Once upon a time, a package was delivered to a young woman. When she opened it, her eyes blazed and she became very angry. Although she was infuriated over receiving this parcel, nevertheless she picked it up and took it with her.
Soon other packages arrived and she had to get a larger bag to put them in so she could carry them.
Every morning she dutifully picked up her bag and took it with her; on the bus to work and when she met the girls for coffee or a glass of wine. It went along to family gatherings and remained on her back as she fixed meals, cleaned house and did the laundry. Every once in awhile, she would receive another unwelcome and unwanted package which she stuffed in the bag with the others. Her bag began to get heavier and heavier.
There were moments when she laid her bag down – times when she went for a walk outdoors and enjoyed the beauty of trees and flowers or walked the beach where water gently lapped around her ankles. At such moments, she felt free and alive. She could enjoy the sun and the sweet pungent smells of earth or clean air.
She felt weightless and at peace and was tempted to leave the bag behind when she left. But it called to her and she would pick her load up once more, the moments enjoyed becoming burning coals of sadness, regret, and despair.
One day as she walked down the path of life, oblivious to the beauty that was around her, an old man stopped her and said,
“Every day you carry that big bag. I can tell it is heavy by the way your body sags under the weight and the strain of effort can be seen on your face. You must have something very valuable in that bag.”
The woman set the bag down and reflected on what he said. She had been carrying her load so long that it seemed the natural thing to do.
“Sir, the things in my bag are things I do not want, have never wanted, and carry them with me so that I never forget how much they have injured me. If I lay them down, then I might forget. For you see, in this bag are all the betrayals, rejections, insults, lies and humiliations I have received – things that have cut and wounded my spirit and soul.”
The man responded with deep concern. “Why would you want to keep carrying them? Why don’t you put them down and leave them behind?”
With tears in her eyes, she replied, “Because I don’t want to forget what was done to me. I don’t want them to get away with what they did to me. I want them to remember the pain and suffering they inflicted on me.”
With tenderness the old man gently replied,
“But they don’t know you are carrying this bag of grievances and resentment. They are not around. Whatever was done to you, you continue to do to yourself. You are not exacting any punishment on them but on you. Others may have injured you, but you continue to inflict pain on yourself.“
Amazed, she said, “But if I put it down, won’t I be saying, that what they did was okay? That they got away with it. As long as I carry this bag I can remember and maybe get even someday.”
The man kindly and compassionately said, “Is it worth letting a lifetime of joy and happiness pass you by?”
She looked into his eyes full of wisdom and grace and realized for the first time that by carrying her bag full of resentment and grievances, she was unable to enjoy doing those things that deep down she yearned to do. When our focus is on bitterness, there is no room left for joy.
She thanked the man and went home, put down her bag and pondered the things he said. What would she do with all the “rocks” of injustices she had been carrying around for so long? It wasn’t just the wrongs done to her, but the anger that was continually fanned into a deep simmering rage. She no longer wanted to carry them. But what would she do with them?
She looked out the window and gazed at her garden It seemed so ordinary and common. Instantly she knew what she would do.
Filled with an energy that bubbled up from deep within, she took the “rocks” out of her bag and went to work. She built a monument in her garden, filling in places with fresh new dirt, planting graceful trees and fragrant blooming plants and flowers.
Water ponds held the tears she shed and pathways wound around carefully placed objects that no longer were stumbling blocks but sculptures of beauty.
Her garden no longer was mundane, but extraordinary and she would invite friends and family over to enjoy conversation, peace, and happy thoughts in her expansive garden.
Forgiveness is for you…
The story above is just that – a story. But in its simplicity, illustrates how we carry huge loads of injuries with us as we travel through life. Forgiveness allows us to put our bag of “rocks” down. Forgiveness allows us to build something positive from the hurts of the past. When we focus on how badly someone has treated us, we become a victim of our own story.
Forgiveness allows you to make peace with any bitterness that may be in your past. It allows you to let go of the pain and experience peace.
Don’t you want to set your heavy burden down and choose to forgive? Forgiveness, after all, is for us. Jesus said, forgive 70+ times. Science tells us the same thing.
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