Why You Shouldn’t Forgive And Forget
When I was growing up, I heard “You must forgive and forget, in order to prove that you are a good Christian” MANY times.
Anyone who’s even marginally honest, knows that being able to forgive and forget is not even remotely possible.
Because unless you’ve got dementia or amnesia of some sort, you don’t forget.
Dementia is age-induced in some people. And amnesia can be as a result of many things – including an accident that wipes out the relevant portion of your brain.
As unsafe the world is, the chances of a person having the kind of accident that will wipe out their memory, in their lifetime, is probably slim to none.
So, the result of that kind of doctrine of you must forgive and forget was that I lived in guilt – cos I was ‘sinning’ as I did not forget.
Another consequence was that I kept putting myself in damaging situations with destructive individuals, as that would ‘prove that I had truly forgiven’. Afterall, if you have truly forgiven, you would forget, right?
I look back now and it absolutely blows my mind to remember the sorts of situations I put myself in or stayed in, because I was lazy and gullible.
Too lazy to be honest with myself.
So gullible that because I wasn’t reading for myself and applying my own brain, I believed a cultural lie designed to destroy me while making me seem virtuous.
I put myself under pressure to live out something that I knew wasn’t true (you know yourself, so you KNOW you can’t physically forget) because I thought “Everyone else can and does manage to forgive and forget”.
I carried guilt of not being able to forget as I figured something had to be wrong with me. Else why couldn’t I just forgive and forget like others?
I’d lie that I was OK about stuff that I definitely wasn’t OK with, and get hurt over and over again – often by the same people, in the same way, cos I kept them in my life.
If I step on your toes once, on my way out, it might be an ACCIDENT.
If I do it twice, that is a HABIT.
If I do it thrice, that is MY CHARACTER.
And you are a fool for continuing to leave your foot there – because you’re trying to prove how nice a person you are.
Because you’re trying to please people.
Because that’s what it’s really about, isn’t it? I mean, YOU are not pleased – so it’s about the way that you believe people will perceive you. What they will say.
Nope, you’re not trying to please God.
Cos I know that you know no self-respecting deity isn’t pleased when His children are struggling with pain, bitterness and unforgiveness – especially when it’s on a continuous basis, because of their (explicit or implicit) choices.
So, it really is about what ‘people will say’. That’s what you’re really living for. And we all know how important perception is, right?
Forgiving doesn’t mean restoration of initial relationship.
Regardless of what your pastor/reverend/parents told you, forgiving and restoration of a relationship are two things that have absolutely nothing to do with each other.
If you caught someone stealing petty cash from your office, would you promote them to Chief Financial Officer of a conglomerate, to prove how much of a committed follower of Jesus Christ, you are?
The same Jesus Christ that you say died only once?
Would you give your child to a paedophile to babysit because you want to prove how well you can forgive and forget?
I doubt that there is a normal human being who would answer “Yes” to any of the above questions.
For me personally, forgiveness means that I learn my lesson and move on (especially from the desire for revenge).
It does not mean that I sweep everything under the carpet, pretend it’s not there – just so that I can get hurt all over again.
Moving on can mean one of two things – I can move on with you, or without you. Neither proves anything. And I shouldn’t have to.
It is not the place of the person demanding (a warped version of) forgiveness to insist on anything.
Forgiveness is not something that you should feel compelled to prove. It is not about the person who requires forgiveness.
It is about you.
Your mental health.
Your physical well-being.
And your ability to draw boundaries.
One of the most important relationships you can have, is the one with yourself. So, it’s not one to take lightly or to sacrifice because of your relationship with someone else.
Your relationship with yourself should be one where you can honestly answer,
“Is my relationship with someone else, helpful or toxic?
“Is it causing me more aggro than my heart can handle?”
Because let’s face it when certain people do things, it does affect you.
If they do it enough times and you haven’t dealt with it, the chances of your heart giving out are a lot higher.
That’s why even some young people who have no history of cardiac problems, just slump or have heart attacks. It is not always “the devil that is afraid of their bright future”. It may just be a cumulative result that was avoidable.
Forgiving means freeing yourself from bitterness or from the desire for revenge.
Which is very different from wanting to see justice done. You can forgive and still let the law take its course.
Because forgiveness can also mean freeing yourself from the person who think hurting you and getting away with it – even constantly – is their ‘divine right’.
If you’re a woman in Law or Media trying to figure out how to recognise people, things and situations for what they really are – as opposed to what your ego or emotion would prefer – ask for my help here.