Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Forgive and Forget

Christian forgiveness is awfully demanding.  There's really no wiggle room.  We are called to forgive, or our sins will not be forgiven us.

But what I really want to know is where does "Forgive and forget" fit in with this.  Is there any leeway there?  Can we forgive and not forget?  Is the "forget" part optional?

I always assumed they were mutually exclusive.  Now I'm leaning the other way.  I think forgetting must be an essential part of forgiveness.  At least for me, I can't keep remembering past wrongs/hurts without getting upset again which nullifies my original forgiveness.  Well, I can review them in a disinterested way, kind of like a medical examiner during an autopsy.  I think, though, that we are talking about forgetting the hurt when we talk about forgetting in association with forgiveness, not forgetting the actual situation that caused it.  That works for me, because a lot of times I learn the most from the situation after some time has passed.  I can dissect it and see what went wrong as long as I keep the emotional memory out of it.

I've figured out that forgetting is a choice.  If I see my thoughts starting to go there, back to the heartache, I stop them and say, "No," and divert them elsewhere.  For this grace I am truly grateful.

This is all only my personal experience, of course.  What about you?  Do you think it is possible to forgive and not forget?


Anonymous said...

These days, it is customary that unconditional forgiveness be demanded without any sign of repentance or any attempts to redress wrongs committed. The demand for forgiveness is accompanied by a frank refusal to admit that any debt or right of a creditor exists. Real forgiveness is a virtue to be practiced more than to be preached. Those who preach it these days are more often than not those who seek impunity for a grievously mistaken line of conduct. This sort of presumption of forgiveness. of God and men (after all, the reasoning goes "if God has forgiven me, who are you to withhold forgiveness!") has in fact become the norm in feminized Christianity.

Here is a particularly repugnant example of this presumptuous form of pseudo-Christianity, that has completely eliminated the concept of justice and responsibility:

Wendy Haught said...

That's a good point about people now expecting debts to be forgiven without any attempt to pay them back. It reminded me about how these days people who are wronged are sued, as in the case of a robber hurting himself while in the act of robbing. Everything is upside down.

Fotofule said...

I think the Lord expects us to do all we can to forget, just as you described. The human brain catalogues all our interactions, everything we say and do, so we can't erase memory. But we can act on memory, decide whether or not a bad experience continues to negatively impact our choices. "Choose you this day..." The Lord promises to remember our sins no more when we repent.

Jer 31:34 And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.

Anonymous said...

I think there is a fine line between forgetting and naivety. While forgiveness definitely includes not holding a grudge, choosing to forget can sometimes place one in the position to be unnecessarily hurt again. For example, while in college, I knew another student whose girlfriend cheated and then broke up with him. He forgave her and begged her to take him back because, in his mind, to forgive and forget meant to return to the state before she cheated. She agreed but eventually cheated on him again. Forgiving does not erase the consequences of an action. In an instance like that I believe pretending something didn't happen is dangerous.