Read (from the New Living Translation)
3 Then Jacob went on ahead. As he approached his brother, he bowed to the ground seven times before him. 4 Then Esau ran to meet him and embraced him, threw his arms around his neck, and kissed him. And they both wept.
Bekah from The Wally Show relates all-too-well with the idea of “holding a grudge.” She has a delightful way of explaining how she stays inspired to let go of anger and run toward forgiveness.
Last week, I said something that hurt my husband. I had chosen my words poorly, yet carefully, and I knew that the second those words left my mouth, they had landed hard.
Immediately, I begin apologizing. “I’m sorry! I didn’t mean it! I’m tired! I don’t know what I was thinking! Please forgive me!”
And just as immediately, he responds, “That was too far. But I know you didn’t mean it. Of course, I forgive you.”
And that was that. I thought he’d be upset about it for days, but within seconds, he had moved on to the next topic.
Boom. Forgiven. Done.
Yes, I’m married to a saint. No, I have nothing in common with him when it comes to forgiveness. In fact, I hold grudges like it’s an Olympic sport. I can tell you the name and birthplace of every bully I had in school. I can give you a play-by-play of any given argument from 10 years ago.
I’m not good at forgiveness, even if it’s just a small thing. I let it fester and become a monster of an issue, even though I expect instant forgiveness when I wrong someone else.
Jacob and Esau were brothers who knew a thing or two about grudges. Their entire relationship was a grudge. It started with each brother being loved more by different parents, and it escalated when Jacob stole everything from Esau and Esau threatened to kill him. (Genesis 25, 27, 32-33)
Years later, it all comes to a head when Jacob hears that Esau is coming for him. This is it. It’s payback time for little brother. Before the confrontation, Jacob tries to bribe Esau by sending gift after gift after gift in the hopes that Esau will spare his life.
Yet after all this wrong, Esau runs to his brother and greets him in a sign of forgiveness, instead of with death.
In a relationship riddled with drama and grudges, it took one person looking beyond himself to extend that forgiveness. Esau had every right to hold a grudge against Jacob….forever. But he chose not to. It may have taken him 20 years to get to that place, and it doesn’t mean their relationship was sunshine and rainbows from that point forward, but they made peace.
So often, I get a feeling of entitlement with my grudges—that I deserve to feel resentment and bitterness toward the person that wronged me.
But I’ve been on the receiving end of someone looking beyond their own pride and choosing to forgive me. As we’re discussing this entire series, it’s freeing for both the one receiving forgiveness and the one offering it.
It’s almost painful to think of all the freedom I’ve missed out on because of my long list of grudges. So I’m working hard to drop some of my baggage and learning to forgive as quickly as my husband does… before my grudge list gets out of control.