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Sadly, I held a grudge for more than 3 years. Here’s why . . . #ForgivenessFriday

April 26, 2013

I was certain that God was leading me to start a different kind of church across town. My pastor was certain that God would never lead me to do such a thing. I was devastated that he wouldn’t support me. He was devastated that I would risk hurting the church. After serving together for 12 years and despite being best friends, our relationship completely severed and we wouldn’t talk to one another for years to come.

* * * * * * *

Two years later I was sitting inside Smokejack BBQ restaurant in Alpharreta, Georgia. Sitting across the table was my church-planting coach and friend from Northpoint Community Church. Despite my best efforts to resist, I ended up talking about my hurt like I had so many times before.

My hurt was tattooed on my tongue. Every time I spoke people saw my hurt. Like an ugly tumor, people would awkwardly smile and pretend it wasn’t THAT bad.

But this time my friend looked me in the eyes and said, “Mark, you keep looking back. You need to forgive so you can start moving forward.” I took a deep breath and nodded my head in agreement like you do when someone has said something true but unhelpful.

Forgive and move forward? I felt like he’d just told me to build the Golden Gate Bridge . . . with my bare-hands . . . blindfolded . . . spanning the Pacific Ocean . . . within 24 hours.

“I don’t know how to get past this!”, was my desperate, inner scream.


I flew back to my West Texas home and prayed another prayer of forgiveness hoping I could dig deeper and somehow mean it more. Nothing changed. My thoughts and conversations continued to be interrupted by my past hurt.

It felt like the cruelest divine trick of all to be given a memory with instant and detailed recall without the ability to forget.

Another year went by and my hurt was still with me . . . daily.

I wanted to forgive but something was holding me back. What was it?

After some intense soul searching, I discovered three things that were making forgiveness hard for me:

1. I wanted to forgive but I didn’t think people appreciated how badly I was hurt

2. I wanted to forgive but when something went wrong, I continued to blame my offender or my hurt

3. I wanted to forgive but I felt like my offender was “getting away with it”

Sadly, I held my grudge for more than three years!

How about you? Are you holding a grudge?

It might help to ask yourself the following questions:

Have you told your story more than once to the same person?

Do you replay the events that happened at least once a day in your mind?

Do you have imaginary conversations with the person who hurt you?

Does your story focus primarily on your pain and what you have lost?

Have you made a commitment to yourself to not tell your story again and then broken your commitment?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, chances are you’re holding a grudge. You’re not alone, I initially answered “yes” to ALL of these questions.

Your hurter may have been your spouse, a parent, a co-worker, or a close friend. Someone did something. Someone took something. Someone owes you something.

Eighteen months ago I began a journey. I wanted to pursue real forgiveness.

This is your invitation to join me on this journey.

Beginning today, let’s talk about forgiveness each Friday. Think of it as #ForgivenessFriday. (Though we’re free to forgive on the other days of the week.)

Is someone you know stuck in a past hurt? Forward this to them and invite them to join us.

Here’s the key: I want YOUR input. Okay, it’s your turn.

What’s the longest period of time you’ve held a grudge?

What are some of the things that have made forgiveness difficult for you?

Click HERE for PART 2 (includes the 10 common misunderstandings of forgiveness).


From → Forgiveness

  1. Anne Gordon permalink

    BETWEEN MYSELF/ GOD I am a performance person. Because of my up-bringing, I felt that my acceptance was based on my performance. I feared rejection. Outwardly, most people thought I was a very good person, but inwardly I felt terrible. I finally got victory through my daily Bible Readings. Eph.1:4 NKJV speaks of us being “holy and without BLAME ……. When that finally soaked in, I jumped off the “performance wagon” and started serving Him out of the depths of His great love.

    • Thanks for your honesty Anne. His great love is the source of all forgiveness isn’t it? So grateful for your wise words.

  2. Chuck Grace permalink

    Like so many others, I do relate to your pain, anger, and difficulty releasing past hurts. While your experience is unique to you, your reaction is so very common to man. The feelings of betrayal are probably the hardest to let go.
    My situation was also concerning a Church. The previous Church I came from hurt me so badly that I was part of the walking wounded for a long time. It took me years to really turn this over to the Lord and realize He had a plan for me much greater than the temporary malady of pain and suffering. My wife and I had poured our lives into a Church for over 30 years in every way possible. We were teaching, training, disciplining, and serving in almost every capacity we could to help build the body of Christ. We even used our Cabinet business to furbish the whole church with custom cabinet work from offices to mass storage. The Church had brought in a new pastor that was a very charismatic preacher but then started to undo all that the fellowship was about including a major doctrinal change. The church was divided and started to lose membership in a great way. After much prayer we decide that it was best for us and the church to leave and not be part of such division and strife. The pain of leaving affected us in every way. The hurt, anger, and hatred were paralyzing. It manifested its self to the point my relationship with the Lord was on life support. Some of the feelings were;
    How can you let this happen to me?
    What purpose can this serve?
    Where were your promises when I most needed them?

    The healing was slow for us and the Lord showed us that Romans 8:28 is true in every way. He does use everything to His glory. Ultimately, He has used this experience to teach and prepare us in so many ways. We have learned not to make ministry all about us and that all that we cherish or hold in high esteem comes with a price including our relationship with the Lord. Trust and obey are more than words to a song, they are the foundation to our life.

  3. Hurts from church are confusing aren’t they? I’m sorry you had that difficult experience. I can relate to your 3 questions. In fact, hearing that you asked them encourages me as I remember asking them too. Thanks for sharing that Chuck. I’m grateful you continued to trust God through that time because God is clearly using you now.

  4. Chuck Grace permalink

    That goes both ways. Your testimony of forgiveness and reconciliation helps me in more ways than you can know.
    In fact, I would change forgiveness Friday to every day in the week that ends with “Y”.

  5. Larry Matheney permalink

    Mark, well before the world was blessed by your birth, Lesley Gore had a hit record with “It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to”. Celebrate the pity party!
    My own slow-to-forgive moments have provided custom lyrics about why I deserve to have a little cry time all too often. The pattern is always the same. When I let my mind focus on ME, I invite Satan to stroll into my heart and begin his deceitful whisper campaign. “Larry, look how you were slighted!” With that start, I go right into “I was hurt”; “I was disrespected”. The only time I don’t obsess about the “I” things are when I shift the focus over to “MY” things. It goes through a form of fermentation as the concentrated swill of my self-centeredness becomes an intoxicant. And like consuming too much alcohol, that self-centered attitude causes my judgment to migrate from bad to worse.
    Fortunately, God has shown me that the difference between a mirror and a window is just a thin piece of film. I can stop looking only at myself and instead see the world around me by a little scraping. Small work, big reward.

    • Thank you Larry. Perspective and focus are critical. Once we’re hurt, it’s amazing how great our memory is recalling all our hurts big and small. I love your story and your wisdom.

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