A common (and mistaken) approach to forgiveness is to “forgive and forget.” This is problematic for a number of reasons1, the most fundamental being that real, healing forgiveness requires that we remember. And embedded in this truth is one of the reasons that I believe God calls Christians to forgive.
We cannot truly forgive (in the way that brings us peace) without choosing to remember our pain. It is the process of facing and working through our pain that brings restoration and peace to our heart (and opens the door to the possibility of reconciliation with the other party). The alternative is to avoid our pain (in any number of ways), and to increasingly become stuck in bitterness, resentment and anger. The only way to become free of such things is to do the hard work of forgiveness: facing and grieving our pain, and in so doing finding our way to peace. I think that God calls Christians to forgive, not because he minimizes our pain, but rather because he knows our tendency to minimize our pain. And that we need him to nudge us towards forgiveness so that we can learn to honor and grieve our pain as much as he does, and in so doing start to learn to value ourselves more like he values us. And therein we begin to find peace and rest.
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- one of which being the fact that we can’t actually forget in the way that we try to force ourselves to ↩
Working Through Grief and Forgiveness (video)Audience: Christians, General
Forgiveness Is the Foundation for Reconciliation (video)Audience: Christians, General