Burning Bridges (The June I don't Remember, Part IV)
During my month-long stay in the hospital this past June, I received hundreds of cards, calls and texts from around the world. Yes, I said world. Each time I checked my email or my texts, there were messages of support. The few times my dad left my side and went home, he would bring back fan mail (I mean get-well cards). The overwhelming part of all of this was there were old friends I didn’t really have contact with anymore and strangers reaching out to me. I felt loved, and knowing there were people out there investing in me made me realize I needed to get serious about an area in my life I have been working to improve.
My competitive nature and my “do-it-myself” attitude haven’t always been positive traits. They come with some cons, too. One of those being I tend to cut people out of my life pretty easily when they hurt or take advantage of me. You could say I’m sometimes delusional to think I can live this life without people in my corner. I also tend to refuse or ask for help, and that’s extremely senseless when I have loved ones dying to be there for me when I need help. Even though I am a fun guy to be around, I use to only expose that fun and friendly side to those close to me. You were either on my team or against me. That’s a mindset I most likely derived from my competitive days in college as a Sigma man.
I was always the guy to light the bridge on fire and swim underneath it even though I’m not a swimmer. In fact, I can’t swim. But I found pleasure in making it to the other side and proving that person wrong, just because in my mind, he or she wanted to see me drown. It was the “Richie against the world” mentality. I quickly learned that having a chip on my shoulder to prove someone wrong was a waste of time. Those people don’t deserve any more of my time than I’ve already given them.
When your attitude is to always prove someone wrong or pay evil with evil, you waste a lot of time because to be honest, most of those people you’re trying to prove wrong or get back at don’t care or have no clue how they wronged you.
Working on this trait has been my focus this year. I’ve forgiven people who wronged me in the past and even have relationships with some of them. I’ve also started being more open to asking for help and allowing my relationships and friendships to be more partnerships rather than putting the “superman” pressure on myself. I am changing my mentality of doing everything on my own.
Ephesians 4:31-32 says: Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Reading the Bible verse above made a huge difference in my life. The fact of the matter is, we all have sinned and do not deserve forgiveness. Yet, Christ forgives us every single time we sin. If Christ, who is sinless, gave up His life for us and keeps forgiving us when we sin, who are we to hold grudges and cut others off because they wronged us?
The important thing to remember is you are not expected to have a relationship with everyone. In fact, you might be better off distancing yourself from certain relationships, but it is important to learn to forgive in order to have peace. I found that holding grudges were harder on my mind and body than forgiving someone. Don’t give someone the reaction they are looking for by trying to prove them wrong.
When I was admitted this past June and felt the overwhelming support from friends, loved ones and strangers while in the hospital, I really felt God telling me to give up the act. He was telling me to be more open to reciprocating that same love I always receive and to stop cutting others out of my life so easily. He was telling me to give people a chance, forgive them, and most importantly, love them like He loves me.
I am so loved, and I have a gift of drawing people close to me. So why channel that gift in a negative way?
Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t holding a grudge against anyone who visited me or messaged me during my time in the hospital. But the overwhelming feeling of being loved made me more serious about doing better. Life is too short to make it about proving people wrong. Those that are quick to cut others off and burn bridges shouldn’t have a lot of friends or support, so to have so much encouragement during a difficult time was a blessing and a message from God.
If you’re reading this today and you’re angry with someone, please forgive him or her and have peace. It’s not worth it. Don’t let your attitude hurt your relationships. Everyone will need a helping hand at some point in life. Don’t allow something small to end a great friendship or relationship. If God forgave you, who are you to hold a grudge? Forgive and have peace. You can never be a one-man show forever. You need people in your corner. Don’t waste time trying to prove others wrong. What benefit do you get from doing that?
I love you, and God bless you. Thanks for following this series. I will conclude next week with Part Five. You don’t want to miss it.