Forgiving Doesn’t Require Forgetting

We have all heard the term “Forgive and Forget”, and some people have heard that phrase so much that they begin to think that the two must work together.  They mistakenly think that “Forgiving” someone requires you to “Forget” what the other person did to you  – That is simply incorrect – Forgiving someone does not require that you Forget what they did wrong. In fact, there are many things one would be unwise to forget. For example, being beaten, abused, raped, betrayed, lied to, etc would be mistakes to forget.  Forgive, yes.  Forget, no.

There are many other mis-perceptions about what forgiving requires:

Forgiving doesn’t mean neglecting justice. You can forgive a person yet still pick up the phone and report them to the police. .  Forgiving someone doesn’t mean someone shouldn’t face the consequences for their actions.

Forgiving doesn’t mean enabling someone.  If you allow someone to continue to wrong you again and again then you yourself end up becoming a participant in the wrongdoing.  You become an enabler.  Don’t allow yourself to become an enabler.

Forgiveness doesn’t require you to trust someone again.  If someone molests or abuses a child and then someday feels genuine remorse for their actions, the child wronged can choose to forgive the inflicting person but still be wise enough to cut them out of their life.  It is okay for that child to choose to avoid putting themselves in harms way from a person who proved not to be trustworthy in their past, even when they have completely forgiven that person for hurting them.

Forgiveness doesn’t require reconciliation.  A person can choose to repent for doing something wrong.  The offended party can choose to forgive their offender completely. Those are two personal choices made by each individual, individually.  Reconciliation is very different from that.  Reconciliation is not a choice made individually, reconciliation can only happen if BOTH parties want it to happen – if either party doesn’t desire to have the other in their life then reconciliation is never going to happen. The offending party cannot force reconciliation if it is not the desire of the offended party.  The offending party should just be grateful they have been forgiven and move on with their life, leaving the offended party alone. They have to let go of the other person because the other person simply does not want them in their life. Forgiveness does not require reconciliation.

I believe in forgiveness with all my heart. I believe that forgiving people who have hurt or wronged you is one of the very best things you can do to help yourself to heal and move on in life.  I, like many of you, have experienced the hurt of being wronged by someone I loved and trusted. I have experienced the sadness and anger and bitterness and all the other emotions that come from being deeply hurt. And I have also experienced the peace that came when I was able to forgive that person. But I also know through personal experience the importance of not neglecting justice, not enabling, not trusting, and not forgetting.  I have learned that no one should ever feel guilted or pressured into reconciling with people they don’t want to have in their life.  Forgive? Always! But forget? Well that is totally up to you, so follow your own heart and never let others twist the meaning of forgiving to require things that it simply does not.

Have a fabulous day everyone!


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