Grudge

Jasmine is eight, round, and short. Her mother dresses her in florescent colors like hot pink, blinding orange, or way-too-lime green. None of this bright fabric can ever quite cover Jasmine’s whole body. Her belly and back side seem to want (and find) a way out.

A couple of additional tidbits that complete the picture: Jasmine got dubbed “the fattest girl of all time” by a middle school boy who lived upstairs from her. He had tagged her with that name in kindergarten and it stuck. Her classmates, stocking stretchers in their own rights, picked up the label to harangue her each day.

The exchange came to a head when her cousin, Shareena, put skittles down the back side of Jasmine’s pants as the girl bent down to pick up her lunch box. This unrequested drop-and-dash happened today.

I found Jasmine standing alone on the landing of the school’s stairway. Her face was drenched from sobbing – she plucked the last of the bright skittles from the back of her hot pink pants. She approached me, leaned her wet face into my coat buttons, and came undone. “I hate Shareena. I am going to hate that little girl forever.”

And so, a new grudge was born, joining a crowded field of old grudges and unfinished scores.

Grudges arise to protect us. However, grudges consist of dark, angry energy, wrapped tight and sourced through imprecise memories. “Getting even” lies tucked inside of every grudge as it hardens, grows, and leeches toxins into the psychic soil out of which new hopes and dreams can grow. Science can’t quantify or even measure how these kinds of energies remain stuck in each of us. But any pair of open eyes can see the crush of the grudge on individuals as they shut down, become sour, and get mean.

You name the business, school, church or family, and grudges can accrue, choking the life out of the good work. Even small grudges cut through an organization’s soft tissue, preventing healing, and blocking the ability for people to begin anew.

The blessing for me is to see my own barriers reflected in the children that I serve – along with the same humble tools needed in order to clear darkness and step closer to the realm of sweet light. Witnessing Jasmine clutching onto her memory of Shareena – I want her to find a way to let that memory go. Could it come from a thoughtful friend who might listen to her long enough to help her loosen the grip? Absent that kind of fortunate intervention, the world might shrink into a spiteful little place.

The catch is in how to step past the stuck-ness. I find the process to be slow going. For example, what if I happened to know a woman who held a grudge against me for ten years – and I against her. Let’s say I found the strength to do the moral inventory, and then take the first step toward moving on. Let’s even say that I had the audacity to make a phone call, to leave a message – an invitation to have a conversation over the phone to clear the air. All of these little actions would be part of finding my own inner hero.

Nothing changes when things stand still and leading may be about learning how to make things move. With that axiom in mind, I can see that I have work to do. Thank you, Jasmine, for getting things moving.

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