Remember the phrase “forgive and forget”? A very common thing to say or hear especially within the four walls of the church. I, personally have found myself use this phrase in many attempts to help someone completely forget about some kind of pain they had been caused by someone else. It is only with time that I have come to realize it is a dangerous way to live life.
I am an introvert. Those close to me know that I can only hold a conversation for so long and then quickly want to call it quits not because I have something else important to do but simply because I enjoy my own company. For people like myself, It’s easy to say “oh that’s okay” after experiencing some kind of hurt but subconsciously store it up in some part of our memory only to realize we aren’t ‘so okay’ after all when something similar re occurs. Many times we are hurt because we place people in high expectations and are unable to release them when they disappoint the role we needed them to fill.
Forgive and forget makes a nice slogan but the reality is, it is almost impossible to erase memories connected to your life that caused you to question your ability to trust again. I’ve had people ask me “Is it possible to forgive and forget?” Recently, my answer has always been forgive and remember.
I’ve had lessons from broken relationships that I still treasure and keep. Did it hurt? Yes! Do I still feel the pain when the memory comes to mind? No. But I’d forever cherish what my pain taught me. Yours may be a lost job or perhaps a broken marriage you invested so much time and effort into. Unforgiveness is surely poisonous but the real test of genuity in your forgiveness is the emotions that are stirred up in you when you remember whatever it is that caused you pain.
Our smile is the best camouflage that our bodies automatically exhibit as proof of “forgive and forget” but the reason I say ‘remember’ is to help you examine the state of your heart in a likely re occurrence of a similar situation. Will your heart still ache? Will you feel the need to distance yourself all the more from the villain? As nature has it, the true test of healing is not when the scar disappears but when we can no longer feel the pain in the same spot we used to. My new expression for such scars is; “God always leaves evidence”.
If we are able to recognize that people hurt us often out of their own brokenness or immaturity, we will develop a sense of empathy towards them which allows us to release them very quickly.
By all means, forgive but don’t forget. Remember until all of your hurt and pain is translated into empathy and maturity. Until the situation becomes so irrelevant to your present that you forget why you were hurting in the first place. Perhaps you may discover broken places in your life that needs healing too. Don’t be quick to tuck your hurt under a carpet labelled “forget”. It’s only a matter of time and you’d find blood oozing from the same spot at the slightest tickle. Why such a hurry to forget though? Maybe because it still hurts? And if it does, maybe your forgiveness is not complete. Don’t get me wrong. There are times the enemy capitalizes on our remembrance to cause unnecessary pain and that should be prayed out. By all means, forgive and remember Pain is only your servant never your master.
Written by Kukua Asihene