Forgive and Forget: Cliche or Reality?

Is it fair to say that ‘forgive and forget’ are impossible to achieve? Can one exist without the other? I used to believe the notion was coined by people living in a fairytale world. Last week I ate my words. Something amazing happened to me. I learnt to forgive. Having said this, I am not entirely sure how much of the forgiveness was in fact intentional. At the risk of sounding cliché, I did find myself waking up one day and holding no animosity whatsoever. It’s an amazing feeling and the relationships with those closest to me has developed as a result.

Forgiveness has given me a calmness I never had before. I no longer feel the need to search for answers or hold on to the hurt in the search for reasons and understanding. However, is there only ever one form of forgiveness? Do you either forgive by excusing an individual’s actions i.e. to pardon that person from their actions, or do you instead relinquish anger and resentment against them? If you fall in the latter, is that even forgiveness? Does that truly pardon an individual’s actions? In essence is that even forgiveness? Or is it just time taking over and allowing for the numbing of the pain and the resentment?

What about learning to forget? What exactly does that mean? To forgive, doesn’t that mean to forget time? And surely that IS impossible? No matter how much we want to we can not simply delete events from our memory. Sitting here now with all these thoughts soaking through me, I am thinking that surely to forget is not mandatory in the equation?One needs to remember to ensure lessons will be learnt. For example, why do we year after year acknowledge the existence of the holocaust?

But, I think we all seem to be missing the picture. In order to forgive, we do not need to forget. In fact we must not forget. When a man’s child is murdered and he forgives the murderer, does that mean he has forgotten the existence of his child? It is incomprehensible to even think about. Linking ‘forgive and forget’ together does not make either easier to achieve.  In my opinion, true forgiveness, is that which is taught in the Bible. To forgive someone is to act as if the hurtful act has never taken place. We will always remember it but the important thing here is to live as if we do not remember it.

I hope as you read this you can find some comfort, encouragement or reassurance in my words. Until the next time, I hope you will find room for forgiveness…


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. cr
    Feb 09, 2010 @ 17:45:16

    Agree that if you remember the action you can you ever really forgive.

    Forgiving those that hurt you is not easy but the most difficult thing is
    forgiving those that hurt the ones you love.

    Not sure I am there yet!


  2. alphabetgames
    Feb 13, 2010 @ 22:08:05

    Cr, I most certainly have to agree with you. Not sure how good a Christian that makes me though….


  3. Trackback: forgiveness business « lengthening

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