Often, we are told, in the name of being obedient or “good”, to forgive and forget. What does this really mean, and is it possible to truly forgive and forget?
I suppose that depends upon what you are forgiving and forgetting. If you are forgiving and forgetting someone cutting you off in traffic, or taking the parking place you were going for in a busy lot, maybe you can forgive and forget that.
What happens when we consider something on a larger scale?
You or a family member or close friend becomes the victim of a violent crime.
A doctor misdiagnoses you, and now you face a deeply rooted serious illness.
Your spouse abandons you without reason, and your personal and financial life is devastated.
You are unfairly fired from the job you badly needed.
You are the victim of domestic abuse, or, more accurately, home violence. You leave your home one day with only what you can carry.
Yes, I believe you can work on forgiving the person or persons responsible for these things. But forgetting these things? No, I don’t think so.
When events are major markers in our lives, we don’t really forget them unless something happens to damage our memories or thinking processes.
Just as we don’t forget the high points of life ( graduating from school, a first job, a wedding day, a child’s birth, a grandchild’s birth, that first apartment or house, etc.), we don’t forget the deep injuries because these events shape our lives and often permanently change life’s direction.
Forgiveness does free us, and keeps a single event from destroying other good things life could offer. What about the forgetting?
Well, you might not be able to forget the event, but you can choose to forget how it made you feel. You can forget the sense of being less than, the sense of being unappreciated, the sense of being forgotten and disrespected, the sense of being unwanted and uncared for, the sense of being less valuable than others seem to be.
You can remind yourself on a daily basis: what someone else did is not the defining moment of my life, unless I allow it.
And actually, why should you forget? Someday, you may be able to help someone else by saying: “Yes, it’s possible to overcome _______. I know, because I’ve been there and I’ve done it Let me help you on that path.”
In the back of my mind, there’s also my little suspicion that people who say we should forgive and forget sometimes just want to set us up to be hurt over and over again by someone who doesn’t care about us and doesn’t deserve the right to injure us without limit.
Forgive because forgiving is one of the most healing gifts you can give yourself. You have to do it on purpose and no one can do it for you. You put your own life back on course when you forgive. It’s a reclaiming of your power. Without forgiveness, the injury-maker reshapes your entire life and you shouldn’t give them that right.
In the back of your mind, you know the person who injured you really can’t heal you, so if you want to be healed, why keep your energy pointed in their direction? Get help if you need it, but release the injury-maker and take your life back.
Forget the pain and remember the victory. Grow stronger, share, help others, and widen the circle of your life. That’s true winning.