What Not to Forget after We Forgive
What exactly are we supposed to forget after we forgive? The offender may be our former boss. The offense may be the dishonorable review which caused our dismissal. We will probably remember the offender and the offense while searching for a new job; but forgiveness numbs our anger and our hurt.
In any scenario, forgiveness disables the memory of the past to incite negative emotions in us.
While we may struggle to prevent the anger and hurt from surfacing after the forgiveness, we don’t want to forget the positive effects of forgiveness which can empower us to become stronger and wiser. Therefore, we intentionally select new healing thoughts to replace the destructive ones which come with the old memory.
"We don't want to forget the positive effects of forgiveness."
This is how it works in three compact steps:
- We sift through the offense (betrayal, disappointment, humiliation et cetera), while accepting the reality that it happened.
- We forgive ourselves for our contribution to the dilemma and we forgive the offender. (Forgiveness may not be immediate, but the sooner, the better).
- We decide that instead of harboring the old hurt when the memory surfaces, we will choose to focus on picker-upper facts like the following six.
(1) The Good Side
There is a good side to every situation - David Joseph Schwartz
Do not forget that the good side may be beyond our present vision. We may have to search for it, but be convinced that it exists.
There is a story about a Canaanite young man named Joseph, who was sold to Egyptian merchants by his jealous brothers. He forgave his offenders and in his search for the good side, his honesty and productivity made him become the second most powerful man in Egypt, next to the Pharaoh.
Years passed. Famine struck Canaan, and Joseph’s brothers journeyed to Egypt to buy food, Joseph arranged for them to obtain as much as they wanted, and was happy to let them know, “You meant evil against me; but God meant it for good.” Who could have guessed that the good side had benefits for both the offended and the offenders?
Eighteenth Century Painting of Joseph and His Brothers
(2) The Lessons Learned
Don't take it as time wasted. Take it as a lesson learned. - Annisah Smith
Do not forget that there are lessons to be learned from adverse circumstances; and that the lessons count toward our education for life.
- Have we learned the consequences of ignoring red flags that were waving at us?
- Have we learned the value of establishing moral limits around every kind of relationship?
- Have we learned not to joke about issues that other people consider serious?
These are the kinds of lessons to list under our experience résumé. They come in handy when similar situations threaten our stability on future jobs and in future relationships. Lessons learned enable us to thank offenders for helping us to grow.
(3) The Truth about Us
If evil be spoken of you and it be true, correct yourself; if it be a lie, laugh at it. - Epictetus
What is Our Posture When We Forgive?
Do not forget that one day it will be our turn to seek forgiveness. Therefore, it is important to not only say that we forgive; but also to demonstrate the spirit of forgiveness.
Do we walk away haughtily after we forgive? Or, do we seem humble and reflective, recognizing that we also have flaws?
When we forgive the faults of others, it is not because we are perfect, but because, among other things, we believe that offering forgiveness will result in it being offered to us. We have been guilty of lying, cheating, gossiping, ridiculing and other character flaws. When we accept our guilt, we cannot help but show kindness and understanding to other guilty people.
Forgiveness is a way of saying “I understand because I can relate to your imperfection." We also hope that other people will be as understanding when they see our short comings.
(4) The Reason We Forgive
Forgive all who have offended you, not for them, but for yourself. - Harriet Nelson
Do not forget that we get the greater benefit when we forgive our offenders. Nothing is more precious than peace of mind. Forgiveness removes obstacles like resentment and hate which threaten the flow of positive energy through our minds and bodies. It turns offenders and offenses into stepping stones on our way to maturity and wisdom.
Forgiveness gives us the control. We have the freedom to flip through the channels which remind us of our hurt, and settle at those which show power emerging from pain. We are free to watch and try strengthening exercises and to laugh out loud when we see our progress. We are free to focus on whatever helps us heal.
Do not forget that we have the power; we do not have to be victims.
(5) A Second Chance
Sometimes goodbye is a second chance. - Shinedown
Don’t forget that forgiveness offers the opportunity for a second chance. Sometimes, in the calm that comes with forgiveness, both the offender and the offended share the responsibility for the offense and agree to begin again. When that happens, forgiveness keeps the mistakes of the past from interfering with the possibilities of the future.
At other times, one or both of individuals may choose to say goodbye. We sense a brighter future with different people on a different path. The separation may hurt and we may fret with ourselves because we did not prevent it; but the sooner we accept it, the sooner the good side comes into view. We are free to start over as many times as we desire.
(6) The Choice to Move On
When you forgive, you in no way change the past - but you sure do change the future. - Bernard Meltzer
Moving on after Forgiveness
Do not forget that after forgiveness—letting go of the old hurt, and refusing to blame ourselves and anyone else—healing and renewal become our priority. We move on.
In 1995, Azim Khamisa lost his twenty-year old son to a bullet from fourteen-year old Tony Hicks. Five years later, Khamisa met his son’s killer. In his CBS interview, the father said that he expected to see a killer in Hicks, but instead he saw a soul very much like his own. Khamisa has employed Ples Felix, Tony’s grandfather to work at the foundation he started in the name of his son. He also corresponds with Tony Hicks and has become a surrogate father who promises to be there when the prisoner is paroled in 2027.
Khamisa’s philosophy is that having rescued Tony Hicks with his love, he has given Tony the tools to rescue many others. What an amazing result of forgiveness and moving on!
© 2016 Dora Isaac Weithers
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