Read (from the New Living Translation)

Genesis 33:3-4

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.

Go Deep

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.

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58 comments
  1. Bekah: If God ever puts the woman in my life for me to marry, I hope I have the kind of marriage that you have.
    Your husband has it down. He doesn’t let it fester and turn into a grudge. He gets it out right away. Emotional hurt is like a physical wound, if you don’t treat it, the infection will set in and more problems develop. Emotional hurt is the same way. If you don’t treat it with forgiveness, then the infection, THE GRUDE, sets in and it will be harder for it to heal. It is amazing how God uses……emotional hurt. Because sometimes when you hurt someone or if they hurt you and then you both forgive, you end up even closer to each other than you were before it happened. I think your marriage just became even stronger by what happened with you two.
    I know what you mean by things that happened a long time ago. I grew up in an alcoholic household and believe me I think back and yes, I still get angry. I am working on it and doing my best to let it go. It does take time. Like Joy said, “forgiveness is a process”.
    I hope your Hubby is doing better. I cannot even imagine what he has been going through, physical health wise. Thank GOD he has a wife like you by his side.
    I love listening to all of you in the morning. You have a great show. However, tell Wally to quit picking on poor BETTY ROCK.

    Wayne Vogt

  2. Pamela Anne McCoy

    I’m with you in holding grudges. I have been really hurt by ones that I love most and have been accused of things that I’ve never done and the anger came and stayed. I was letting Satan win by holding onto that anger and now I can say that God is working in my heart and softening those hurt feelings and the road to reconciliation has begun with someone I thought was lost forever. Praise God.

    • Profile photo of Pastor Dave WAY-FM

      So glad that God knows how to being the “lost” back. Praying for His best, Pamela Anne!

    • Allison Klingenberg

      I can so relate to this. But, for me no rreal resolve with the family member. I do pray for her everyday, which has made it easier to forgive in my heart. I offered her forgiveness and that was rejected. So I pray.

  3. Perry

    This has been something I’ve needed. I tend to hold grudges instead of forgiving. That is something I desperately need to work on.

    • Profile photo of WAYFM_Candice

      So glad you were encouraged by this! I am praying for the strength and wisdom to recognize when you need to forgive and not hold a grudge! It is tough but we can do it!

  4. Rachael

    This was my night and morning with my husband. I had been holding grudges and was mad about all of them, all at once. We made up, but I was still growly. He then offered to DO something for me this morning, take on a kid project that would help me out… just to see me smile again. Sometimes we get better than we deserve. That’s forgiveness.

  5. Penny

    Us forgiveness and holding grudges is something I have always struggled with ( along with many other things ☺️) I think of unforgiveness and holding a grudge like weeds in the garden, they/it pop up everywhere. As soon as you think you have it under control, there it is again. I love Hebrews 12:15 as my go to verse; See to it that no one misses the grace (forgiveness) of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. Forgiveness is so freeing. Thank You Jesus!

  6. Denia Lara

    Love it .. Thanks Bekah 💕💖

  7. Profile photo of cameran_smith

    Ah man… this one hit home.
    I’m way too good at holding grudges too.

    • sue

      Kirsten, thanks for posting your comment today! I’m so thankful to be participating in this and to God for leading me to it. Although I’m not working with a person I was romantically involved with I am working with someone I hurt through gossip which also set a whole series of horrible words and actions into motion. People have lost their jobs and the small company my husband and I own has been severely damaged. I am self righteously embracing grudges and resentment in part because I offered forgiveness and it wasn’t accepted. I am learning and relearning (I learned that forgiveness is a moment to moment, hour to hour, day to day act after my husband had an affair years ago) to continue to take responsibility for what I contributed to the situation, offer forgiveness ( and not expect it to be offered in return) and to treat the people I hurt and have been hurt by as if I have been forgiven( because I have, thank you, God!!!).

  8. I guess God really wanted me to read this, FIRST THING!!! Why? I woke up feeling anger and unforgiveness towards an ex boyfriend (relationship of 13 years), whom I work with, who hurt me.

    The Lord has been there every step through this process and shown me some amazing love and given me tools to heal and forgive. A HUGE tool was listening to WAY FM!!!
    I woke up with a noisy, angry worried mind and then my thoughts turned towards this person. Thinking of what I would say or do.
    What I know is that unforgiveness not only hurts the person we are not forgiving, but it hurts us, becauseit distracts us- we are unable to see the light of God’s love and forgiveness, because we have forgotten what Jesus did for us. Ultimately it hurts God, because our eyes are turned away from the amazing love and healing He holds out for us every day! I sure am glad for today’s lesson and that the Lord has so much patience with me 😉

  9. Profile photo of Big Country

    How true that we expect to be forgiven but yet we view certain situations and offenses by others as unforgivable. It’s a lot easier said than done, but God forgave all of our offenses against him, so we are expected to extend the same forgiveness to others. It doesn’t matter if they deserve it or not or are repeat offenders, we didn’t deserve forgiveness in Christ either and sometimes especially me, we are repeat offenders. I definitely have needed these studies to be reminded of my grudge and unforgiveness I have against one person and that I need to forgive them and not hold grudges against them no matter what they have done or may do in the future. Thank you for sharing your story and a reminder of what forgiveness looks like and what it should look like for someone striving to live for Christ.

    • Profile photo of Pastor Dave WAY-FM

      “Big Country” – we all need the BIG heart of Christ! I’m so glad He freely gives it to us, aren’t you? I’ll take all I can get!

      • Profile photo of Big Country

        Pastor Dave- Yes Sir. He is simply amazing with the undeserving love he has extended to us.

  10. Joani

    I too hold onto grudges for a very long time. I’m hoping this series will help me to move forward, forgive easier and let go of my grudges. Thank you for being so real!

  11. Profile photo of Trevor Poling

    Good stuff, not easy to do, but it is The Way. Jesus teaches us to forgive. He died for us, pretty darn generous for the sinless creator of the world. Forgive early, forgive completely. I’ve learned that the hard way and recommend you do it. Holding grudges and malice hurt me way more than it hurt those I begrudged. Through Jesus, I’ve learned to let go and let God be God. thanks for the study!

  12. I know what you mean sometimes I get so frustrated and I will blurt something out and the minute I say it I already regret it and it is sometimes hard to apologize but I am working and praying for God to help me with that, thank you for sharing your story

  13. Daysha Butler

    This is absolutely wonderful and inspiring. I feel that God has really been speaking into my heart about forgiveness, and my life has been so much happier since I have began learning to forgive easier. I strive to forgive the way Jesus does, and I hope to get better and better at forgiving each day. I know with God’s help, I can forgive over and over again if I need to.

  14. Profile photo of Shannaw Martin

    My new husband is this way. He forgives quickly once I apologize. I’ve been hurt bad by my ex and he continues to hurt me any chance he can get. It is hard to forgive someone who keeps hurting you however my husband says it needs to be done in order to move forward.

  15. Cody Deno

    It is easy to hold grudges (like with my mom) but it is so much more difficult to lay down my pride and forgive. I guess the easy thing is rarely the right thing. Forgiveness is hard, but it is the right thing.

  16. Profile photo of Kariko

    Since day One, I’m humbled by what I read here and taken aback to my somehow non-existent relationships that really were so healthy, encouraging, loving caring and Godly. Thank you.

  17. Charlie

    Well I’ve been REALLY struggling with forgiveness lately, so this series is hammering the lesson in a very big and personal way! I have a sister who is bipolar and has caused a LOT of damage over the past few years. She very back-and-forth, cycling between “sweet as pie” and total viciousness. And in my mind I’ve cut her off from us a hundred times, but I keep coming back to the fact that she doesn’t know Jesus and is very mentally ill, and I’m THE ONLY ONE who talks to her about God at all, ever. And I know that Jesus calls us to forgive 70 x 7 times (which is a lot), so I have had to make stronger boundaries about walking away when she’s being nasty, but letting her back in when she’s kind and respectful. It’s been a training process for both of us!! But God has told me over and over to forgive her and be there for her. Thanks for the writings they have been so extremely helpful this week!

    • Jes

      I understand, my mother in law is bipolar and it is so hard. It’s like she just looks for things to be upset about and reads things into situations that aren’t really there. So much negativity. Two of her siblings have written her off.

  18. Profile photo of Chowchowma

    Bekah I can so relate to this. Much like Esau over time I have learned to let love rule and though I may entertain anger and bitterness for a moment I choose a time to remind myself of God’s great love for me and his grace. Just wanted to let you know Bekah that the grace you show everyday in the face of some tough stuff is inspiring. God bless and deliver you and your hubby.

  19. Profile photo of Crystal

    Bekah,
    Thanks for your transparency. I too hold grudges. I have a niece who is struggling with addiction and I’m raising her oldest child and the father’s parents are raising the other 2 children. My two biological kids are 18&13, little one is 5.
    There are times I get so angry that I can’t sleep in later that I’m up late rubbing his legs from growing pains, and so on. Then in the morning her looks at me with his cute baby blues and tells me her loves me and to have as good day at work. That makes it all worth it. Just wish I could get past the hurt.

  20. Profile photo of Knenoff00

    I am still holding a grudge against my brother for not coming to my graduation and wedding (they were 3 days apart). I don’t feel like he did everything he could to try to come. I also feel like once her got married he forgot he had little sisters and that his whole life became about his new wife and her family. We still talk and we get along because I have never said anything to him about these things it is just something that I have felt for almost 17 years now. This has definitely brought up some stuff to think about.

  21. Profile photo of lorilu
    lorilu

    B! Thank you much, for such honesty!
    I can, and as I read some of the comments, so can many others, relate to holding onto that anger/resentment/ hurt from being hurt!
    And yet, when I goof, or put my foot in my mouth, I’m sure quick to ask/hope/(dare I say expect!) instant forgive, forget, move on!!
    We’re not alone!
    I hold onto things, chew on the, rustle them around in my mind, go over things I should have said, etc, until I make myself ache.
    And you called it…”that feeling of entitlement…” I am so justified in how I feel…etc.
    I just have to laugh at myself sometimes— how ridiculous my mind gets when I feel wronged.
    Must
    Let
    Go

    Unforgiveness is like drinking poison and hoping the other person gets sick…
    Not doing that anymore!!

  22. Laura

    WOW! I needed to here this! I hold grudges but not for things someone has said or done to me but for what they have done to my kids or my husband! Several years ago my ex husband’s new wife wrote a very nasty letter to me accusing me of things and threatening my. She also sent copies of the letter to my kids! The kids were all adults but it still hurt and drove a huge wall between them and their dad. They didn’t talk to him for about 4 months and they still don’t talk to him much and are not as close as they used to be. I finally forgave her in my heart but have never told her and it does get to me sometimes. Part of me says why bother telling her because she doesn’t think she did anything wrong and has bragged about the letter over the years to my ex in-laws.

  23. Daisies4Me

    I can really relate to this study. Everyday when I read or listen to these testimonies, the same person keeps coming to my mind. This is not a surprise to me. I know the person that keeps coming to my head has not been forgiven and probably doesn’t even know the extent to which I am upset with them. It probably goes back 20 years. And it seems every little thing since then is blown [way] out of proportion. Sometimes this individual knows that a certain issue has bothered me, other times not so much.

    In my own personal experience, it seems it is easier for me to forgive a stranger rather than a close friend or family member. So my question is this: how do I either tell this individual what has festered for the past 20 years and/or move forward and not let things get out of proportion? I do feel that something needs to be said so that this individual has an opportunity to own up, explain &/or apologize. ( a caveat is this: there are times this individual has not put our children’s safety or best interest in its proper place of importance. and played favorites to my spouses sibling resulting in unfair treatment of him. etc)

  24. I think I have forgiven my ex-wife husband for all the abuse in our 23 year marriage. I have tried to forgive! But the thoughts of the abuse keep coming back in my head. Have i truly forgiven him? Am i holding a grudge? Any thoughts!

    • Profile photo of kskoerner

      Only God knows your heart.I can tell you from expirence that praying is the only thing that got me to forgiveness.

  25. Profile photo of CarrieAnn71272

    Through Jesus and my church, I have learned finally that forgiveness isn’t a one and done thing most of the time. It’s a journey of not only rebuilding trust but a journey to heal me. I was physically abused as a child by my parents. So bad, I have major spinal injuries. In 2012 someone hit me with their car and basically was the straw that broke the camels back. I’ve had 8 major surgeries since the car accident and a total of 19 surgeries over my life. I go through cycles with every surgery being mad at my parents and the lady that hit me. I get scared because I know the physical pain I’m in should of never occurred and I wouldn’t have to endure surgery after surgery. It has been the last 3 surgeries that I started letting God into these painful places and agreeing to His Will in hopes that through my physical pain, I can also heal my heart. My journey is far from over, but I am grateful God allows us to forgive…carrying the grudges of those who harmed me would be a much heavier burden to bare the rest of my earthly life, but detrimental to my Heavenly life. Thank you Jesus for helping me release grudges and allowing me to forgive…it has lightened my load.

  26. Profile photo of Katie
    Katie

    So hard to forgive sometimes I love your story Bekah I hope someday I find a man who is as quick to forgive as we are learning today you guys are amazing such an encouragement in my life!

  27. Pat Mix

    You have brought light to my current situation. I am headed to visit my son this week after years and months of grudges. I’m going to let it go with simple words with tremendous meaning. Thank you

  28. Profile photo of shawn
    shawn

    I can so relate to holding a grudge, I am truly a champ when it comes to that. I often find myself only looking at where I was wronged instead of at how the other person may have been going thru something or simply having one of those days. Too often I put my feelings and emotions first and make the choice to be mad, instead of following God’s example and forgiving regardless. Today was a good reading reminding me where I need to improve.

  29. Jennifer

    Bekah,

    Don’t be like me and wait until you’re almost 41 to try and right your wrongs. I am the exact way about holding grudges and I’m ilk poetically be trying to make that up for the rest of my life. It’s been hard to overcome, but God has been working on me. I’ve been hurt an awful lot from a lot of people and like you guys have said in the show, “Hurting people hurt.” I feel like when I can’t forgive, I hurt others because I want them to hurt like they’ve hurt me. It’s such a wrong attitude to have, but like I said, God is working on me. Thanks for sharing.

  30. Profile photo of Reggie

    So true, but this is about not holding grudges. Twelve years ago one month to the day after i married the most amazing woman her best friend her “secret maid of honor” (didn’t have the title but as the living friend did all the work) was tragically killed in a car crash. So much pain for my wife and all who knew this wonderful person. At the funeral we saw her abusive ex husband, obviously emotional, everyone looking at him with less than loving stares it was probably the first time I ever felt like God placed his hands on my shoulders and said go show him he can be loved and forgive, he may not deserve it but neither did you when I forgave you. It was amazing i really felt like God’s hands and feet.

  31. Profile photo of mh0912

    I’m with you Bekah . I am not good with forgiveness and do the same thing. I will let it fester, but will expect forgiveness from someone else. It’s great to know I am not alone. I am grateful for the world’s biggest small group it is really helping me deal with my forgiveness.

  32. Profile photo of Margie

    Sounds like you have a very good husband. I’m more like you & my husband is more like yours. He can blow up & get it off his chest & then he’s okay. When I get mad I tend to hold on to it a few days. I need to pray more that God will help me to let go & not stay angry!!

  33. Profile photo of frankiegee25

    I, like Bekah, have a very hard time forgiving people. Everyone, not just people in my past, but my sister and husband!! I pray about it but I have to let go of my will!

  34. I can definitely relate to holding grudges and with a lot of God filled women, I was able to let go of each grudge I held onto, so I could be set free. My thinking was “If I forgive them, then I condone what they have done”. That was a very big obstacle for me. It took me a looong time to get to this point and yet, here I am. Being forgiving instead of rensentfull 🙂

  35. Profile photo of faeluvr12

    I’m the matter when it comes to holding grudges. I’ve just recently decided that it hurt me easy too much to hold on to them, so I’m training myself to let them go. I lift them up to Good as soon as I feel like I’m holding on to something for way to long and it feels like a giant weight has been lifted off my shoulders. Thank you for sharing your story. It is a great reminder of hour we should release a person from our judgement.

  36. Paula

    I have learned that when you finally decide to FORGIVE someone ,you are saying to yourself “I can NOT punish them . Give it to GOD and let it go and be free and move on and find some one to help with anything ,I think that makes GOD smile!

  37. Tina Ledbetter

    Such a powerful message. Thank you for sharing your story.

  38. Joni DeBord

    Justifying resentment and bitterness within my own heart…oh, how often we justify what we think we deserve or the wrong we do. And it’s still wrong. Relationships are hard. Sometimes the person may never ask forgiveness of us or ever even admit to doing wrong at all, but what I am to focus on, and the only thing I can control, is how am I going to respond to the Holy Spirit when he points out my own sin? I must let it go and surrender my pain and bitterness to Him.

  39. Shelly

    I needed to read this. I am horrible about holding grudges. I hold onto them as tight and as long as I possibly can sometimes. I hate when people are upset with me and yet I struggle so hard with forgiveness. This is one area of my life where I know I need serious work. I also know that I need God to shape my heart, mind, and thoughts in order to be the person he calls me to be.

    • Profile photo of Pastor Dave WAY-FM

      Praying for you, Shelly. Entrusting you to our loving Lord, Who never grows weary of shaping us into His image.

  40. Pip

    I could use some help and prayer if any are willing to give it.
    I have a major issue with forgiveness, at least forgiveness in the way it is often presented.
    I get forgiveness in the way Bekah described it above, someone wrongs you (or you wrong someone) apologies are made, forgiveness happens and everyone moves on with their lives.
    But I really have an issue when people use forgiveness as a cop out. I mean this in the sense that people either completely ignore that someone was wronged or feels wronged, or my favorite, when people deliberately do something wrong that pass it off as ” well it’s okay because you have to forgive me.” I always thought that the purpose of forgiveness was to try and mend a relationship.
    I also have a problem when people mistake forgiveness with trust or with immediate resolution. As Bekah mentioned, when Jacob was forgiven by Esau, their relationship still wasn’t necessarily immediately mended. There are times when it seems as if, yes forgiveness is in order but that doesn’t necessarily I have the same relationship with someone afterwards.
    And I have a major problem with myself. I’m always trying to figure out where the line between forgiveness and misplaced trust is. I also run across problems where I want to fogrive someone. I want to drop the issue, regardless of whether anyone actually cares about resolving anything because I don’t want to keep living my life in anger or with this block in the relationship. But I physically can’t. My mind keeps going down thought lines of anger and resentment and replaying the problem in my head and lamenting the fact that nothing is going to be resolved. I tell myself that I need to get off this line of thought because it’s not fixing anything but it literally won’t go away. It’s about as futile as getting rid of a song stuck in your head.

    I could really use help and prayers. I’m open to advice but not if it’s the standard “well you just need to not be angry and forgive cuz that’s what Christians do” speil, because like I said, that’s obvious to me and I’ve heard it all so much that it sounds super insincere at times.

    • Profile photo of Pastor Dave WAY-FM

      Hey Pip, I am happy to pray for you. We all need it. Forgiveness is hard, that’s for sure, especially when Jesus tells us we “must”. I am His follower, so I must act like His disciple. I have been obedient to my Lord. As far as others who do not view sin & forgiveness as serious as Christ, He alone knows their hearts & motives & I can trust His justice in His time. It is true: Forgiveness does not mean forgetting nor that the relationship is the same as it was before. I ask God to keep loving [Command #2, Matthew 22.37-40], & I ask Him for the wisdom to know how to build edifying relationships. About not “dropping the issue” … you do get a song out of your head eventually. How do you do that? It gets replaced by something else that lodges in the forefront of your mind. Try these on for size [Philippians 4.8]. Keep filling my mind & life with His stuff [Philippians 4.6-9]. Wow, we’re talking real discipline here, aren’t we [Luke 9.23-26; 1 Corinthians 9.24-27; Philippians 3.7-21]. I’ll pray for you & you pray for me, Pip, so that we both hear from our Redeemer, “well done, good & faithful servant.”

  41. Sheri Bode

    My boyfriend at the time had not been faithful. It lead to a breakup. I was devastated. Many times he would come back around and each time I had forgiven him only to be let down again. This hurt me over and over and caused many more breakups. I would hold onto anger, to hurt, to grudges. I had told him many times that I forgave him only to be let down.
    This had turned into a cycle of mistrust, doubt, hurt and not knowing if I know how to truly forgive or even knowing if I know how!!
    I have prayed that God help me, to teach me and to just learn to walk away and be done.
    I have hurt in ways that I didn’t know was possible. I truly want to forgive! I just need to know how.