Christ Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in the book of Matthew in the Bible has always touched my heart. But although I loved reading it, I found it difficult to live up to some of its teachings. In 2007 I had a specific opportunity to put some of the ideas from it into practice, and this relieved me of the burden of holding grudges.
At the time, I felt hurt by the attitude of one of my close relatives. I felt very bad because I had done so much for her at a time of need. That feeling lingered on, and ultimately I never felt like talking to her whenever she telephoned our home. I felt justified labeling her as an ungrateful person. Although I was hiding my feelings, my unwillingness to talk to her was becoming visible to other family members, and one of them even pointed it out.
I decided to approach the problem by putting into practice what I had learned about love after I became a student of Christian Science. I was determined to heal my resentment completely.
I had made a practice of reading the Sermon on the Mount daily, so I opened to my favorite verse from it, which had helped me many times with relationship problems with friends and coworkers: “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:44, 45).
That’s what I felt – that my relative had used me. But here I was told to pray for her. I realized that she is also a child of God, the divine Father of all of us. Again, though, self-justification started overpowering my thoughts and saying “How can she be a child of my Father, as I am always so grateful, and she is so jealous and competitive?” I still struggled mentally to forgive her.
I decided to note down what I considered to be her Godlike qualities on a piece of paper – to appreciate the ways she expressed love, selflessness, intelligence, and so on. Such qualities actually constitute the true nature of each of us, which is spiritual, the expression of God’s goodness. I was happy that I could write down many.
One day I got a wonderful thought: It came to me that in doing this I had been expressing gratitude, which is another quality derived from God. Therefore, all are inherently able to reflect it naturally and effortlessly.
I continued to pray diligently to be completely delivered from judging and condemning this person. After a month of praying with these ideas, I felt so light, as if a burden had been lifted.
One evening I had a strong inspiration to pick up the phone and talk to my relative, just to chitchat, and I obeyed. It seemed as if she had been waiting for my call; she said she had hesitated to disturb me with calls in the past, thinking I must be busy with my office and church work. Both of us were happy and decided to meet in the near future, which we did, and we have met joyfully many times since then.
I am so grateful for the efficacy of the ideas found in the Sermon on the Mount and that I could forgive not only my relative, but also all others I’d held grudges toward. The resentment was healed so fully that I even forgot about what they had said or done that I had taken offense to. I still feel light and completely relieved of this burden.
Each of us can strive to let love rather than resentment lead us forward, even when we feel someone has wronged us. This lifts grudges and fosters healing and peace.
Adapted from a testimony published in the Dec. 17, 2018, issue of the Christian Science Sentinel.