Otou Yumi went twenty years without speaking to his wife. During that time, they continued to live together and raise their children. Whenever his wife, Katayama, tried to engage him in conversation, he would only nod his head or grunt at her.
The children finally had enough. With the help of a Japanese TV show, they arranged to have the parents meet in the park where they had their first date. It worked. Otou opened up and started sharing with his wife again.
Why was he quiet for twenty years? He was jealous of the time and attention she was giving the children and so decided to cut her out. “I was sulking about it”, he said. Now that they have started talking again, he says he will try to do better.
A twenty-year sulk! A family where the children never saw their parents talk with each other…how tragic and sad. It’s easy to shake our heads and ask how that could happen, but then overlook the grudges that we carry. After all, someone holding onto a hurt always believes they have a good reason for doing so. Pouting and sulking are childish traits that we use to get our own way. Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to fall into childish patterns and hurt the people around us.
The start of the New Year is a good time to give everyone around us a fresh start. Release them from your grievances against them. Stop pouting. Life is short and we can’t afford to carry around a grudge for more than a few minutes. It not only frees our loved ones – it also frees us.
As believers, new creatures in Christ, we were forgiven much. God does not hold our sin against us, but casts it away as far as the east is from the west. Paul tells us in Ephesians 4 that as Christians, we need to grow up. “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,” (Ephesians 4:15). That means putting childish behaviour behind us.
So as this new year begins, do yourself and others a favour: release them from your debt. Let go of jealousy, anger, bitterness and unforgiveness. For those who are forgiven much, love much.