“Do you have the courage and the strength it takes to be happy?”
–Author, Don McCullough
Did you ever consider that it might take courage and strength to be happy? This quote goes on to say, “It is far easier to be angry, it is far easier to slip down into hate and to become embittered. It takes courage and it takes strength to choose to be happy. It is far easier to choose to be bitter.”
We have to make a decision when we are angry and it’s both simple and complicated. Do you want to get better or do you want to be bitter? How do we move from being bitter and hurt toward healing? Let’s look at three ideas.
First of all, we move toward healing when we truly receive the gift of God’s grace and know we are forgiven. It is the message from the cross and foundational to our Christian beliefs. Don McCullough said something else interesting, “If you’re having a hard time forgiving someone, maybe you’ve not accepted God’s forgiveness for your life and forgiven yourself.” That’s an interesting thought. If you’re having a hard time forgiving someone, maybe you haven’t accepted God’s forgiveness and forgiven yourself. That’s where it begins.
Secondly, it is the message of the cross that tells us no matter what we have done, God never gives up on us. Jesus tells us, “Neither do I condemn you. Go and do not sin again.” It was the message of his entire ministry. On Sunday morning, we pray the Lord’s Prayer that says, “Father, forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who have trespassed against us.” Notice how Jesus sets that up? If we really want to get better, we need to open our hearts and experience God’s grace and forgive ourselves.
Third, when we give up our right to get even and instead choose to forgive, it opens our hearts to experience life and love again. As long as we are angry with others, it keeps us from experiencing love and life. It’s been said that carrying a grudge is like carrying a 20-pound watermelon. It’s impossible to reach out in love and give someone a hug when you have a watermelon in your arms! You have to put it down if you’re going to give a good hug. The same is true of anger, as long as we carry it with us, it closes our hearts. Do you want to be happy again? Do you have the courage and strength to choose to be happy again?
When we choose to forgive, we open our hearts to experience love and life again. Do you want to get better or do you want to stay bitter? It takes strength and courage to choose to be happy. Maybe it starts by experiencing the fact that we are forgiven. Maybe now we can begin to pray that Jesus Christ will give us the power to forgive those who have wronged us.