Holding a grudge is like dragging a heavy anchor through life

Are we singles more prone to holding a grudge? Does all our alone-time lend itself to ruminating over our hurts so we can't let things go?

Some fixations are like anchors, slowing us down, keeping us from being nimble and free. People who are prone to vengeful thinking may be dragging a dozen or more of these psychological burdens behind them until each day becomes a titanic struggle, powered only by hate.

That's no way to live! It's sick, and we need to recognize that.

You may say, "Easier said than done, Jack. Somebody hurt me and they were wrong."

Recognizing where you are, and are not

If you're a Christian, or even if you're not, we're all pretty talented at rationalizing. We can make up excuses to engage in any kind of behavior, even the self-destructive kind. Especially the self-destructive kind.

It started with Adam and Eve and hasn't stopped since. One of the toughest lessons I had to learn was:

No matter how much we want it to be, life is not fair. It should be, but since sin entered the world, life just is not fair and never will be.

Every time we get cheated, stepped on, insulted, or betrayed, we know that's not how life is supposed to go. No matter how many times something unjust happens to you, you never get used to it. Never.

But this is Earth, and not heaven. Keep that truth in mind. While we can't allow ourselves to get cynical and not see good in anything, we can be cautious. The Bible calls it shrewdness.

The sheep analogy in the Bible can be taken only so far. When Jesus warns his disciples (that includes you and me) to be shrewd as serpents but harmless as doves (Matthew 10:16), he recommends a quality impossible with sheep. They don't have the ability to be shrewd. You and I do. The wolves Jesus wants us to guard ourselves against are the users, crooks, and godless of this life.

Shrewdness helps you protect yourself without doing harm to others. It enables you to see a "punch" coming so you can block it or dodge it. It helps you spot those people who leave chaos in their wake, so you can deal with them wisely.

The twisted pleasure of sin

I've said many times on this site that sin is pleasurable. That's why people do it. It's also dangerous. Many unbelievers get a thrill out of doing the forbidden and getting away with it—or so they think.

We often encounter people who are all for themselves with no regard for anyone else. Most of us have been hurt by them too. As they step on faces on their way to the top, or wherever they're going, they think exploiting others is their privilege. They may not even see you and me as people with feelings. Con men dehumanize their victims by calling them "the mark."

Christians can be assertive. We can desire personal success. The difference between us and the wolves is how we go about pursuing our goals. Jesus's command to "do to others what you would have them do to you" (Matthew 7:12) is more than just a suggestion.

When someone hurts us, we face a real temptation. Holding a grudge against them is sin. Holding a grudge feels good because sin feels good. We can fantasize about all the ways we'll get back at the person. We can plot how we'll get our revenge. We feel we're entitled to hang onto our grudge because we were injured and have a right to strike back.

But we don't have that right, despite the Bible's "eye for an eye" verse. Listen to what Paul says:

"Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: 'It is mine to avenge; I will repay,' says the Lord." (Romans 12:19, NIV)

Life's hardest task

Letting go of our grudges demands that we perform life's hardest task: trusting God.

We want to even the score ourselves. That's why there's so much violence in the world. We want to take justice into our own hands. There's a sick thrill in getting revenge, but friend, it's always wrong. Always.

After Jesus's resurrection, did he go on a rampage killing the men who crucified him? He did not. On the cross, he asked his heavenly Father to forgive them. He did not wreak revenge, though he would have had every right.

But what happened to Herod, Pilate, the high priest and the others who conspired in Jesus's execution? What happened after they died? If they did not confess their sin, repent, and accept Christ as their true Savior, then God the Father took his rightful vengeance on them.

Can you trust God? Can you turn your grudges, hates, resentment and hurts over to him? That's the only way to live free.

The worst grudge of all

Millions of single people are holding a grudge against God. I know what that's like because I did it for years. Let me tell you how I gradually got over it.

At no time in my life have I ever given up on God, not when I had cancer (twice), when women I wanted to marry left, when I was unemployed, or when I couldn't get more than a dozen novels I had written published.

But I was angry at him. I thought he was treating me unfairly.

After years of ranting in my prayers and throwing temper tantrums toward God, I finally became spiritually exhausted. Maybe I came to the conclusion God is always right, or maybe it finally dawned on me that he's God and I'm not.

So I dumped all my pain and frustration on him. I said, "You deal with it because I can't."

Over time, he healed me. He took me back in as if I hadn't been an Olympic-class fool. And I learned one of the most important lessons in life:

God doesn't hold grudges.

Instead, God is gracious. He's forgiving. That was the message of the parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32). God's love is so colossal that it wipes away our kindergarten-level desires and replaces them with the assurance that eternal life will make everything right—forever.

If you're holding a grudge against God, as I did, it's time to let it go. It's time to let him heal your relationship with him so you can know peace again.

We singles have enough forces working to make us dissatisfied and unhappy. We don't need to add to them by sabotaging ourselves. Freedom comes from an intimate relationship with Jesus. Do what it takes on your part to make that happen.

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