I’ve have a great idea for your new year’s resolutions.
Throw them out.
I guarantee that you only need one resolution. This resolution has the potential to change your life forever.
Resolve: This year I will forgive the person who has made my life miserable for the past several years. The truth is that holding on to a grudge is living in the past. It’s holding onto dead issues, and that’s why I liken it to talking to the dead.
No worries. I’m not talking about séances. I’m talking about the way we tend to resurrect issues and hurts that are dead and gone.
In this area, I occasionally play the medium. As I’ve said to congregations all my preaching life, “I live where you live. I walk where you walk.”
One afternoon eight years ago, I had been flirting with some of these dead issues, hurts I couldn’t seem to release.
These hurts came nearly as audible voices, and when my wife overheard me conversing with them, she challenged me to call my pastor.
But wait. I was a pastor, so who does a pastor call? I called my life pastor, my father-in-law, Wil. During the next few days, he challenged me to make time to work on releasing these hurts.
“How?” I asked.
Wil answered that question a week later when he showed up at our home with my mother-in-law. He brought my wife and me into our living room and we formed a circle.
From that circle, he read something that changed my life. It was called, “A Litany for Our Deepest Hurts.” Here’s how it read:
Leader: Because there are pains that do not heal as physical pain does with time, surgery or medication, we are engaged in this spiritual covenant in anticipation — now or soon — of eventual healing of our spirits.
Response: I accept and enter this covenant as if I were beginning a brand new journey in life.
Leader: The deeper the hurt, the longer the journey, whether in minutes, hours or days, to that healing destination brought about by forgiveness and release.
Response: I promise to move in that direction. I may not move as fast as you think I should, but today or daily I will release and surrender either all or some part of this cumbersome weight.
Leader: These hurts have many names such as bushwhacked, waylaid, back-stabbed, slandered, deceived, etc., and none hurt like that received from a perceived friend.
Response: I will cease giving it a name and simply reject anything in my mind and spirit that is counterproductive to what God has planned for me.
Leader: Ceasing to dwell on this matter is not a matter of weakness, for it will free your time and mind. Therefore, if you are willing to stop looking back and instead face a forward direction, then our mighty God will be better able to bless and direct a forward-moving life.
Response: Because I know you are right, I hereby give up to God my so-called “rights” I have attached to my hurts, knowing he will deal with those involved while also leading me “in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.”
Since then, I’ve shared this litany with many audiences in the talks I’ve given in the past few years. No one has said that it’s a magic pill, but most have found it useful as a strong first step toward deliberately ceasing to call on these dead issues.
As for myself, I continue to remember the litany as a daily touchstone, reminding me as does my Al-Anon friend, “Do you want to be right or righteous?”