Mending a Soul: Forgive and Forget?
Every one of us have been in one way or another hurt by other people. The experience could be very devastating and heart breaking most especially if the ones who caused us pain are the people we hold most dear in our hearts. Once damage is done, forgiveness is the most difficult thing to do and forgetting is somewhat as elusive as literally flying without wings.
I was browsing through a social networking site one day and I saw this post from a good friend of mine, “I can still remember a teacher in high school once told us that forgiving without forgetting gives no essence to forgiveness…” Does it mean that if we can’t forget we can never forgive?
The old adage that says, “Forgive and forget…” is easier said than done. The mere fact of forgiving who caused one to feel so bad or even cause a very long time pain that may have even altered one’s life is too difficult to do. It would require so much courage to move mountains and do such an act. Forgetting on the other hand is way too far more difficult than to forgive. How could one forget that once in his life, someone made him cry every night for long years? Who made him lose his self worth, altered his life or even lose his wonderful future?
I have forgiven YOU... but YOU still make me cry!...
Let me share another quote from one of my favorite television series. It goes something like this:
“After careful consideration and many sleepless nights, here's what I've decided. We move on, we move out, we move away from our families and form our own. But the basic insecurities, the basic fears and all those old wounds just grow up with us. And just when we think life and circumstance have forced us truly to become an adult, your mother says something like that. Or worse, something like that. We get bigger, we get taller, we get older. But, for the most part, we're still a bunch of kids, running around the playground, trying desperately to fit in.” – (Meredith Grey, “Grey’s Anatomy”)
It is a reality that deep wounds in the past or even in our childhood linger in our hearts. As we take the journey of life, we try and try hard to forgive. We may even say and make ourselves believe that we have really forgiven all the ones who have hurt us. But each time we remember, we still burst into tears and then again try to find solace in our own little world called “secret closet of my own hurts.” It is sad and even more difficult to admit, but the forgiveness we make ourselves believe in this aspect is just too superficial and this is the very reason why the hurt we once knew are just deep within our deepest seat of emotions still lurking around and instantly coming out each time we remember.
How does one FORGIVE?
Although most people would not believe, forgetting is NOT a way to forgiveness. Forgetting may just cause one to give superficial pardoning but not real forgiveness.
Good friends may even tell us every time someone had caused us pain to just forget because the one who caused us pain does not deserve our time and effort. Our friends may really mean well when they tell us such a thing but it does not cure the pain we feel inside. Sometimes, we even feel that this pain which we may even carry to the last days of our life are just treated as trivial if we keep on believing that such an act of forgetting is the way to forgiveness. While deep down inside, we are suffering much more than anyone can imagine.
This happens every now and then because it is human nature that the more we try to forget, the more we remember. So, what then can we do?
“The fact is that very often the harmful effects of past injuries stay with us whether or not we consciously remember…” (Dr. David Scoop and Dr. James Masteller, “Forgiving Our Parents Forgiving Ourselves”)
Forgetting should be the last resort in the process of forgiveness. The hurtful acts should be remembered in a healing way* for only then can we give true forgiveness to the one who caused us pain and to our own selves. Trying hard to “forget” just causes us to suppress ourselves from remembering yet we store them in our subconscious mind. We deceive our very self and we can never be free from the pains in the past. Whenever we try to forget painful memories, we are basically in denial.
Remember in a HEALING WAY…
Sometimes we focus too much on the things that hurt us, making us miss the goodness and the wonderful blessings we receive each moment that we spend our journey with life- especially when we are hurt and dealing with so much emotional pain. Don't spend much time crying over spilled milk, smile and realize that the glass is not broken. Remember the good that the hurtful act has caused you; did it make you more mature… more responsible or other positive things that may have happened because of the harm that has been done? Has the pain made you stronger? Do not focus on how much pain you felt but keep in mind how bad things have strengthened you. Remember such hurtful memories in a different perspective and focus on the positive that it has brought into your life. Although we are aware or not, a painful past and wrongdoings of others towards us are the reasons why we get more inspired to be better… to reach for our dreams and somehow show them that we are tougher than the tough things they brought into our life.
Keep in mind that remembering in this aspect is not doing it with bitterness but with thoughtful mind to learn from what once was and with the knowledge that one could never be as sturdy as he is right now if not for what has hurt him in the past. What we are today are products of yesterdays, and there is no doubt that whether we admit it or not we are blessed because after all, we managed to live to the present.
Should you forgive....
Keeping hatred is like bringing baggage of rocks in one's journey to life...
WHEN do I forgive?
“The process of forgiveness always begins with a decision. It is an act of the will, something we choose to do because we know it is healthy and right, even though we may not “feel like it” at the moment.” (Dr. David Scoop and Dr. James Masteller, “Forgiving Our Parents Forgiving Ourselves”)
Deciding to forgive is the first step to giving forgiveness. And in doing so, one should learn the reasons why he should decide to forgive, why it is the right thing to do and why is it healthy.
As much as we have to forgive others, we should not forget to forgive ourselves too. Sometimes, we add up to the hurts we feel because we may blame ourselves for not having the courage or the chance to do to protect it. Decide to forgive your own shortcomings and you’ll find it easier to forgive others.
Deciding to forgive is the right thing to do because, no one is perfect. And as much as others need to be forgiven, we do the same. If we keep burning bridges just because we don’t forgive, we will soon find no bridge to burn… we can never live alone. Remember the old adage, “No man is an island.”
One should decide to forgive because it does not only ease the burden of his oppressor, but his own burden as well. When one decides to forgive, he gets rid of his own hurtful feelings. It gives him peace of mind; he could feel his life lighten and he does not have to worry on making ways and reasons not to meet someone who has hurt him during an unexpected time- maybe when he goes to the mall or even when he walks down the street.
It is healthy to forgive because it helps preserve one’s sanity. It rids one off his stresses and therefore decreases the risk for him to acquire stress related diseases and illnesses someday.
If one never learns to forgive, he is just giving the one who caused him pain a chance to hurt him again and again for as long as hatred is burning in his heart. His oppressor can make him feel bad and cry rivers of tears without even trying hard.
Forgive once you have decided to forgive. Learn each day of your life to forget the hurt, but remember the act that has hurt you and the one who has done it to you in a healing way. You will someday realize that the most hurtful events in your life are really your own bridges of growth. God is pleased with the ones who know how to forgive… and He gives enough courage to those who try hard to forget the hurts of wrongdoings done to them but never forgetting the lessons learned.
As we take the journey of life, we can never be free of hurts and pains… but as long as God is beside us, we can learn to FORGIVE, and REMEMBER IN A HEALING WAY.
Copyright by DjBryle Works, 2010 (ALL RIGHTS RESERVED AND AUTHORIZED BY LAW)
*Dr. David Scoop and Dr. James Masteller, “Forgiving Our Parents Forgiving Ourselves”