Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Letting Go

I can be pretty stubborn. Tenacious, even. Which is a wonderful thing for an author. It's less so when it comes to grudges.

Several years ago (okay, 7. Seven. Yes, I said it. SEVEN. I'm not proud of that.) I got into it, shall we say, with a colleague. He was a higher-up, but we were serving on a committee together and we locked horns. Harsh words were spoken. We retreated, and publicly, at least, we established a sort of detente. We played nice when we had to, when we saw each other, but I was still irritated. I knew, you see, that I was right. And I wasn't shy about airing my feelings--hurt, self-righteous, etc.--with those who knew both of us.

Yeah, it was like that. It made me feel icky, but I couldn't let go.

It became a habit. I didn't even have to give it any thought. I was so sure I was right, of course, so that made it okay, at least in my mind.

Then, yesterday, I came home and had a phone message from him. He had come across some tickets to a sporting event that he wasn't going to be able to use. And, he knew I'd love them. So, he was offering them to me. Just as a kindness. There were lots of other people who'd like them. He had to know that. People who hadn't been snotty to him, hadn't held on to hurt feelings and anger and being "right." But, he reached out to me. With grace.

I was taken aback, to say the least. And humbled. And, of course I accepted them. To be very honest, I was embarrassed at my behavior toward him--not for the first time, I admit, but I can say now, certainly for the last time.

His gesture allowed me to let go of the grudge, the hurt feelings.

To paraphrase (poorly) C. S. Lewis, letting go of a grudge doesn't change the other person, it changes me.

Later, when I was telling my husband about the offer, he reminded me that we had tickets to a different sporting event that we couldn't use. I knew this man would love them. So, when I went to pick up the tickets from him, I was able to give him the other ones. It never would have occurred to me to offer them to him before.

And in the "ticket exchange" and in our mutual gratitude, I think he sensed the change in me; I hope so.

Forgiveness feels really good, letting go of grudges feels even better. Kind of like when the grinch's "heart grew three sizes that day."

So, that's my report about Day 2 of my 21-Day Challenge--it feels really good.

As I discovered, letting go of hard feelings is a big part of being nice. And you're rarely as right as you think you are.


  1. Thanks for sharing this, Judy, even though it reveals something you probably would rather not have shared. ;-)

    The thing about holding a grudge is that it hurts you more than it hurts the other person. You give energy away, instead of using your force for good, and it diminishes you. Too many people never, ever get that, sadly. Don't you feel more free today than you did yesterday?

  2. That's exactly right, Karen. And it's started me thinking about other grudges I need to let go as well.

  3. That's a tough one. My excellent memory can be both a curse and a blessing: I have a hard time forgiving because I never forget. It's more like Confucious: Fool me once, your fault. Fool me twice, mine.

  4. Forgive and forget is almost always "right." And is it serendipity that this would happen as you were Just Being Nice?

  5. Nice post. Makes me face the embarrassment I feel that I won't have chance to give up a grudge with some relatives or acquaintances because they are not longer around. Time passed by somehow. Then they passed on. So, I am going to make an effort to let go of grudges from this day forward. Thank you for sharing your own story because now I can rewrite my own life plot. No reason to keep these sorts of things alive. Just need to set things right and move on. Thanks!