Sydney Harris wrote a newspaper column once about visiting a Quaker friend who lived in a large city and bought his daily newspaper from a newsstand. Harris once accompanied his friend and observed his courteous response to the rather surly man selling papers. Back in the apartment, Harris commented on his friend’s action. The friend asked: “Why not? Why should I let him determine how I’m going to act?”
It’s extremely easy to live in a perpetually reactive mode, to allow someone else’s rudeness or malice to determine automatically how we will respond. Perpetuating every vicious cycle we encounter is all too common.
“But you can’t allow people to walk all over you,” you may be saying. True. But it’s also true that we always have more options for responding than we often admit. The person who forgives will always benefit because he or she has put a burden down, has taken his or her life off “hold.” The person who is forgiven may get the message.
Couldn’t each of us give up at least one grudge? Doing so might be worth far more than anything else we could give up.