Forgive and Forget?
The title for this short article many would say is a pipe dream. What I mean to say is, most people believe it is next to impossible to truly forgive and truly forget being wronged by others. Many of us are still carrying around the pain of yesterday, yesteryear, and most still hold on to the pain of things that happened decades ago.
I, myself, for years carried around the pain caused by those who wronged me in childhood, from the school yard bullies, to friends who betrayed me, loved ones who abused me, and more. The result of this created in me such an insecurity that even today, sometimes, if I am betrayed, mocked, or hurt by those I love in any way, and it is a relationship that is no longer a vital to my every day life, family, or growth, I may find myself sometimes quietly forgiving those who wronged me while also escorting myself to the door.
You see, forgiveness does not mean you must continue to allow people to wrong you. Forgiveness means, you are ready to let the pain go and move on. Forgiveness means instead of seeking revenge, you seek peace. Forgiveness means, instead of hurting those who hurt you, you offer the opportunity to be whole again. Forgiveness means you no longer bring up the past, you let it go because it no longer exists.
The word “Forgive” has two definitions that people must clearly understand. 1) To cancel a debt = this means if someone has wronged you, you don’t need retribution, you don’t need recompense, you simply let it go and it’s all good. 2) stop feeling angry or resentful toward someone for (an offense, flaw, or mistake)
If truth be told, and we are honest with ourselves, we will see how rare it is to find someone who actually forgives.
It is typical to find this ignorant behavior in marriages today. This is why we also find more than half of every marriage ending in divorce. When a fight begins, instead of simply forgiving each other and making it right, most married couples take up arms. Sadly, most couples choose to make war instead of love.
When husband or wife feel wronged, instead of talking it out and forgiving each other their petty complaints, today we find these small trivial disagreements exploding into name calling, character assassination, the silent treatment, and more. We find those who are supposed to love each other, so polluted by their years of never learning the great lesson of forgiveness, wanting to hurt their husband or wife. This ignorant behavior is not just found in marriages today, although most prevalent, we also find this type of behavior in almost every family, between friends, colleagues, neighbors and more.
This my friends cannot stand.
I wrote a poem years ago, about a son returning home to his father. His friends hurt him and he was angry, so angry in fact that he wished they were dead. The father said he wanted to show his son something. The father took the boy outside and dared him to hold a ten pound weight as long as he could, he challenged his son stating that he bet the boy couldn’t do it for long. And just like most immature children the angry son wanting to prove his father wrong struggled to hold that weight. The boy’s arms began to throb with pain, tears fell from his eyes, until finally the boy let the weight go. – The father patted him on the head and said, “You see son, it always feels better to let things go.” – That was the moral of this poem.
Our anger, our resentment toward others is as a weight upon our heart. As long as we hold onto bitterness toward anyone we cannot know peace in our own life. Until we forgive, we are doomed to replay, and re-live, that pain over and over and over again.
This is explained in scripture, but we have misunderstood it for years.
Matthew 6: 14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
This doesn’t mean, if you forgive people who wrong you, that the things you have done wrong in your life will be forgiven by some far away distant God… No! It means if you let another’s trespass go, you won’t be tormented by the pain of holding onto it.
Jesus on the cross, said, “Forgive them, they know not what they do!” This is a great lesson for us. Because when we understand that people only wrong us because of their own ignorance, and because of what is going on with them, we understand that we don’t have to take their actions personally.
We can rise above the pain other’s cause us, as a plane rises above terrible storm clouds to find a quiet and peaceful journey.
Usually, when people snap at us, it has nothing to do with us to begin with. Yet, if we are insecure and know no better we allow another’s actions to get under our skin and soon we find ourselves lashing out in return. And I promise you, no good comes from “getting even”, or “showing them how wrong they are”.
Life is as a garden, whatever we sow into the world we reap in return. There is a lesson in that, because that means that when people do things that could hurt us, most likely it is a judgment upon us for something else to begin with…. Meaning, everything that happens to us in life is happening for our growth. Each day we are given opportunities to create peace, harmony, and joy, instead of re-creating the same old, same old.
And so, if we looked at others who wrong us, as we would a young child who really knows no better, we would be able to shake it off, smile, and show them the love it takes to gently guide them back to their right mind.
If Jesus believed what they said about him, it would have really hurt him. However, knowing it wasn’t about him, it was about them, he was able to endure the cross.
That being said, forgiveness does not mean that you must continue to put yourself in harms way. If those who have wronged you do not repent of what they have done, if they don’t consider your feelings, right or wrong, and want to justify their behavior as righteous and instead would rather let a relationship fall apart than make it better, than one is not obliged to continue on.
When the prodigal left his Father’s house, it most certainly broke his Father’s heart. He knew his son was making a big mistake, and he knew that it would eventually catch up to him. Yet, his father did not follow after his son, he did not make attempts to prompt his return, he simply loved his son and waited every moment of every day with open arms for his return home.
This, this my friends is how we must wait for those who left us, hurt us, betrayed us, mocked us, abused us, and more. We must “forgive them, for they know not what they do,” we must allow them to choose their path, and we must be ready with open arms for their return.
There must NEVER be an end to our forgiveness. Because we are all one.
Matthew 18: 21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.
The reason there must NEVER be an end to your forgiveness is because, you may experience the same betrayal, hurt, and trespass from those you have previously forgiven. If you want to have joy and peace in your life, then there can NEVER be an end to your forgiveness. You must be ready each and every day to LET IT GO… Because YOU DESERVE TO BE HAPPY!
You often hear people who are angry saying, “those jerks don’t deserve my forgiveness!”, and so they hold unto their bitterness and anger and the result is they are never free from the feeling of being wronged, betrayed, or worse. What most people don’t understand is forgiveness is not for the offender it is for those who are offended…. forgiveness releases us and allows us to be free!
This is why scripture commands that all anger, resentment and bitterness is put away.
Ephesians 4:31 – 31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you…
You CANNOT have a truly peaceful life if you are at odds with another. It is IMPOSSIBLE to truly enjoy your your day, much less your life, if there is someone out there that YOU consider an enemy.
A person cannot be hot and cold at the same time. You cannot be angry and happy at the same time… If you have bitterness and resentment in your heart true joy cannot be found.
Job 21:25 – And another dieth in the bitterness of his soul, and never eateth with pleasure.
It really should not be a secret that FORGIVENESS is the key to a peaceful life… Yet, today very few would agree with the “offer the other cheek” philosophy.
For those who aren’t familiar… Jesus taught if someone offends you, or strikes you, to allow it, he went so far as to say, “offer the other cheek,” – the scripture in many places command us to live at peace with all men, to never repay anger with anger, and to never avenge ourselves…
As long as we are at war with others… we are at war within…. This is why we MUST BE AT PEACE with others… because it is only when we are at peace with others that we have peace ourselves… and PEACE IS A CHOICE PEOPLE! We can choose NOT to repay evil for evil, we can choose to overcome evil with good.
Romans 12:17-19 17 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. 18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.