Dale Partridge posted his thoughts on forgiving and forgetting on his Facebook page.
When we hold on to repentant sin and keep a record of wrongs we nurture bitterness, resentment,and an injured soul. Blot it out, put it away, and set it aside as Christ has done with you.
To truly forgive also requires our labor to forget. Like Christ, He lays our repentant sins on the bottom of the ocean floor not on the back of His mind. (Micah 7:19)
There is a time to forgive and a time not to forgive. The longer I’ve lived and the more stories I’ve listened to, I’ve come to the mindset that we should never force or shame someone into forgiving when an offense has been made. Forgiveness can be hard and complicated and I think it’s up to each individual to determine if forgiveness is required and when to offer forgiveness.
While forgiving can be beneficial to us and may come when the time is right, should we really expect to forget offenses? Our brains aren’t made to forget; they’re made to retain memories. I’ve often wondered why Christian leaders express a simple notion of putting aside or throwing away an offense.
Victims who hear this type of teaching and struggle with the affects of trauma may feel an extra level of shame if they are unable to forget the offense like God forgets the offense.Tweet
A victim of trauma will not be able to forget the offense because of how trauma re-wires the brain. Victims and survivors daily live with the affect of trauma on the brain. There is no forgetting trauma when you are trying to survive each day. How is one supposed to “blot it out,” “put it away,” or “labor to forget?” Victims who hear this type of teaching and struggle with the affects of trauma may feel an extra level of shame if they are unable to forget the offense like God forgets the offense.
There is a valid reason for not forgetting an offense; not forgetting helps you to become more resilient and not be victimized again. I clearly remember sermons I sat through over ten years ago where the pastor was yelling at everyone and boldly challenging that he was appointed by God to be in his role. Why would I want to forget that incident? I have vowed to myself that if I ever hear a sermon like that again to stand up and walk out. Why would I want to place myself in that situation again?
I clearly remember conversations with a narcissistic family member. I remember how I felt when words were turned back on me. And, I clearly remember the day that I set strong boundaries with that person. Remembering words, actions, and feelings in this situation helps me to recognize patterns in people that are similar. These red flags help me to determine how much time and energy I want to invest in people who might harm me.
You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.Micah 7:19
If God really wanted us to forget offenses then why do we have the Bible? Think about it. According to Partridge, God (he says Christ; Micah refers to God) lays sins at the bottom of the ocean.
The Bible is full of stories about people who sinned. If God really forgets all sins then we shouldn’t have these stories in the Bible. They should be hurled into the abyss never to be told or thought of again. These stories are in the Bible to serve as reminders of how God expects his people to live. He says, “Don’t be like that guy,” throughout the whole book.
Some here have been told by Christians and church leaders to forgive and forget those who harm you. I hope you find the freedom to walk away from this over simplified lie. Making the decision to forgive takes time and is hard to work through. Use memories for your good – to gain strength, resilience, and compassion as you interact with others who enter your life. Your healing is unique and individual and cannot be solved with a simple “forgive and forget.”