A few years ago I went to the Labor Day Cookout at the local Methodist Church. The pastor, Steve Brown, arrived about 5:15. He wore a backpack and kept it on until he spoke during their praise service about 7:00. As unusual as this might be what was inside was even more unusual, seven bricks.
As he spoke he took out a brick at a time. The first had a piece of paper that said unforgiveness. The others were resentment, anger, hurt, worry and guilt: all things we carry around with us. The seventh was blank to symbolize perhaps the bitterness, fear, doubt, failures, rejections we carry around with us. All of us carry these things with us in our psyche. We hold on to the pain and mistakes of our past. We don’t forget especially the things we do wrong.
We wonder why we’re not happy. How can we be happy if we constantly beat ourselves up over our past mistakes? How can we be happy if we hold onto grudges from twenty, thirty or more years ago? How can we be happy if we hold onto anger? How can we be happy if we insist on worrying about things we can’t control? How can we be happy if we hold onto our failures?
We all do this. How many times have you thought you’d be happy never to see someone again? How many times do we beat ourselves up over something stupid that we did long ago? How many times do we regret our past? How many times do we keep thinking of some sin we committed and confessed long ago? How often do you have to remind yourself that you’ve confessed that sin?
It seems that one of the hardest things we can do is really leave our past behind. No matter how you’ve changed, how hard you tried to do better something always happens to remind you and bring you down. It is as if Satan won’t let you forget. It is part of his control over us. He especially likes to remind us of our sins and failures because then we tend to close off part of ourselves to God. We keep our distance rather than drawing close.
Yet if you read the Diary of St. Faustina He wants us to go to Him in our misery. He calls us to trust in His Mercy. It doesn’t matter how miserable we’ve been His Mercy is greater. We have to trust in His Mercy.
Letting go, truly letting go of our past is one of the most important things we can do in life. Letting go will lift us out of our misery and allow the Lord to truly heal us. This is the kind of healing we need most. It is the healing God wants to give us first. He wants to free us of our resentment and unforgiveness, to heal us of our anger. He wants to remove the guilt that we feel. He wants to make us free to truly love Him. He wants us to totally open ourselves to His love. If we ever totally let go of everything and open ourselves up to his love it will be like taking a shower in Niagara Falls.
The problem is that we don’t let go of the anger. We hang onto our resentment. We think we’re right. We can’t give in. Our pride gets in the way. We can’t forgive. We won’t let go of our past. We shouldn’t have done that. Again our pride gets in the way.
Often the most important person we have to forgive is ourselves. Because of our pride we can’t get over the fact that we are human. We’ve made mistakes and messed up. We will again. That’s part of our humanity. God knows all about it. He made us that way. He doesn’t want our beating ourselves up. He wants our repentance, confession and resolve to do better.
He wants to help us let go. He knows we can’t do this on our own. We have to come to Him and trust in His Mercy.
Jesus, there is so; so much I need to let go of. Help me to let go of all anger, unforgiveness, resentment, fear, guilt and hurt. Help me to let go of my worries. Help me to let go of my pride. Help me to totally open myself up to Your love. Amen