. Yes, you may not have deserved to be hurt by that person in that way, but instead of dwelling on that, dwell on the fact that you deserve to be happy and to be free from the bondage of a bitter heart.
"Don't let the sun set on your anger (Ephesians 4:26)," or in other words, don't stay angry at someone more than a day. People will hurt you, and yes, it'll sting for some time. But it'll heal if you let it go, and let God fill you with His unfailing love and mercy towards you.