Saturday, May 29, 2010
Bury - Don't Carry
Photo from Cherokee.org
Wilma Mankiller served as the first female Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation, the second largest tribe in the United States, headquartered in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, from 1985 to 1995. She was born in poverty, suffered from various health issues during her life, and endured strong opposition when she decided to campaign for Chief because she was a female. During her time as Chief, the tribe flourished, and she made many notable accomplishments for which she received national recognition and awards. She was known to be a strong, but humble leader. Wilma Mankiller passed away April 6, 2010 at the age of 64 from pancreatic cancer. The current Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation, Chad Smith, received a letter from her a few weeks before she died. Mankiller stated in the letter how she learned long ago that she could not control her life's challenges but "I can control the way I think about them and react to them."
Four days before Mankiller passed away, she wrote a letter and requested it be read at her memorial service. A small portion of the letter reads: "I know that many people around here believe in burial. But I would like them to bury something after today. I would like them to bury any unkindness or anger or hurtful things I may have done. Bury those with me." I found Wilma Mankiller's statements thought provoking. How good are we at forgiveness and burying our grudges? Webster's Dictionary defines grudge as "a feeling of deep-seated resentment or ill will." Some people will carry unforgiveness and grudges for decades and even to the grave. We have a multitude of opportunities to acquire unforgiveness and grudges. If not dealt with, that could result in a lot of baggage for us to carry and it is not the way the Lord intends for us to live. Although I have learned that with major offenses forgiveness is not automatic, but a process that has to be walked through and prayed over frequently. Simply stated, forgiveness is literally freeing. "Bury - don't carry" is a motto I want to adopt when offenses come.
And then there is another way to think of grudges - do we hold grudges against people because of a mistake they made 30 years ago or due to their ethnicity or because their lifestyle choices don't match up to ours? The Lord is in the judging business, not us. Romans 14:13 NIV, in part, reads: Therefore, let us stop passing judgment on one another.
Another statement from Wilma Mankiller's final letter reads: "When I was 7 or 8 and living here, no one would have ever guessed what the future would bring. I hope people will learn from that - about themselves and about others. Don't turn away from people because of how they look or what they have, because you never know what they'll contribute to the world."
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:32 NIV
And the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 2 Timothy 2:24 NIV
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