Growing up, I could hold a grudge. I could hold one like nobody’s business. I used to bank trust in the currency of promises. If someone broke a promise to me that was the end of the friendship, I did not care who you were. I even stopped talking to my mom for weeks because she broke a promise to me. 17-year-old Ashleigh thought she really knew everything. Granted, she knew a lot, but nobody really taught her about forgiveness.

I actually don’t know how I learned about forgiveness and how important it was. It probably has something to do with what happened with my mom. I didn’t talk to my mom for weeks, I dodged her calls. I refused to call her. If she was talking to my brother and asked to talk to me I said no and walked away. One weekend my mother was relentless. She called so much and asked to talk to me that I got tired of hearing the phone ring and just talked to her. Something was tugging at my heart that I was being slightly ridiculous anyway. So I talked to my mom, we talked out her promise-breaking. We talked about everything and anything. We spent the majority of that weekend talking to each other on the phone. The following Tuesday, my mom passed away. She had been sick most of my life, I already knew it was going to happen, I just didn’t know when. What if I didn’t talk to my mom that weekend? What if my mom passed and I never talked to her again and the last thing I had was me yelling at her for breaking a silly promise?

That’s the thing with holding grudges-it only hurts you. You staying mad at somebody doesn’t hurt them, they are going to keep living their life. It only hurts you because you are thinking about it over and over in your head. How many grudge holding people do you know living happy lives? I think about that time in my life, the days I could hold grudges and I was a walking oxymoron. I was getting mad at everything and snapping at anybody I could but I could always look on the positive side and I couldn’t trust anybody. I would expect people to bail on plans. I would expect them to and then get mad when they did. I was not living a happy life but I told myself I was because I’m an optimistic person and I always need to look on the bright side.

After my mom passed away, I started letting things go. I wish I could give examples of an exact switch-when I learned how to forgive someone. I still struggle with it, especially if the hurt comes from someone I love, I need to remind myself that forgiveness is important. Sometimes, I get trapped in allowing the offense or hurt swirl around in my head like it just bought a house up there. That’s when I remind myself that I forgive because I’ve been forgiven. Anything someone does to me is not worse than the sin I have daily against God. Yet, God forgives me every single time. If he can do that, I can forgive the guy who cuts me off on the freeway.

Forgiving also takes the weight off of me. I don’t want to be the person I was seven years ago, why should I be carrying around her hurts? That kind of anger takes commitment and I don’t have time for that kind of commitment. My plate is full enough, you know?

The bible tells us to forgive as the Lord forgave you. That is what I remind myself when I struggle the hardest to forgive, when I remember severe hurts from my husband that were years ago, forgive as the Lord forgave me. When I talk with God, I don’t see Him bringing up my past mistakes. I don’t need to do that to my husband or anybody else for that matter.

And if the Bible or God isn’t your thing, do you really want to have whatever happened 5 years ago sitting with you like you are old friends? Or do you want to look at each day with a smile knowing that the past is behind you and you have a future as bright as the sun?

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