Resentment and unforgiveness can be destructive things to let stay in your heart. You no doubt taught that to your children and maybe you even give that advice to your grandchildren to help them get passed their childhood arguments and petty squabbles they have with their siblings.
The amazing thing is that by the time you have reached the senior citizen stage of life as you have, you probably are carrying your own fair share of resentments and things you cannot forgive that is nothing more than left over baggage from life. And learning to forgive the offenses of the past and “let it go” can mean the difference between living a happy and peaceful retirement life or living in a nonstop treadmill of brooding about things that happened long ago.
It is strange that we are able to give advice about forgiving others to our children and grandchildren but so often, it’s us who have trouble letting things go. We rationalize holding on to resentment because the offense is much more grievous in adult life than the little things children pout about when they become resentful. But realistically, to the child that offense is just as serious as the one you are holding in your heart. And the skill of learning to forgive that offense and release the resentment from your heart is one that we need to learn as much as the children do.
The truth is that resentment and unforgiveness doesn’t accomplish anything. Sometimes we think of the moment of offense when a boss, a coworker, a friend or a relative offended us and we vow that we “will never forget what she did.” That vow is more a death sentence for you than it is any punishment for the one who offended you.
I have heard it said that resentment has a way of “growing legs and following you around”. It’s an apt image because long after the offense is over, that resentment can live on in your heart taunting you and making you miserable. Meanwhile the one that offended you no doubt has no idea you are angry at all and is going about his or her way happily. Your resentment accomplishes nothing except stealing your peace from you and making you bitter and obsessive which is not an attractive trait in Grandma or Grandpa or anyone for that matter.
By isolating that feeling of resentment and simmering anger and seeing that it really has nothing at all to do with the original offense, your rational side takes over and steals the offense from the emotional side that continues to vow never to forgive. Forgiveness is not about saying what happened is ok. Forgiveness is about saying that negative event will no longer have power over you and you choose to say, “It doesn’t matter any more.”
Resentment is a poison that can get inside you and debilitate you for life. In a way, by continuing to hold that resentment, you also continue to give that enemy power to hurt you day after day forever. So in a way, forgiveness is a way of stealing from your enemy or the one that hurt you any further power to hurt you more. So see it as an offensive weapon where you simply deny access to your precious emotional energy to any past offense.
By learning to let it go, you are actually doing something good for you. You will be happier, less burdened and it will actually help your health. And you will no longer be a hypocrite when you sit down with your grandchildren and counsel them to “Live and let live and let it go.” And when they see you modeling healthy forgiveness, you will empower them as well. And that makes it all worthwhile.