THE DIFFICULTY OF FORGETTING


Perhaps you are one who approaches forgiveness with a short list of demands that must be met. Some of the common qualifiers include:

  •           If they want me to forgive them, they have to admit they were wrong. I do not have to forgive them unless they repent.


  •        I’ll forgive them because it’s the right thing to do, but not because I want to.


  •         I’ll forgive them but they still owe me.


  •        I can forgive, but I don’t know if I can forget what they did.


It’s interesting the whole idea that forgetting is somehow linked to forgiveness. I think you can make a case that we will forget and a case that we will remember. What does memory have to do with your forgiveness?

God says that He will remember our sins no more when we turn to Him in repentance. But does God actually forget? Is it possibly a choosing to not bring the offence to memory?



And what about the things that you forgive others of? Are you expected to have no recall of events? Or is it something else?


Lewis B. Smedes wrote, “Forgiving does not erase the bitter past. A healed memory is not a deleted memory. Instead, forgiving what we cannot forget creates a new way to remember. We change the memory of our past into a hope for our future.’ [i]


I like that. Forgiveness creates a new way to remember. We let go of the past and hope for the future.

Maybe you still are holding out. Why should I forgive them after what they did to me? You my friend may be suffering from resentment.


‘Studies show that people who forgive are happier and healthier than those who hold resentments.[ii] People who were generally more neurotic, angry and hostile in life were less likely to forgive another person even after a long time had passed. Specifically, these people were more likely to still avoid their transgressor and want to enact revenge upon them two and a half years after the transgression.’  [iii]


Do you have symptoms of unforgiveness?

  •         Knot in your stomach and other physical ailments

  •         Painfully rehearsing every detail of offense

  •         Idealistic about what you expect from the one who hurt you

  •    Habit of defending your actions and needing others to understand your innocence

  •         Blaming the offender for your current state


Are you sick? There is a doctor in the house. His name is Jesus.





[iii]  Maltby, J., Wood, A. M., Day, L., Kon, T. W. H., Colley, A., and Linley, P. A. (2008). Personality predictors of levels of forgiveness two and a half years after the transgression. Journal of Research in Personality, 42, 1088-1094.

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