Grudges, offenses taken and even general hatred usually isn’t the subject of comic relief, but just as almost everything else in my life, mine seems to be. Some I rant and rave about, others I keep to myself either because they are too big for me to wrap my brain around or too small to merit sharing.

I took this attitude into a worship service a few years ago, and was met full in the face by my pastor, James Featherstone, and he didn’t even know it. His message was on forgiveness or as we might say, “getting over it.”

To materially emphasize his point, the pastor directed the ushers to pass the collection plates containing small polished ornamental rocks. We were each to take one, our choice. Their purposes were yet to be realized by us.

He shared with us scripture regarding God’s word on holding grudges, hating and resenting others. He implored us to examine our hearts and lives that we might identify those things in them and address them at that time.

God is clear to his people about the holding of grudges and the subsequent damage that results. We cannot be the best that we can be if we waste our energies on hatred and grudges.

Now, I’m fairly certain that I don’t hate anybody, but I will hold a grudge in a New York minute if I perceive that someone has been unfair to me or anyone I hold dear.

Well, it’s not exactly a grudge. It’s that I just don’t readily forget when someone is unkind or unfair to me. I also don’t forget it when someone IS kind and fair. I don’t reserve my considerable memory bank for bad things — a great deal of my joy comes from that same unrelenting memory.

Hero sometimes wishes that I would forget things, and I’m sure that I hold on to slights long after the bad actor has forgotten that I exist in the world. Nevertheless, I am ever attentive to my pastor as he instructed us to let go of those things which deter us in our efforts to live good Christian lives.

I listened. I followed the text. And, I knew that everything he spoke was right.

When the sermon was over, he offered an invitation to anyone who had a decision that they wished to make public or a request for prayer. We Baptists do this at the conclusion of every church service.

However, this one was a bit different. We were invited to come forward during the time of invitation to place our rock (our burden or grudge) on the altar and determine to give it up. Almost immediately, the altar was flooded with repentant grudge-holders and those offering forgiveness to others. I did not go forward.

It wasn’t until several weeks later, maybe even months, that the subject of forgiveness came up in Sunday School. Somebody in my class had peeked. And, she challenged me regarding my rock.

I made a full admission that my rock was safely contained in my vanity at home, and that I often examined and reexamined my heart and mind regarding my unresolved issue.

It wasn’t until last week, when an uncommon afternoon at home allowed me the opportunity to catch a glimpse of Oprah. It wasn’t on purpose, but I was struck by the handsome family (mother, father, two college-aged sons) who sat with her on her yellow couch.

They were the family of Don Ohlmyer (television sports producer) and actress Susan Saint James. Their family was missing the 12-year old son who had died last Thanksgiving in a plane crash. Their mission there was one of hope. They talked about how they had survived the horrid year after his death.

They talked about his specialness, their love for him and their sadness at his death. And, then the father said the thing that I needed to hear. He told of the courage of his wife, and how she had single-handedly gotten the family throughout the grief by not giving in to it. She was positive. She forbade that they get angry, that they blame anyone, hold any grudges or feel hate.

Then, she explained why that attitude works. She said, “Resenting someone or holding a grudge or hatred in your heart is like drinking poison and expecting someone else to die.”

Wow! What did she just say? “Holding a grudge or hating someone is like drinking poison and expecting someone else to die.”

How simple is that! I found my rock. Brushed the loose powder and vanity drawer stuff off it and gave it up.

Come Sunday, it will finally find its way to the altar. Almost eight years after the challenge, I finally get it.

Oh, and all you “peekers” out there who peeked and saw me not take my rock to the altar; now you have it.

And, I’m sure you wonder if I made a peace with the target of my anger. No, I did not. It was so unimportant to him; he never knew I was mad.

I suppose my failure to forgive hurt only myself.

Seems as though that might have been the point after all.

Trending Video