For many years Ron and Nancy Reagan’s adopted son, Michael, held a grudge against his father because he never said, “I love you” while growing up.

It was a wall that separated them for a very long time until one day Michael realized, and he finally did what his resentment had kept him from doing most of his life.

He went up to his father and hugged him, and told him, “I love you, dad.” His father responded by saying that he loved him too.

I am sure that the whole ice-breaking moment was emotionally traumatic for both father and son, but it was a lesson well learned. The way Michael told it, God had finally gotten through to him.

You just be the one to make the first move and trust God for the rest.”

When President Reagan finally got to the point where he could no longer speak (and perhaps not even recognize Michael for who he was,) he still knew that Michael was the one from whom he could expect a hug.

One time when it had gotten to that point, they were leaving the house, and his wife looked back and said, “Michael, you forgot something.”

He saw his father standing in the doorway with his arms opened wide.

He was waiting for his hug, goodbye.

We are so human and susceptible to the weakness of keeping resentments and grudges bottled up inside of us.

The tragedy is not so much that we have the feelings, to begin with, but that we keep them like little pet monsters. The more we keep them around, the bigger they grow.

Resentments and grudges should not be kept as pets by Christians.

When Lot chose the fertile Jordan Valley, Abraham was left to live in the less desirable land of Canaan.

But his attitude was a godly one without resentment. Abraham said, “Let there be no strife between you and me and between your herdsman and my herdsman, for we are brethren.”

Paul wrote, “Repay no one evil for evil but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If possible, so long as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”

Grudges and resentment are hard things to give up, but I am sure that Michael is abundantly glad that he finally let them go.

Death is a great loss for those left behind but think how much greater the loss would be had Michael not taken that first step.

Life is too short to be keeping “little pet grudge monsters!”

There is great joy in forgiveness and ridding ourselves of the burden of a grudging heart.

PS. I have had to deal with this in my own life, so I am by no means “on the case” of those who struggle with this problem.
See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all. Rejoice always, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
1 Thessalonians 5:15‭-‬16‭, ‬18 RSV

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