I like to hold on to things I should throw out. Like grudges.
Before I started packing for our fast-approaching move, I promised myself I’d throw things out. It’s not that I’m a full-fledged hoarder. And I know I’ll never be a minimalist. But I believe I can find a healthy middle ground. A place where I don’t get lost amid my own belongings every time I enter my closet.
I thought I was doing okay on this. Last night I tossed out several old pairs of shoes. I have a tote bag full of clothes to donate. I even dumped some ancient jewelry.
But then I filled — no, stuffed my largest suitcase full of clothes. It was less than half the clothes I actually own. A fourth, maybe. Or a fifth.
I could probably get rid of a lot of this, I thought as I stared at the rows of tightly rolled garments. But then I laughed. Nah. I zipped up the suitcase and dragged it out to the living room, placing it with the rest of the boxes, tubs and luggage. Oh well, I shrugged. Who knows when I might need something out of there?
A Grudge Hoarder
Spiritually speaking, I like to hold on to things I should throw out. Like grudges. I know I don’t need them now, I tell myself. But what if I do someday?
How could you need a grudge? Say you have a fight with your friend. He does something to hurt you. You say you forgive him, and you want to mean it. But you tuck the memory of the hurt away. Because the next time he hurts you, you want to be prepared. Remember what you did before? Remember how mean you really are?
Or maybe you want to save it for the next time you mess up. If you hang on to a few good grudges, you can wrap yourself in them, like a protective cloak. Remember how bad you hurt me all those times before?, you can say. How dare you be upset over my little mistake?
Whacked, Thumped and Tripped
Maybe you’re not familiar with this line of thinking. I sure am. I’m also well-acquainted with what happens when grudges pile up, just like extra junk in my closet.
When I venture into the depths of my closet, where all the things I should have thrown out long before dwell, I get whacked in the face by old clothes on hangers, thumped on the head by unnecessary “keepsakes” falling from their shelves, and tripped up by shoes, bags and papers scattered on the floor.
When I venture into the depths of my heart, where all the old grudges reside, the same thing happens. I get whacked in the face by old anger. Thumped on the head by unnecessary discontentment. Tripped up by self-pity, self-righteousness and self-obsession. It’s a disaster.
Throw It Out
The Bible has a lot to say about forgiveness. And my habit of hoarding grudges doesn’t jibe with any of it. “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice,” Ephesians 4:31 says. In verse 32, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
How has God forgiven me? Here are a few clues. “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us,” Psalm 103:12 says. And in Isaiah 1:18, “‘Come now, let us settle the matter,’ says the Lord. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.'”
And what happens if I fail to show this kind of forgiveness? “But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:15.
Yikes. Not what a grudge hoarder wants to hear. Is it what I need to hear? Absolutely.
Tonight I’ll continue the difficult job of packing. This time, I’m really going to stick to the even harder task of throwing stuff out. And all the old grudges I’ve been hoarding? It’s time to throw those out, too.