Matthew 6:14-15 (NKJ), Jesus says, “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
When I was a young child, forgiving was a word that was so hard for me. Like, how can you forgive your brother, who pulled your hair and ran as fast as he could to the bushes, while you screamed bloody murder? Then, to top it off, you received a 1960’s scolding (most know what that is) from your mother for screaming! “Laura Mignon, I’ll give you something to cry about. Stop that screaming!” Believe me, she would never have believed that the culprit was hiding in the bushes with the evidence, a handful of long, black hair. Ok, everyone, I was probably five, and I still can remember that day very clearly. The only thing that’s different from then and now is that I don’t feel the pain and anger of that day. Instead, it feels quite funny now….
As I grew into a teenager, forgiving became a word that made you sound weak. It was like saying, “Ok, just go ahead and throw me down like rug and walk all over me.” Stubborn is more like it. Oh, the pain of our teenage years and how that pain tried to mold us into being selfish idiots of society. It didn’t work, though; just like above, it kinda makes me laugh at all the silly things I didn’t forgive back then. Like the day my girlfriend started dating my old boyfriend that I had for 2 days. He eventually dumped both of us by the end of the week, leaving us with a severed friendship, all due to the immaturity of not forgiving.
Then came the adult years, the true agony of the forgiving years because it feels like we are doing it every day. People gossiping, slander, friends causing drama, co-workers being hateful, spouses ranting and raving over spilt milk, people being inconsiderate, and just plain grouchiness. We’ve all been there on both sides; none of us is without having to forgive or being forgiven, right? But as an adult, there seems to come one stipulation, and that is NEVER FORGET. Come on, we’ve all heard or have said, “I can forgive, but I can never forget.” I mean, that is pretty powerful, don’t you think? It’s like, yeah, I’m forgiving them, but I’m going to throw this one requirement in: I WON’T FORGET. I’ve said it before, and I’ve heard it a million times, and when we say it or hear it, that last line never sounds like forgiveness. The tone can come across, as a matter of fact, firm, scolding, and just plain mad—which, in return, equals “forgive not, forget not.”
Micah 7:19 (NIV) You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.
As I study God’s Word, I realized that God wants us to forgive just like He does. To truly forgive is to truly forget. I know that we cannot do that by ourselves without giving the pain, anger, and fixing of our hearts to Him. You say, “Yeah, but what about those actions of people who continue to do you wrong, and some of the wrongs are harmful and just plain unforgettable?” I totally understand that some true forgiveness has to have boundaries, like being in abusive relationship, putting your children in harms way, negative people that continue to bring you down, or people taking advantage of you.
Boundaries and forgetting, to me, are two different things. Through Christ, I can set boundaries knowing how a certain person is and still forgive and forget the pain that they inflicted on me. The reason I know this is that He has done this for me in my life. When asking God to work on me and to take the pain away, so I can truly forgive, He gives me freedom by helping me forget the painful infliction. Without forgetting, we become tangled in a web of continual pain, and I call that bondage, not peace. God wants us to be released from such continual resentment and, only through Him, can we truly feel the freedom of forgiving and forgetting.
Try it the next time when you need to forgive someone. It’s one of the most beautiful gifts God wants to give us.
Ephesians 4:32 Be kind to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. NIV