Friday, December 12, 2014

Meet the real Grinch

I was reading about the twin brothers Esau and Jacob in the Old Testament. They’re known for the contention that arose between them over the birthright (that is, family inheritance and spiritual authority). Basically, Esau traded the birthright (which belonged to him) for Jacob’s lunch because he was hungry after a hunting trip. He never intended to actually let Jacob have it, but Jacob got it, nonetheless.

In his anger over losing the birthright, Esau plotted to kill his brother. Their mother found out about Esau's plan and sent Jacob to live with a relative, hoping that Esau would calm down over time. Jacob left and the twins had no contact for about 20 years.

When Jacob returned home after all that time, he didn't know what was going to happen. But when Esau and Jacob met, Esau “embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him: and they wept” (Genesis 33:4).          

I never really thought of this as a holiday story, but a few thoughts came to mind as the time for massive relative-visiting has come. 

Esau was the one who willingly gave away the birthright. When Jacob got it, he chose to hold a grudge instead of blaming himself for an agreement that he made when he was hungry. That grudge caused a chasm of anger to open up that could only be healed by the removal of his brother. I know that time and space can work wonders, but how many years of good family memories were halted because Esau just couldn't let go and move on?
Bringing things to the present, how many good family memories do we miss out on because of that one person in the room who said or did something that hurt our feelings?

Even more common, how many times do we get bothered or offended by family members whose intent wasn't even to offend in the first place?

I don't know many families who have their own version of Esau at their gatherings, but I do know of many people who talk about family members as if they were modern-day Esau's. I don't doubt that there are people in the world who really are genuine jerks, but let's be real here: most aren't. 

We're all human. We've all said and done things that we wish we hadn't. There's probably someone out there right now who's mad at you for something you don't even know you did…

…And perhaps you’re thinking about the person you’re mad at who has absolutely no clue whatsoever.

If the person you're mad at doesn't know what happened, how can you honestly stay upset when you’re not willing to address it?

If it’s not a big enough deal to talk to the person about it, then perhaps it’s something to let go. “Holding a grudge is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” By hanging on to something negative, the only person you're hurting is yourself.

Perhaps this year is the one to put the grudge aside and fully enjoy the holidays again.

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