January 21, 2008
Jeff and I never got along in college. I don’t know what it was about him, but we were always like oil and water.Everything he did seemed to bother me. I didn’t like the way he treated women. I didn’t like the way he ate. I didn’t even like the way he wrote for our college newspaper.One time at a social gathering, the party hosts had inflatable boxing gloves for our entertainment. Jeff and I popped them during a “playful sparring match.”Still, we spent a fair amount of time together. We had mutual friends, and the quarters were always tight at the college paper. We ended up in the same places frequently.We even were part of the same group that took a trip to Key West, Fla. During that same enjoyable trip, our fists flew once again, minus those inflatable boxing gloves.That anger and distrust between us always remained there. Most days it seethed beneath the surface. It seldom exploded, but on the occasions it did, it was ugly.You might wonder why I bring up some guy I didn’t like in college and what it might have to do with your daily life.Our shared past popped to mind while talking about Lima’s recent race issues. The other person seemed baffled about how we could have these kinds of issues rippling in the community, yet many of us never knew it. It was baffling that anyone could hold a deep-seated resentment toward anyone.For all these years, I’ve held that deep-seated resentment toward Jeff. I’m not completely sure why.His attitudes toward some of my core values certainly hurt our efforts at friendship. His ways of expressing himself didn’t help. His ways of doing things didn’t make sense to me.But those factors didn’t make him wrong, any more than my way of thinking makes me right.If I really think about it, many of my best memories from college involved Jeff. I just didn’t notice it at the time because I hated having him around so much.That same kind of hatred seems to be running through the veins of this area. My Jeff-ism could just as easily be racism, sexism or homophobia.The only way to move past it is to acknowledge it and choose to do something about it.In my case, I forgive Jeff. I can’t remember what happened that instigated our disdain in the first place. It’s certainly not worth holding a grudge after all these years. It’s not worth forgetting all those fine times when we were in the same place at the same time, sharing the same fun experiences.Each of us should take this same opportunity in our lives. If you have hate in your heart, perhaps you should think about why. Perhaps you should invest in forgiveness too.It feels good to move on. It’s comforting to forgive.