Forgiving and Not Forgetting

“Those who say they will forgive but can’t forget, simply bury the hatchet but leave the handle out for immediate use.”

Dwight L Moody


Do you believe that forgiveness cannot take place unless the wrongful action is forgotten?

2 thoughts on “Forgiving and Not Forgetting

  1. It may be human to forgive, yet difficult to forget; the more dire the event, the more serious or more personal the transgression, of course it is difficult. Maybe we do not always want to forget, or maybe we are not the ones qualified to do the forgiving. Too many of these moments can build up, the ones where we do not forgive and forget, and these experiences can wear us down. I balance this with that I do not wish to forgive superficially or in words only.

    Simon Wiesenthal shared a story that is a tad distant from me now, but he was asked by a member of the SS in his dying moments to forgive all of these Jewish people he had killed during the Holocaust. I believe he walked away. Someone else may better recall the story. He did not think it was his place to forgive this person, or something like that. I do not mean to say the whole story wrong, but I think I have the gist of it as it stayed with me in one of those what would you do moments, in which I had no perfect answer, and was glad it did not happen to me.

    I have experienced some odd situations where people wanted forgiveness to have it or for other reasons, clearly not understanding what they had done. I will share one experience of a friend. Someone I know was raped when an intruder broke into her apartment through a locked, glass window, when she was a college student. The perpetrator was asked to apologize, and he did so like it meant nothing to him, uncaring about the violence perpetrated, just wanting to receive the best plea deal, to see if he might avoid jail time. She had to learn to forgive herself, not for being in her locked home at night, but for reacting so poorly to the situation, holding onto it for years, when sometimes terrible nightmares happen, and it seems very authentic to hold onto that pain, and I did not want to judge it. The hatchet may have been out not to forgive, but it had to find its proper place, and sometimes that takes time.

    We do not go through life perfectly. Seeing some of the consequences of people who use their energy holding onto pain, of course I wish to say, forgive, forget. I do not know that they always go hand in hand. In twelve step groups, they ask people to make amends, and try to teach people how to do this, so that it does not bring more harm to the person who receives the apology. Sometimes we grow from pain, that it makes us the people we are, or to choose the work we do, so do we really always want to forget? The topic is complex.

    At this point I think that forgiveness can take place without the action being forgotten. I am unsure on this question. I responded, and will read other comments.

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