Last night at Think Tank, – aka Tabernacle’s Bible Study- we discussed the tension Christian’s may feel around the concept of “forgiveness.”
We’ve all been told the phrase, “Forgive and Forget,” or read the scriptures:
- Matthew 6:14-15 “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
- Ephesians 4:32 “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
I’m cool with the idea of “forgiveness” but when it comes to “forgetting, I can’t help but think, “or nah?” Or, as my mother would say to my siblings and I growing up, “nix nein nein,” which I believe is “No” in German.
For the record, I’m the queen of petty and don’t always practice what I preach but I’m a firm believer in the idea of not letting anyone rent space in your head for free.
For our own sanity, it helps to “let go and let God.”
The person who wronged us may not change their behavior or fully understand the pain they’ve caused, but I’d argue the moment we evict that person from our heads is the moment we take a step towards liberation; towards peace.
Again, I’m stuck on the idea of “forgetting.”
Asking a person to forget another’s wrongdoing, to me, is equivalent to telling Jewish people to forget the Holocaust. Asking Black folk to forget their people were enslaved and, to this day, continue to be enslaved in more “creative” ways like mass incarceration. To ask Native folks to forget the Europeans who stole and continue to steal their homelands. Asking a survivor of domestic violence to forget years of abuse.
Yeah, this whole “Forgive AND forget” just ain’t sitting well with me.
I’m sure life would be much easier if we could just ‘ctrl+alt+delete’ but we’re not computers and we can’t simply erase memories and experiences from our minds at the click of a few buttons. Nor, should we. Good or bad, our experiences shape and craft us into the people we are today.
I think I like “Forgive, acknowledge, hold accountable and set boundaries” better.
Using myself as an example, I’d love for my ex-partner to forgive me for the pain I’ve caused him and acknowledge what I did as wrong and – if not for me, for him- identify his feelings and express the impact of my actions. I’d love for him to- as he has- hold me accountable and not turn a blind eye to what I did. Lastly, I’d love for him to set boundaries for future interactions between us; which, unfortunately for me, includes choosing not to invite me into his space anymore.
Yes, “Forgive, acknowledge, hold accountable and set boundaries” sits much better with me.
What do you think? As Christians- shoot, as humans- are we obligated to “Forgive and Forget?” What does forgiveness look like to you? Can we forgive and not forget? Do you have a better equation?
I want to hear and learn from you.