Forgive and ?

Once up a time there was a girl who, by God’s design, was born into a family of many children. Though it may not have looked like it from the outside, this girl was blessed with many things. Grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles who loved her, sisters to play with and confide in, and little brothers to boss around. The world would have labeled her family poor, but you could not have convinced her this was so because she did not feel want or need.

There was just one problem. It seemed her skin was paper thin, and easily pierced to the heart by others. Sometimes, even, by those who loved her most. And so began her greatest challenge: To learn how to forgive.

To forgive whether she held partial blame or none at all. To forgive when words struck harder blows then a fist ever could. To forgive when misunderstood. To forgive before the sun went down. To forgive freely, without being asked. To forgive seventy times seven. In short, to forgive as she had been forgiven.

Time passed and the girl grew. She fell in love and married, and it just so happened that, by God’s design, she had seven children of her own. Soon she began teaching her sons and daughters all she knew about forgiveness, and how important it was, how necessary, how life-restoring. She watched with a heavy heart as they hurt each other and stubbornly withheld forgiveness. She mourned the pain they caused each other. She saw them with blinders on the eyes of their hearts, as they asked God to forgive them while at the same time stubbornly refusing to forgive others. They were so much like the Unmerciful Servant that Jesus spoke of in Matthew 18.

She pondered and prayed for a solution to this problem and one day it hit her: Perhaps they hadn’t learned the forgiveness lesson because she was unable to teach it correctly. Because she had not learned it fully herself.

She remembered the times she had been hurt and had offered forgiveness.

She remembered.

Could that be the problem? Justified in her mind by saying, “I don’t want to make that mistake again.” Or “Yes, I’ve forgiven, but…” And she wondered if forgiveness should come with such qualifications. Shouldn’t forgiveness be full and complete, no strings attached? Is it fair to say, “I’ve forgiven you” if the sin is pulled out from time to time and reviewed in the scrapbook of the mind? Is it right to replay it like a home video and allow the anger and hurt to fill the heart until there’s no room for anything else?

Other have told her it is. She supposed the saying, “I can forgive, but I’ll never forget” was born from such things. But it felt wrong to her for one simple reason: It’s not the way God has forgiven her. He has separated her from her sins, as far as east is from west (Psalm 103:12) and says He will remember them no more (Hebrews 8:12).

So ended her first challenge: To learn how to forgive, and so began her next greatest: To learn how to forget. She has a long, long way to go before reaching her goal. There will be days of marginal success and many more of complete failure. And considering all her sin and imperfections, she’s not even close to living happily ever after.

But one day, by God’s design, she will.


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11 thoughts on “Forgive and ?

  1. Well done and well said. My grandmother used to say, “To truly forgive, one must also forget.” Of course, she said it in French, so it sounded way cooler, but the translation stayed with me and I’ve never forgotten it. It’s a journey for me, too, Deb, something I struggle with…the forgetting.

    1. Hahahaaa! Yes, hearing it in French would make it go down easier, I’m sure. And not to say I’m glad you struggle with this, too, but it’s nice to hear I’m not the only one.

  2. I’ve pondered this many times and realized the same thing. But How does one Learn to forget? I do know it is possible to push things into the dark recesses of the mind. As one who was in an abusive relationship, I know that is possible. But I don’t believe we with our minute abilities, can totally forget, as God can. That is not to say one should hold on to the hurt and the wrongs that have been done.
    I personally have found that concentrating on God’s goodness and the forgiveness He has given, and living in gratitude helps to heal the hurt and blurr the picture (?) of the past. In time some things are at least temporarily forgotten. And when tempted, or prompted by circumstance, to bring those things out and re-examine them, a conscious effort can be made to refuse to do so.
    I don’t know if this will work for anyone else, but it has helped me.

    1. I know it’s much, much easier said than done. And the greater the hurt, the harder it is to forgive. I agree, too, that we are not capable as God is to forget. I use the same technique you do to get through those times when it’s troubling me – I think of all the blessings He has given me. I keep a journal of those blessings and each day think of something beautiful He gave me – even if it’s just a small thing like a hug from one of my children. It has helped me a lot to focus on those things instead of the negative things. Thanks for taking the time to comment, Alice! It is great to hear from you!

  3. Very good essay, Debra. Something we all struggle with. I see this a lot in our families, too. Thanks for a very important lesson, she said. I think writing in the third person is an effective technique. Love you!

    1. Thank you, Ann! This one was hard for me to write for some reason, so I’m glad you approve of the third person. 🙂 Lots of love to you, too.

  4. Debra, this essay speaks to all of us. I’m not so sure it is wise to completely forget. Yet it is wise to put it to rest and not resurrect the pain. True forgiveness comes from the heart. The brain is governed by emotion 🙂 Maybe that is why when I see my former husband, I feel more pity than anger, and I try to be friendly.

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