Where is the dividing line between forgive and forget?
Show notes and links:
How to Forgive But Not Forget (Huffington Post)
Forgive and Forget: Healing the Hurts We Don’t Deserve (Amazon)
Full episode text
Supposedly, “forgive and forget” is the ultimate of reconciliation – that thing you’re supposed to strive for after conflict.
I call BS. For a variety of reasons, but mostly because while forgiveness is extraordinarily powerful, forgetting is something very different. In fact, there’s an entire field of “forgiveness research” that features discussion of the process of and impacts of forgiveness.
In the 2007 book Forgive and Forget, author Lewis Smedes outlines how powerful the choice to not forget something could, in fact, be.
“Forgiving does not erase the bitter past. A healed memory is not a deleted memory. Instead, forgiving what we cannot forget creates a new way to remember. We change the memory of our past into a hope for our future.”
This is a point author Laura Lendgraf highlights at the end of a powerful essay about forgiveness when she writes:
“Remembering, clarified by forgiveness, forges all that you encountered into the unique being that is you. Remembering gives you courage, voice. Remembering bequeaths compassion, empathy and the will to see to it that others don’t suffer as you did.”
Forgiveness is powerful but so is forgetting. Doing both, however, may in fact benefit neither.