“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one that gets burned.” I came across this saying on some random website a few weeks ago and realized how applicable to my life this really is. I was holding on to anger towards my mom and it was having a serious negative effect on my life.
A few months ago my parents divorced. Around the same time, my mom became inactive in the church and has developed a lot of resentment towards it and its members. I had grown up in the Church and was still attending regularly, so it caused a lot of tension in our relationship. She had completely changed her lifestyle contrary to the way I had been raised and taught in church. She had begun spending time with people who were a bad influence on her, breaking the Word of Wisdom, dressing immodestly, and then had her boyfriend move into our house barely a few months after my parents’ divorce.
I was really angry. I knew what she was doing was wrong and what made me even more angry was that she knew what she was doing was wrong but still did those things anyway. I was angry at her for the example she was setting for my five younger siblings. I was angry when she expected me to start paying rent while her unemployed boyfriend lived in our home for free. I was angry at her for the way she treated me and my siblings and the way she would allow her boyfriend to treat my brothers and sisters. And I was angry at her when she threw me out of the house with no place to go. Now the list of things I was angry at her for could go on and on.
After I moved back to Rexburg, Idaho from my home in Florida, I thought I would start feeling the happiness I usually get when I’m here. But that feeling didn’t come. I had been feeling hopeless, lonely, and upset. I could not figure out what was making me feel this way. After constant praying I had finally come to an answer. I needed to forgive my mom. My first thought when I realized that I needed to forgive was that I couldn’t do it, she had hurt me too badly and didn’t deserve my forgiveness. She hadn’t apologized or even seemed to feel bad for how she had been acting. Why should I forgive her? But I knew that forgiveness is what the Lord wanted from me, not only to help my mother but also to help me. So I kept praying that I could be humble and that I’d have the strength to let go of my resentment. It didn’t happen all at once and it probably didn’t happen as quickly as it should have, but eventually I forgave her.
Forgiving her has not fixed many of the problems that we have with each other, but it has made dealing with them easier. And it has brought me peace. Holding on to that grudge did nothing to my mom, in fact I don’t even think she realized how angry I really was. It was only bringing me down and destroying my own spirit. That was the reason I was stuck in that rut and couldn’t seem to move forward. That is why I was feeling so alone. My anger wasn’t allowing the Spirit to be with me. I was the person holding tightly onto that burning coal wondering why it wasn’t hurting the other person.