Share a story where it was very difficult for you to forgive the perpetrator for wronging you, but you did it — you forgave them.
My story of learning the process of forgiveness is too personal to share here, so I’m going to put on my counselor hat this morning and deal with the “forget” part of this prompt.
The prompt is titled “Forgive and Forget.”
Whoever first said that didn’t have a clue. Sometimes we believe it, though, and feel we are required to forget about whatever was done to us, and behave as though it never happened.
You can’t. And sometimes you shouldn’t.
Forgiveness is a process whereby you learn to let go of your right to hurt someone else for hurting you. It takes time, because the hurt may have been grievous. It may have been ongoing over many years. In fact, it may still be happening.
To forgive is to choose, by an act of the will, to give up your claim to avenge the hurt; to let it go, to move forward instead of continuing to be poisoned by the acid of unresolved anger and bitterness. I could talk for a long time about just that one facet, but the “forget” part is my main target.
God can forget. He has that infinite capacity. His Word tells us that He remembers our sin no more once we have confessed and sought forgiveness (Hebrews 8:12; Isaiah 43:25).
We, however, seem to be “gifted” with the infinite ability to remember–unless, of course, you’re trying to remember you phone number or your middle-aged child’s birthday 🙂 Our finite capacity to forget wrongs that have been committed against us can cause us great suffering if we don’t learn the process of forgiveness.
One idea that helped me learn to forgive was that when we don’t forgive, the offender is STILL controlling our emotions, even if that person is dead and buried. Nope, no way! Not going to let that happen. And so I embarked, many years ago, on the path of learning to forgive.
Here’s the secret: You have to keep on forgiving. It is not just once and done. Wouldn’t that be nice? No, every single time the memory crops up, we have to forgive again. We have to forgive over and over, seventy times seven, until the memory no longer causes the bile of bitterness to rise up in our throats.
Don’t try to forget. Just keep on forgiving. What I’ve learned, over the years, is that the more often you forgive in the beginning of this process, the less often you have to forgive again as time passes. Now, when the memory pops up in my head, I can just smack it down and go on with my business. It causes me no pain, no anger, no bitterness.
However, if I let that memory live in my brain, simmering like an evil brew in some witch’s cave, then the old emotions begin to creep back in.
Stop it! It isn’t worth it! Forgive, forgive, forgive. To forgive is to erase a debt, to wipe the slate clean.
Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t forget. Just learn to forgive again. I promise you, practice makes perfect–or, at least as perfect as we mortals can learn to be.
Forgive. You’ll be glad you did.