"Forgive and Forget...Really?"

The waterfall symbolizes "forgiveness," which is like washing away someone else's sins or forgiving and forgetting someone's wrongdoing.
The waterfall symbolizes "forgiveness," which is like washing away someone else's sins or forgiving and forgetting someone's wrongdoing.

         "Forgive and Forget…Really?"

            Many of us have been taught by our parents and Sunday school teachers to forgive and forget because it is the "right" thing to do.  A friend borrowed your toy, but never returned it or perhaps destroyed it on purpose, a classmate stealing your project idea, a girlfriend/boyfriend cheating on you or perhaps a wife/husband who wants out of a marriage without any "warning" signs.  There are many situations which are beyond our understanding and we ask ourselves, "Why me?" As a result, as humans, it is nearly impossible to forgive and forget.

            We all have heard from someone, "You are the only one who is hurting by not letting things go" or "Forget about it…it's in the past!" Perhaps there is something to this, but how do we do it? How can we forgive someone who have caused us so much trouble in our lives and had the audacity to leave us hanging just because they have moved on and we have not? Is it really possible to forgive and forget? If so, how can we attain this? In my humble opinion, I believe that we are not "assembled" this way.  We are not "divine and holy" that we can just forgive and forget easily.  Also, depending on the personality of the individual, some people might have an easier time to forgive and forget than others.  However, more often than not, it takes a very long time to forgive and forget.  When someone is wronged by a family or a friend and perhaps a misunderstanding occurs, it is not always easy to pick up where it was left off.  I believe that we all go through certain steps before we come into acceptance of forgiving and forgetting, which is similar to a couple undergoing a divorce or a person losing a loved one.   The process or steps to forgiving and forgetting are indicated below:

            1.  Anger-It is normal for people to go through this first step because they are unable to understand what they are experiencing at the moment, whether it is a misunderstanding, a divorce or losing a loved one.

            2. Denial-"How can this happen to me?" or "Maybe if I have been a better mother/father/brother/sister/friend this would have been prevented" or "Maybe if I did not allow my child to go to the mall without adult supervision, he/she would be alive today."  We all come up with excuses blaming ourselves for the situation with ifs, would haves or could haves, which I believe is an essential part of the process in forgiving and forgetting.

            3. Bargaining-"If I do this, it might make me feel better," "If you watch the kids every other weekend, we might be able to come up with an agreeable alimony for the children" or "If you give up drinking, I will give up gambling" or the likes of these are crucial to the process of forgiving someone.

            4. Acceptance-When a person has finally decided to accept the situation as it is or making adjustments in their relationships and trying to work things out with one another.

            But is it possible for us, humans, to really forgive and forget? In my opinion, we can come up to terms of a situation and accepting it the way it is, but we should never forget that it had happened.  With that said, I am not encouraging feelings of resentment at all, which I think can still linger for quite some time, but to focus on the lesson learned.  How did it happen? What are the things that we might do differently if the situation occurred today? Could we have prevented it? Why or why not? By asking these questions, we can come up with probable solutions when faced with a similar dilemma in the future.  Forgive and forget can be a very complex concept to understand, but we should not beat ourselves up for it and realize that we are only humans and are entitled to our own feelings.  By doing so, forgiving and forgetting will be easier to handle and ultimately will be more attainable. 

By: Caroline G. Vestuto                               Copyright 2011

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Comments 21 comments

Phaseus profile image

Phaseus 5 years ago from Bakersfield

Very true. It's difficult to forgive someone whom has wronged you or a friend drastically. But, in my opinion, if it's a juvenile fault then it's slightly easier to accept and come to terms with someone.


tim-tim profile image

tim-tim 5 years ago from Normal, Illinois

I think if not forget, definitely need to forgive and move on. It is true that you are only hurting yourself by not letting it go! Life is too short and not worth holding grudges! Thanks for the great hub.


CarolineVABC profile image

CarolineVABC 5 years ago from Castaic Author

To Phaseus:

I definitely agree with you that it's slightly easier to accept and come to terms with someone. My point here was that sometimes, it is quite normal to forgive but not forget the "lesson learned." Did we encourage the behavior on our part? To me, you can only come to terms with someone when you've put yourself into their shoes by understanding their behavior. I hope I did not make myself more confusing? Thanks for your comment on my hub-I truly value other hubbers' opinions!:-) Have a wonderful and blessed New Year!!!:-)

To tim-tim:

I definitely agree with you that life is too short and not worth holding grudges. Although I was merely stating that I was not encouraging resentment, but to understand the situation, and how we can "prevent" it in the future or at least, recognize a similar situation in the future and be more understanding of it:-).


Timothy Donnelly profile image

Timothy Donnelly 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

I believe that one can forget another's sins and trespasses against them, even if there is one after another and another and another! This forgetting is basically intentional, but in a transcendent manner it is also a holy virtue to possess.

As we each mature and develop our individual personalities, really, it is a blessing to have developed this character trait. We can even see it in children of exceptional spirit; and those who refuse to let a grievance interfere with their relationships with others. This does not make them stupid or foolish - it is a quality to esteem; and one that invariably promotes peace of mind and peace of conscience, rather than a sore challenge that must be conquered before rest is had, or restlessness is stirred.

Admittedly, it is easier said than done, but it is part of the program of complete forgiveness.

One can learn many things and STILL forget the wrongs done to them. One example may be suffering persecution for a faith or chosen way of living; must we circumnavigate the offenders once we learn their methodology? Of course not; we are free to continue in spite of their opposition, and we must allow others the same privilege without getting up in arms about their, perhaps irritating personalities.

Another example may be having your garden repeatedly pilfered; even if we need the harvest for ourselves, would it not be more noble to offer the thieves what they require? Fortunately, if wicked people do things for the sake of destruction, we have laws and lawmen, magistrates and jurors to uphold justice - let's just hope that they have the Spirit of the Law in their meting out punishments to the ones whose records are sometimes unnecessarily indelible.

Humanity in general should be more apt to forget the sins of the past, remembering only the joys of providential living as a true guide for continued success in the present, and a real hope for the future. Let us no more keep the accelerant of a sore memory as a catalyst for intolerance. Truly, Good Tidings will prevail. God Bless.


CarolineVABC profile image

CarolineVABC 5 years ago from Castaic Author

Hello Timothy!

Thank you for your wonderful and most valuable comments on my hub-it is very much appreciated!!!:-) I completely understand where your coming from that forgiveness is a virtue and something that needs to be upheld. Also, I know where you're coming from in regards to forgetting all of the sins of the past. What I was trying to reiterate in my hub, though, was not to hold grudges or resentment, but to remember the lesson learned. Sometimes, people who view themselves as "victims" are the ones who encourage negative behavior or issues (unintentionally) and by remembering the incident, they might be able to prevent such unfortunate events in the future or to the very least, are able to understand the situation, if it rises again.

Although I do agree with you that being able to forgive and forget gives someone a peace of mind and peace of mind and by doing so, we are able to move on and live harmoniously with one another. On the other hand, as I've mentioned earlier, understanding the situation and the behavior of others is also a step to forgiveness and ultimately forgetting the transgression that was committed towards us or vise versa.

Thank you very much for your insights on this, Timothy-it is held in high regards. Peace and blessings!


dashingscorpio profile image

dashingscorpio 5 years ago

By all means feel free to forgive but never forget.

To forget is to lose a valuable lesson!


Woman Of Courage profile image

Woman Of Courage 5 years ago

Caroline, It's not always easy to forgive and forget. Family and friends can hurt us more than anyone. When we forgive, there are certain things which is hard to forget. We need to forgive and let go with the help of the Lord. Thanks for sharing a great hub. Love and Blessings to you Sister!


CarolineVABC profile image

CarolineVABC 5 years ago from Castaic Author

To dashingscorpio:

Thank you for summing it up for us-that is what I've been trying to explain all along! Thank you very much for stopping by and commenting on my hub. I will make sure to do likewise. Blessings to you!

To Woman of Courage:

I definitely agree with you that family and friends are the ones who hurt us most. You are right about "letting go," which we could only do by God's help. Although I believe that letting go of past wounds is not the same thing as losing a valuable lesson as dashingscorpio explained it and I tend to agree with this. I think by remembering a valuable lesson, it will help us to be more forgiving and understanding of other people's mistakes or vice versa. It is my pleasure to share this hub and I'm very appreciative of your most valued comments. Thank you very much for stopping by, Woman of Courage. Love and blessings to you as well!:-)


Candy 5 years ago

What about when a spouse cheats on you for 5 years with the same person. Then when they tell you about it they expect you to be happy, forget about it and move on like nothing ever happened?


CarolineVABC profile image

CarolineVABC 5 years ago from Castaic Author

Hello Candy,

Thank you for visiting my hub. You have a valid point there and that's exactly why I wrote this hub. In this hub, I've tried to explain that it will take some time to "forgive and forget" for someone who has been wronged by others. Of course, it is much easier to try to forget it and move on, but by doing so, we are losing a valuable lesson. We should always forgive but never forget the lesson learned. I do agree with you that it will be unfair for someone to expect a person who was deeply hurt to forget about what happened and just move on. Of course, time heals all wounds, but many times, it does not happen overnight. I believe, as humans, we have the right to our own feelings and need space to analyze everything before we can actually move on. Having said that, I don't mean to dwell on the negative, but rather thinking of why did it happen, what caused it and is there anything that we could've done differently? This way, we can look at things objectively and finally move on. Thank you very much, Candy, for taking your time reading my hub and for your most valuable comments-I appreciate it very much! Have a wonderful and blessed New Year!:-)


richtwf profile image

richtwf 5 years ago

Excellent message. When someone transgresses, it isn't easy to forgive let alone to forget. It takes a lot of effort to forgive and more to forget. When we forget it doesn't mean that we forget totally, it just means that after having forgiven that we are more at peace with ourselves over what happened to us. The event may still be in in the back of our minds but is no longer causing us any ill-feeling.

Thanks for sharing these thoughts and God bless!


CarolineVABC profile image

CarolineVABC 5 years ago from Castaic Author

Thank you for your comment and kind words, richtwf-I appreciate it very much!!! Blessings to you, too!!!


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 5 years ago from North Carolina

Awesome hub. Sound advice. Thanks for sharing.


Lita C. Malicdem profile image

Lita C. Malicdem 5 years ago from Philippines

It's not easy to forgive because it's hard to forget. But I give myself time to heal my wounds especially so if the offender refuse to ask for that forgiveness. Thank you for bringing out this subject that challenges us to do the right thing depending on what perspective we are to take- negative or positive.


CarolineVABC profile image

CarolineVABC 5 years ago from Castaic Author

Hello Lita!

Thank you for stopping by and commenting on my hub. Yes, forgiveness is not an easy thing to do, especially if you're the one who has been wronged while the offender refuses to see what they've done to you. It might take some time to completely heal, but with God's grace, we will be able to forgive anyone who has wronged us, just like God forgave our sins (of course, this is my Christian perspective:-)).

Moreover, even if someone is not a Christian, I believe that by forgiving someone, a burden will be lifted up from their shoulders, and finally, move on with their lives. Thank you for your words of wisdom, Lita! I appreciate it very much. God bless!


Apostle Jack profile image

Apostle Jack 5 years ago from Atlanta Ga

You said it well.You have to forget about the matter in order to forgive.You don't bring it up again.


Alexander Mark profile image

Alexander Mark 5 years ago from beautiful, rainy, green Portland, Oregon

I am in total agreement with you CarolineVABC, we normally can't forget even if we can forgive. I think it is important to remember not for, as you said, resentment, but to gain understanding about how a forgiven offender behaves, and how other people might deal with you. Mostly, I find I cannot erase the event or action from my mind, but when I truly forgive, the feelings of hurt and resentment do go away.

You also touched upon an important connection between forgiveness coming with repentance. I believe that Jesus said to forgive a repentant person, that in both Old Testament and New Testament times, God's command was for us to forgive when the offender repented. Jesus said to forgive 70 times 7 - meaning every single time - when the other person repents!

I think part of the reason people try to push the idea that we should forgive all the time no matter what, is because these days, the majority of people never repent. THAT is what is heartbreaking, not a lack of unjustified forgiveness!

Salvation is free, but we have to repent first, God doesn't let unrepentant sinners into heaven. The shame is not on the one who won't forgive, but on the one who won't ask for forgiveness.

Thank you for a well written hub that sparked this comment, I think you're right on.


CarolineVABC profile image

CarolineVABC 5 years ago from Castaic Author

@ Apostle Jack: Thank you for dropping by and commenting on my hub. I apologize for the late reply. I haven't been on HubPages for awhile. Your comment's greatly appreciated!:-)

@ Alexander Mark: Thank you for taking your time to read and commenting on my hub. You are absolutely right about God commanding us to forgive our offenders 70 x 7! Although sometimes this is easier said than done, but God forgave and died for our sins when we are, surely, undeserving of it. So, I always think, "Who am I not to forgive when Jesus died on the cross for my sins?" I do agree with you, though that once you start forgiving, the feelings of hurt/pain and resentment eventually go away. Well said!:-)

Thank you for sharing your wisdom, and reminding me about Salvation. Also, I think, at the end, the one who does not forgive is the one who hurts the most because the offender has moved on while the victim still hangs on to the feeling of pain/resentment.

I am very honored that you liked my hub. I truly appreciate your kind words. Thank you very much for taking your time to read and commenting on my article. Looking forward to reading some of your hubs in the future. God bless!


Fools 4 years ago

It seems many Christians here are cherry-picking, reading only those parts of the bible which suit their "God is about forgiveness" agenda.

Here are the passages you conveniently skipped over in your selective reading of your holy book:

Revelation 21:8 - But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.

Ephesians 4:26-27 - Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.

Romans 13:4 - For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer.

Proverbs 25:26 - Like a muddied spring or a polluted fountain is a righteous man who gives way before the wicked.

Numbers 31:1-2 - The LORD said to Moses, "Take vengeance on the Midianites for the Israelites. After that, you will be gathered to your people." So Moses said to the people, "Arm some of your men to go to war against the Midianites and to carry out the LORD's vengeance on them. Send into battle a thousand men from each of the tribes of Israel."

Psalm 58:10 - The righteous will be glad when they are avenged, when they bathe their feet in the blood of the wicked.

So you see my friend, God does not love sinners after all.


CarolineVABC profile image

CarolineVABC 4 years ago from Castaic Author

Hello Fools! Thank you for commenting on my hub. I will humbly disagree with you when you said, "God does not love sinners after all." First of all, let me just state that the Holy Bible is open to interpretation, which is why there are so many different versions of it (both paraphrased and word for word). We all have our own interpretation, and this is when we need the holy spirit to intercede for us. Please, let me share some verses with you that explain God is just and merciful:

King James Bible (Cambridge Ed.)

For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.-Matthew 18:11

Luke 19:10

King James Version (KJV)

10 For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

"For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved." —John 3:17(KJV)

John 3:16, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."(KJV)

"But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." —Romans 5:8 (KJV)

P.S.

Please note that I've used KJV (King James Version) on all of the verses, just because it's the version that I was raised on.


Roshadi 21 months ago

- hug anyone? :P @Harinee - If you foigvre the person, it means you are going to continue being the way you are with them, IN SPITE of what they have done to you...When you forget, you don't remember at all, about what they did to you, until that topic comes again..OR..until someone reminds you of it ....and when this happens, you just say..."ohhh..", smile and leave it ..When you aren't able to forget => time and again, you are reminded of what that person did to you...and go through an emotional ride...all over again and again ...until you are out of it ..(for the time being, until the next time u remember it :) )

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