You may have agreed theoretically that forgiving and forgetting is possible, but is it really? Absolutely (with God’s help) and with a little time, patience, and grace. Having a forgiving nature may not be a natural state of being, but it can become part of your relationship’s tool kit if you allow the fruits of the Spirit to work in your life. Matthew 18:21-22 – Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.
Before we look at how to forgive, let’s look at why people don’t forgive:
It feels unfair- It feels unfair to forgive someone who seemingly might be getting away with doing a very bad thing. It doesn’t match up with the idea of justice to not hold someone accountable and require restitution for their offense. It feels like your pain isn’t valid or important enough and that the offender is going to go without truly understanding the impact their actions have on you and others.
It feels good- The only reason someone holds onto negative feelings is that they are getting something out of it. Holding a grudge and being hostile feels good. It feels good to know someone owes you for their transgression. It feels good to be the center of other people’s sympathies and caring inquiries. Though it’s not socially fashionable to admit it, sometimes there is a weird celebrity to being a victim.
So, is forgiving and forgetting really possible?
If you are ready to let go of the weight that comes from staying stuck in unfairness and victimhood, it is entirely possible to forgive. Ephesians 4:32 – Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
It is possible to forgive and forget when these things come into play:
You can see more than one angle to the situation- In rare cases, the families of murder victims have found it in their hearts to offer forgiveness to people who have taken their loved ones. Looking past the offense and examining the circumstances in totality, they are able to humanize the offender and find it in their hearts to forgive and, in some cases, build a relationship that transcends the situation.
You can see a bigger picture- From knowing it is in your best interest physically and emotionally, to know that it’s ultimately best for others, forgiveness can come when you see a bigger picture. This holds true in divorce. Pain can be set aside for the benefit of children or extended family; forgiveness is key to co-parenting and harmony.
Your wisdom overrides your emotions- Emotions should not rule the roost. When wisdom dictates, forgiveness will happen. Wisdom sees the benefits despite the perceived loss. When wisdom nudges emotions to consider moving on, forgiveness is possible.
Forgiveness is always possible when the acuity of the situation dies down and the bigger picture comes into play. Give yourself time, patience, and grace, and you can find forgiveness. Colossians 3:13 – Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.