Do I Need to Forget to Forgive?

 

Forgiving and forgetting are often interchangeable in conversations. But the thing is, THEY AREN’T.

It’s not required that you forget offenses in order to forgive your offender. In fact, sometimes it’s completely unwise to do so.

I believe that the only time forgetting is required is when reconciliation is the goal. You all know that I don’t think reconciliation is appropriate in 100% of situations nor is it required for your forgiveness.

But if you’re not letting go of that memory you’re just holding onto the past and harping on that pain!

Not necessarily. Yes, some people need an exercise in release. But I’m someone that remembers certain offenses without still living in the offense. Forgiveness isn’t about forgetting, it’s about how you remember.

  • The Molester

I feel like I’m at a place in my life where, as I confront what has happened and learn to love and accept me in spite of it all, I’ve grown to a place of forgiveness.

I shared, this week, on my YouTube about what it was like for me to see him again years after the abuse.

For me, my forgiveness looks like grace. It’s me choosing to recognize that he was a child himself. He was operating at a smaller dimension of emotional and physical maturity.

I’m by no means excusing his behavior. But I’m allowing myself to see the molestation in context for the both of us. I’m allowing myself to move beyond the place where I feel he victimized me and instead choosing to embrace the truth that, at his age, he only could have been repeating behavior he was shown.

But even though I can exercise forgiveness I will never let myself forget.

I would never see him in passing and be excited to see him! I’d never develop a relationship with him. I’d never let my children be around him. That’s just wisdom! If you know someone is dangerous you don’t let yourself or other people you love forget that. You engage at the level appropriate.

I will be honest here though and say that being this way has had some detriments in my life. It, at times, has made me more fearful for my children. I don’t like my children to be in certain environments and I do 21 questions often!

The issue isn’t with my caution or inquisitiveness but with the fear that prompts it.

I’m working on that every day!

  • The Judas

So, then there’s my Judas. LoL

This person was closer to me than most ever will be. She was more than a friend she was like a sister to me. Our families spent birthdays and holidays together. We loaned each other money, bought each other groceries, etc.

We were extremely close.

After almost 3 years of friendship all of that fell apart. And not only did it fall apart it was MESSY AS HELL!!

For 6 months I just didn’t talk to her. I was so angry that I knew whatever came out of my mouth would probably be something I’d regret later.

I didn’t address her until I started hearing versions of the story that weren’t true.

How you telling people I’m mad because of XYZ and we never even had a conversation?

So I reached out solely with intentions to get it straight! And I let myself get swept up in the idea of burying the hatchet.

THAT DIDN’T WORK!!

It wasn’t until almost a year later, as I began to grow and understand some things about myself that I realized what was wrong. I had wanted her to be my Paul when she was only ever meant to be a Timothy. That was my bad!

This is that accountability piece that I mention with forgiveness.

I had allowed my emotional immaturity to dictate the level of intimacy between her and me and had put unfair expectations on her. I reached out with this new insight, apologized for my part, and we tried to move to a place of reconciliation.

But it just wasn’t working.

We kept trying to pick up where we had left off and it was clearly being forced. Neither of us really trusted the other and so I finally resolved that we should probably just let it die.

Almost a year later I started hearing the voice of God in regards to her. Pressing on my heart to reach out. So I would, very casually, and then leave it there. Because as far as I was concerned I wasn’t going down that road again. It had died.

“I’m good Jesus. SAVE IT!”

Then she invited me to lunch and it got hard.

I confided to my husband that I really was afraid to go down that road again. I felt like it’d be foolish to open myself back up to that. And I didn’t know how to hash out our past without getting mad at the stupidity of it all. And he told me to ask God what it was that needed to happen.

So I asked God and in that moment I knew that this was about me practicing moving forward while deading the past.

I will say that part of this is probably you guy’s fault. I have to live it for me to share it! THANKS A LOT!! LoL

So I accepted her invite to lunch on the condition that we start all the way over. No reminiscing on the past. No clearing things up. I didn’t want to talk about it or figure it out. I just wanted to extend grace to our past and move forward. She agreed.

Understand, we didn’t say “let’s let go of the past and go right back to the relationship we had.” No. This was a letting go and starting over. I knew it could only work if I allowed her to re-introduce herself to me as she got to meet who I am today as well.

It’s been 3 months but it’s been really good. I’ve been able to be a friend when she needs one. Offer different perspectives. And our kids are ecstatic to be able to hang out again.

It’s been a good fit for everyone.


Not every relationship will suffer an offense most will, of some magnitude. How we deal with them after the fact is determined by the destiny of the relationship.

Is this a relationship that needs reconciliation or can it die after the offense? The answer to THIS question is what helps you to figure out if you need to FORGET with your forgiveness.

Just don’t use an inability to forget as your excuse to not walk in forgiveness.

Forgiveness is for you. Forgetting is for the relationship.

Forgiving and forgetting aren’t interchangeable. They work together. But only when appropriate.

Believing for your limitless lives. #limitlesslife #meandthenwe

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