Sign in to follow this  
prisonchaplain

Forgive AND Forget?

Recommended Posts

Often, when abusers or cheaters request forgiveness, they insinuate that if we are real Christ-followers we would "forgive and forget."  I contend that we forgive--meaning we turn over our right to revenge to God.  We hold no grudge, and wish no malice.  However, forgetting is something that only God is in a position to do.  Only He is all-powerful and all-knowing.  So, only God is in a position not to be taken advantage of.  God does not need the memory of our past sins to help him know our spirits.  So, He is able to truly cast our sins as far as the east is from the west.  The forgiveness we extend should never be forced.  It should never be perceived as diminishing the hurt and the offense.  And, it should never result in victims reentering toxic relationships.  Forgiveness is not trust.  Trust may or may not be regained.  When it does come, the journey should be gradual--paced by the victim.

 

Thoughts?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest

I like the idea, personally, that if I truly forgive I will naturally forget the offense. It makes sense to me. I have done it both ways meaning I have claimed to have forgiven but found myself each time I re-encountered the offender thinking to myself, "Oh there's the guy that did "x" to me." And I have been fortunate, too, in being able to re-encounter an offender and not think about anything but, "Let's go have some fun," kind of like when I was a child. (This feels more liberating to me--as opposed to being a prisoner of the hurt.)  

 

But I do understand that forgetting doesn't mean being foolish where I allow the offender to claim repentance but hurt me over again and maybe again. I can forgive the repentant thief and forget the event, but I'll be sure to lock my door next time I leave the house.

Edited by UT.starscoper

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest

Not in this life, when they could still be a threat. Forgiveness =/= trust. 

 

In my opinion, "forget" while we're in a fallen world means we don't keep dwelling on it. But any abuser would have no further access to anyone in my realm of stewardship.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest LiterateParakeet

PC, I really love this post. I couldn't agree more!

People often think that "forgive and forget" comes from the Bible, but actually it's from Shakespeare's "King Lear".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In my mind, it is impossible to forget.  Especially if it is an ongoing offense or a heinous offense.  I am the survivor of several years of rape and sexual abuse.  That is something I cannot forget, although I have forgiven my offenders.  Those years of abuse totally made me into something different than what I would have become had I not been their victim.  No amount of counselling or therapy will ever make me whole.  Only the Atonement can accomplish that.  While I have forgiven them, I have no contact with the main abuser.  My dad always told me about a quote from Brigham Young that I think is very applicable.  I don't remember the exact wording, but it goes something like this:  Forgive all men, but don't take a snake back to your bosom.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Often, when abusers or cheaters request forgiveness, they insinuate that if we are real Christ-followers we would "forgive and forget."  I contend that we forgive--meaning we turn over our right to revenge to God.  We hold no grudge, and wish no malice.  However, forgetting is something that only God is in a position to do.  Only He is all-powerful and all-knowing.  So, only God is in a position not to be taken advantage of.  God does not need the memory of our past sins to help him know our spirits.  So, He is able to truly cast our sins as far as the east is from the west.  The forgiveness we extend should never be forced.  It should never be perceived as diminishing the hurt and the offense.  And, it should never result in victims reentering toxic relationships.  Forgiveness is not trust.  Trust may or may not be regained.  When it does come, the journey should be gradual--paced by the victim.

 

Thoughts?

 

I like this post.  I think we should "forget" in the sense of not dwelling on it.  We need to get over it.  However, we don't always lose memory of things.  Which is probably good; we couldn't be as wise if we did.  The offender doesn't necessarily gain our trust because we've forgiven them.  Continued appropriate behavior builds trust, it's not automatically granted. That's true whether I know you once had a shady past or you are a complete stranger.  We are commanded to love everyone, but not commanded to trust everyone.  In fact, we're taught that man is unreliable and we should put our trust in the Lord.  "Thus saith the Lord; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord." (Jer. 17:5) (See also 2 Chr. 32:8, Ps. 20:7, Ps. 146:3, Isa. 2:22, Micah 7:5)

I think my explanation of how we should "forget" is similar to how the Lord "remembers" our sins no more (e.g. Isaiah 43:25, Hebrews 8:12, Ps. 79:8).  I take that to mean He doesn't hold them against us and it's as if they didn't happen.  But, he doesn't lose memory of them.  He is all knowing.  I think He knows bad things that I did, and I have no problem with that because He loves me and has forgiven me.  He knows about the woman taken in adultery (John 8:11), and the woman who anointed His feet (Luke 7:47), etc.  If he didn't know those things, we would know something He doesn't.  We would even know scriptures that He doesn't.  That's my take on it, and I acknowledge I don't have a perfect understanding of this.  The important thing is knowing we can be completely forgiven, cleansed, and changed and so can others.

Edited by Rhoades

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here - have a 5 minute podcast from a secular perspective on the topic of forgiveness, that may change your life:

 

Forgiveness - Prager University

 

This podcast (appropriately, in my view), breaks down forgiveness into 3 categories: exoneration, forbearance, and release.  All three involve forgiving.  But who you are forgiving and what they're up to, indicate which level of forgiving is required.  Very relevant, even if there's not a single "thus saith the Lord" anywhere in the clip.

Edited by NeuroTypical

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Often, when abusers or cheaters request forgiveness, they insinuate that if we are real Christ-followers we would "forgive and forget."  I contend that we forgive--meaning we turn over our right to revenge to God.  We hold no grudge, and wish no malice.  However, forgetting is something that only God is in a position to do.  Only He is all-powerful and all-knowing.  So, only God is in a position not to be taken advantage of.  God does not need the memory of our past sins to help him know our spirits.  So, He is able to truly cast our sins as far as the east is from the west.  The forgiveness we extend should never be forced.  It should never be perceived as diminishing the hurt and the offense.  And, it should never result in victims reentering toxic relationships.  Forgiveness is not trust.  Trust may or may not be regained.  When it does come, the journey should be gradual--paced by the victim.

 

Thoughts?

perhaps we should ask what are we supposed to forget?

I would put forth that it is not the event itself we are to forget, but the desire for any sort of vengence, debt, justice things of that nature that one assumes is incurred when one is sinned against.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think when the Lord admonishes us to forgive He's really telling us to trust Him first.. Trust that He has the power to heal the hurt caused by others. I equate losing the hurt to forgetting mostly.. But I do believe that forgetting is also an ongoing choice. Others have already wisely pointed out that we shouldn't dwell upon what's happened to us. Needless suffering has never been a part of God's plan which is why we're permitted, in fact commanded, to bring it to Him. The longer we dwell in the hurt, without reaching for Him, the more probable it becomes that we're suffering to our detriment rather than for our growth and betterment. Even still, as we struggle to reach for Him, in faith, we need to be kind to ourselves .. And patient and trusting in the process. When the pain is extreme and the damage is severe, it sometimes becomes almost impossible to see or understand things that had been once so clear to us before. "Judgement is mine.. Vengeance is mine" the Lord warns us.. Not to chastise us, but to protect us from additional harm that we might inflict upon ourselves. Righteous judgement is already difficult and complicated enough when we're in a healthy and balanced state of mind! So, mercifully, He's giving us a pass. We may, at some point, be able to seek redress through the law, as may be our right and as might also be wise in preventing future harm to ourselves and others.. But even then we need to be cautious in our approach, as we seek for justice, that our righteous anger doesn't quickly become just plain old ANGER and then transform itself ultimately into hatred .. Which not only brings back the previous pain and suffering with a vengeance all its own, but also the terrible emptiness of sin which is separation from He who would have gathered us again and again had we not wandered away from Him.

Edited by theSQUIDSTER

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I believe that we must forget to forgive - it is part of our faith in Christ and his sacrifice.  However, I will openly admit that I have some personal difficulties that I am working on.  And when someone that has offended me brings up the subject that I must forgive them and forget their offense - My response is that I am honestly working on it and it would help greatly if they would quit reminding me over and over and over again of their offense and my difficulty and weakness to forgive them and forget what they have done. 

Edited by Traveler

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

PC - I think you missed the most important point of all.  The reason to forget is not for the benefit of the sinner.  G-d does not forget sin but he does not tarnish himself with the memory.  It is the memory of sin that torments.  G-d for gives and forgets to free himself.  It is the last step to be free of sin  -- is to forget.  I think the problemk, like so many problem that are created by thinking of scripture in literal terms is that the symbolism of forgetting sins is lost in the interpertation.   A memory of sin constantly grinding at one's heart and soul is the torment of hell - and it does not even need to be the memory of our sins - in fact it is more likely to be the sins of others.

 

Trust is not the default of dealing one with another - trust must be earned.  G-d loves us all and that is the commandment he requires of us - there is no commandment to trust others - and what is missing in understanding the trust of G-d is the necessary element of covenant.  The only way to have G-d's trust is by covenant.  If we are not willing to covenant with him - there is no promise.  If we enterinto covenant with G-d and his covenant children - our sins are forgotten - it is our covenant and our opedience to that covenant that is remembered.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Traveler, It was LiterateParakeet that correctly pointed out that "forgetting" sin is not even biblical--it's Shakespeare.  So, while I can certainly see potential emotional/psychological, and yes spiritual, benefits from forgetting past experiences of abuse, I'm at a loss to find biblical support for the notion that this is the final step of forgiveness, and that it is necessary for the abused to experience true freedom.  Further, my understanding of God's perfection prevents me from thinking God needs to forget to achieve kind of improvement in his being--that this amnesia is for his benefit, more than ours.  Perhaps you can explain your thinking more, including some scriptural examples?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest LiterateParakeet

 So, while I can certainly see potential emotional/psychological, and yes spiritual, benefits from forgetting past experiences of abuse, 

 

PC and Traveler,

 

You can't forget abuse, nor should you.  Some who are highly traumatized can repress the memories of abuse for a time, until they are strong enough to deal with those memories, but that is not the same as forgetting.  

 

There is growth and strength that comes from overcoming abuse, but part of that growth and strength comes from remembering.  

I have a scriptural example, sort of.   :)  I've been reading the 1 Nephi in the Book of Mormon.  Nephi's family had serious issues.  Once after Nephi's brother's "sought to take away his life" (possibly not the first time?) they apologized (as is a pattern for abusers, to show remorse later).  Nephi forgave them.  

 

But things didn't get any better, in fact they got worse.  Later his brothers not only wanted to kill Nephi, but their father Lehi too.  The Lord told Nephi to take his family and all who followed him to flee into the wilderness.  Apparently, that was THE only way to stop the abuse.  

If Nephi and his followers forgot about the abuse, they might have returned to "reunite the family"....and continued to suffer and possibly be killed.

 

This same pattern is still happening in families today.  

 

Also if one forgets the abuse, how can you be grateful to the Lord for bringing you through the hell?  How can you be empathetic to others who are suffering in the same way?

 

There are lesser offenses that one can forgive and "forget". In the sense that I'm not going to remember my husband and I's first argument and bring that up in every succeeding disagreement that we have.  That would only serve to create more problems in our relationship.  Or if one of my teenagers, in a moment of anger says something hurtful, I'm not gong to hold on to that forever.  I'm going to let it go. So in that sense, forgive and forget, could mean to move forward as if the offense had not happened.  

Edited by LiterateParakeet

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest LiterateParakeet

forgetting sin is not biblical?

Isaiah 43:25 Hebrews 10:17 Hebrews 8:12 Jeremiah 31:34

Book of Mormon Alma 36:13 Alma 36:19

Those are all either about the Lord forgetting our sins, or someone forgetting their own. Either case is very different than what I'm talking about.

Another example from the scriptures is Joseph of Eqypt. When his brothers first came to Eqypt he didn't reveal himself to them. First he tested them to see if they had changed...clearly showing that he had not forgotten their abuse (nor should he have). It wasn't until after they had proven that they were changed men that he revealed his true identity to them. Depending on your definition, we could say he didn't forgive them until then-or not- because forgiveness means different things to different people.

So Traveler are you suggesting that abuse or rape survivors, or the surviving family members of murder victims should forgive and FORGET? If so, please explain why you think that would be safe.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd also like Traveler's opinion on abuse victims who have turned heaven and earth in a multi-year long sincere attempt to forget the abuse, and have been unable to do so.  Do they stand condemned for not following this supposed commandment to forget?  Are they merely lying to themselves somehow about their sincerity to truly forget?  If they show symptoms of PTSD and the memory just pushes itself to prominence and replays itself forcing the victim to relive parts of the trauma, are they somehow sinning?

 

Got a wife with mostly-resolved PTSD.  Maybe once every 2-3 years, something triggers her and part of the abuse memory takes over and plays itself out, leaving her with a pounding heartbeat, cold sweats, extreme anxiety, and borderline hyperventilation.  I'm interested to hear your take on her inability to remove these traumatic rememberings, and whether you think she is committing the sin of not forgetting.

Edited by NeuroTypical

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

forgetting sin is not biblical?

 

Isaiah 43:25 Hebrews 10:17 Hebrews 8:12 Jeremiah 31:34

 

 

Book of Mormon

Alma 36:13 Alma 36:19

 

 

In all three of the Bible verses it is God who forgets.  My argument in the OP and the LinkedIn posting is that only God can be expected to do so, because only He is all-knowing and all-powerful.  Thus, only the Almighty can forget without becoming vulnerable.  It is especially unfair to burden victims of abuse with the expectation that they must forget severe abuse and trauma (thus potentially opening them up to being re-abused and re-traumatized).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It is my honest opinion that we are sailing in a ocean with much more depth than our surface discussion has navigated.    I am kind of at a loss with where to go from here - because it appears to me that there is just too much separation both in understanding and perhaps even desire to explorer the depths of possibilities. 

 

First I would purport that despite the scripture - that G-d in reality does not actually forget anything - ever.  Secondly I would also purport that the principle that is being taught in scripture is indeed meant more in purpose for us humans to emulate and learn than it is describing divine character that we are to avoid and deny ourselves at all costs. 

 

We are counseled in scripture to always remember certain things - this does not mean that we will eternally burn in hell if for some brief moment the thought slipped our minds.  Scientifically the human brain is designed to maintain thoughts in a single threaded manner.  This is why Jesus said we cannot serve two masters.  Our thought and memory can have only one master.

 

I am sure that when we forgive we are not to remained stuck in the mindset of bitterness and being a victim.  That tends to soil our love of our fellow men.  There is also something else at play - on the surface it is called trust but this is a deep part of our ocean.   It would seem to me that there are suggestions that since we are not enough like G-d that we are unable to develop relationship based on trust - only on love.   That is part of what I think is missing.  The other part is the whole victim thing.  When our memories bring pain and fear we will always remain in the bondage of victim-hood. 

 

Obviously I am not smart enough or eloquent enough explain how repentance as a covenant with G-d will deliver a tender child of G-d from the pains of all levels that come from those that transgress against us but it is my understanding that what we bear (remember) of the transgressions against us will be the manner of remembrance that G-d will return to us.  And this is just the beginning of understanding the depths of this ocean we are exploring - or not.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Healing, trust-building, leaving victimhood (or bereavement) for a "new normal"--these are slow, steady, gradual processes. Occasionally God does a miracle, and instantaneous wellness comes. We rejoice when that happens.  Many marriages survive a singular infidelity, and trust gets rebuilt. Again, we rejoice in those. A good number of churches welcome those who have been found guilty of abuses (even of children). Protocols are in place to protect such folk from temptation, and to protect the vulnerable. How good that such people can worship in community.

 

What some of us are resisting in the notion that "forgetting" should be immediate, or in any way rushed.  Further, that those who have abused should be quickly given full restoration, and that any hesitance on the part of past victims might be labeled un-forgiveness or a deficient spirituality.  Academics tell us that reaching a "new normal" after death typically takes 4-5 years.  Divorce recovery can be longer.  This new place of wholeness is not the status quo ante.  There is no going back.

 

These are deep waters. Offering hope to those who've transgressed (I have a vested interest in promoting that, btw), while providing understanding, support and safety those who have suffered abuse is difficult.  We who walk with Jesus and are filled with God's Spirit are equipped to succeed.  Lead us, O LORD.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Healing, trust-building, leaving victimhood (or bereavement) for a "new normal"--these are slow, steady, gradual processes. Occasionally God does a miracle, and instantaneous wellness comes. We rejoice when that happens.  Many marriages survive a singular infidelity, and trust gets rebuilt. Again, we rejoice in those. A good number of churches welcome those who have been found guilty of abuses (even of children). Protocols are in place to protect such folk from temptation, and to protect the vulnerable. How good that such people can worship in community.

 

What some of us are resisting in the notion that "forgetting" should be immediate, or in any way rushed.  Further, that those who have abused should be quickly given full restoration, and that any hesitance on the part of past victims might be labeled un-forgiveness or a deficient spirituality.  Academics tell us that reaching a "new normal" after death typically takes 4-5 years.  Divorce recovery can be longer.  This new place of wholeness is not the status quo ante.  There is no going back.

 

These are deep waters. Offering hope to those who've transgressed (I have a vested interest in promoting that, btw), while providing understanding, support and safety those who have suffered abuse is difficult.  We who walk with Jesus and are filled with God's Spirit are equipped to succeed.  Lead us, O LORD.

 

The ancient reference was "The Way" or "The Path"  It was never intended to be instant - though it may appear to be so on occasions; to believe it so or possible is just incomplete view.  It is all part of the process of conversion and learning to walk the path - with G-d.  It is not the path to G-d but the way he walks and our opportunity to become converted to his way.  It is the old argument - that we can never be a G-d (or like G-d) or even hope to be so.  But any other way or path is an illusion that leads to various destinations of deceptions.  

 

The things we are talked about in this thread are not a goal or a destination.  That is the misunderstanding.  Walking away from victim-hood is not a destination - it is only a beginning of a journey - that we can become - a Traveler.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest

Sorry, I didn't read the responses to the OP.  I just read the OP and thought of this.

 

My dad is a believer of "let bygones be bygones".  My mother, on the other hand, is the one who won't forget... so, my dad can be best friends with the same guy who robbed him years ago.  My mother, on the other hand, won't even attend his mass even if he fully repented and became a priest.

 

I like my dad's outlook in life and it is the same one I live by.  Let bygones be bygones.  Simplified by this example:  Two friends were playing in the school playground and the one girl punches the other girl on the face.  The girl who got punched goes to her mother and and tells her about it.  The mother tells her to forgive her.  The other girl goes to her mother and boasts that she punched another girl.  The mother sits her down and teaches her that it was a bad thing to do, so the child felt deep remorse.  So she asks her mom to drive her to the other girl's house and she asked for forgiveness.  The other girl happily forgives her and everything is better.  The next day, they meet at the playground.  The girl who got punched saw the other girl playing, so she walked off and sat in the library to read instead so she won't have to play with the other girl.  When the mother picked her up from the library, she asked her why she didn't play in the playground.  She replied, the girl who punched me was playing there.

 

This is a classic Catholic elementary school instruction on forgiveness.  The girl who got punched really has not truly forgiven the other girl.

 

Now, as far as abuse goes and getting suckered into toxic relationships because of "forgetting" the offense... I don't see it this way.  Rather, I see it as the one getting abused never did really learn the life lesson of abuse.  The life lesson is not specific to the person.  That event is bygone (unless the abuse is still ongoing, then it's not bygone so you have to still deal with the event).  As you get over the difficult trial of having to heal from abuse, you learn the lesson of awareness and watchfulness for signs of abuse.  The lesson applies to everybody you meet and not just targeted to the person who abused you.  Letting the specific event be bygone, therefore, gives the abuser the proper chance of righting the wrong through repentance and truly feeling the effects of forgiveness.  The newly-learned awareness of the abused empowers him to be able to still have real charity for the abuser while having the knowledge to avoid becoming a victim.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Anatess, part of the awareness that might be learned from experience abuse is to be extra careful around those who have inflicted such in the past.  In your understanding of letting bygones be bygones is there room for such targeted extra vigilance?  Likewise, are churches wrong to require added precautions (i.e. rules) for past abusers--especially of children?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest

Anatess, part of the awareness that might be learned from experience abuse is to be extra careful around those who have inflicted such in the past.  In your understanding of letting bygones be bygones is there room for such targeted extra vigilance?  Likewise, are churches wrong to require added precautions (i.e. rules) for past abusers--especially of children?

 

In my practice of bygones be bygones I don't "profile" extra vigilance to specific people due to specific actions against me.  Rather, I go by trust.  Someone who has not committed atrocities but has not gained trust is of the same boat as someone who has committed atrocities and has not gained trust.  I have certain boundaries for people that I have not established trust and different boundaries for those I do trust.

 

Churches cater to the weak of us - including the protection of innocents from past abusers who may not have completed their repentance process.  These innocents may be people who have as yet to learn the practical life lesson of awareness.  At the same time, the Church guides and aids the penitent in his journey to full repentance.

 

You are aware of the sexual abuse committed by priests in the Catholic Church.  This process of repentance is at the very heart of the actions of the Catholic Church and their unwillingness to feed the penitent to secular justice.  Secular justice is more aligned to the protection of the innocent without regard to the salvation of the penitent.  The Church, on the other hand, deals with both and sequesters the priest as he walks the path of repentance and rehabilitation for the salvation of his soul.  Unfortunately, people do not see this.  They simply see that their brand of justice was not served - a lot of which stems from the desire of vengeance than anything else.

 

Pope Francis' address to Congress includes a plea to never lose hope for repentance by eradicating the finality of the death penalty.

Edited by anatess

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm going to be more direct, because I'm truly uncertain of what answers I'll get. Anyone can chime in, btw.

 

If a registered child sex offender comes to most churches these days, s/he will be expected to report their status to a leader. Most churches, mine included, will likely assign someone (we might use a deacon) to keep an eye on the individual.  S/he will be told where they can and cannot go, and it will be understood that they should never be in a room with a child, unless another adult is there.  I am told that these individuals are very thankful for the opportunity to worship in community, and that they are most willing to follow the protocols.

 

So...is this "profiling?"  Is this failing to let bygones be bygones.  Is this restricting the ability of some to become more like God? Or is this the strong members coming along side those who are weaker, to offer support?  Are we hindering, or are we moving the stumbling blocks out of the way, with this approach?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this