But whoever shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
That—from Matthew 18:6 of the King James version of the bible, as I understand it—provided the genesis for the “millstone around my neck” idiom. Ah, what a pleasant thought, offering hope and succor for the less fortunate among us. Right. Oh, well.
But it’s that millstone, that unknown or unremembered offense against someone who apparently knows and remembers the offense that I don’t, that bedevils me.
At what point do we stop holding grudges against people for mistakes they do not even realize they made? When do we decide either to confront and discuss the offense head-on or simply let it fade, impotent to bother us, into the past? When, indeed?
Perhaps there is no when; perhaps, instead, the offense remains indelibly etched into the offended person’s psyche so that no amount of acknowledgement and no amount of regret can erase it. The offense, or the memory of what one believes to be an offense, becomes a millstone that sinks the relationship between individuals just as surely as drowning in the sea would do.
Worrying about a perceived degradation of a relationship—and assuming there is, in fact, such a deterioration—without taking proactive steps to inquire, explore, discover the reasons for the dissolution of a relationship is pointless, isn’t it? Indeed it is. But I think we all shy away from pulling at the scab of old wounds or, worse, pursuing what turns out to be an imaginary crack in the foundation of a marriage of the minds.
We’re all too thin-skinned, but at the same time we’re equally reckless with others’ feelings as we are protective of our own.