Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Forgive and Forget, or Forgive and Remember?

The old saying, forgive and forget, has been around a long time.

Is that a good thing? Is that the emotionally healthy thing to do?

I was thinking about this the other day, and I decided that forgive and remember is a better philosophy to live by. Why is that?

In a nutshell: if you forgive and forget, you might not learn all that could be learned from the situation.

But, if you forgive and remember, which is much harder, think of all you can learn.

If I encounter a hurtful situation and forgive the offender but remember, maybe I could learn:
• How not to be an offender in a similar situation
• Figure out why I was hurt by the offense and use it for growth
• Learn how to respond better when being hurt

These thoughts remind of a book I read years ago entitled Don't Waste Your Sorrows. I think that capsules what my thoughts are around this subject.

As I continue my journey through life, I want to forgive and remember. That's a very hard balancing act like walking a high wire. If I start leaning too heavily on the remembering side, I could fall into bitterness. If I start leaning too far on the forgiving side without remembering, I could fall into being gullible and deceived.

Isn't life a wonderful adventure? Learning and growing that keeps going, kind of like the pink bunny.


Anonymous said...

I'm really glad you wrote about this, Mary. "Forgive and forget" is one of those pseudo-biblical "laws," along with "God helps those who help themselves," "Cleanliness is next to godliness," and several others I can't think of at the moment.

God is the only one in Scripture described as forgiving and forgetting. Many times we find the command to forgive, but never are we told we must forget the wrongs done by those whom we forgive.

To forget when we forgive would be to circumvent the healthy role of consequences. When we do wrong, there are consequences, and it does us no favors when someone protects us from those consequences. We learn from them.

Sad to say, many Christians take people to task if they show any evidence that they haven't forgotten wrongs done to them. The church has largely bought into that extrabiblical fake commandment to "forgive and forget." If we're going to judge someone's sincerity of forgiveness, we'd better be certain that the criteria we use really are biblical.

I always enjoy your blog entries. I like the way you think! Thanks for making me do the same.

--Another Mary (in Texas)

Mary Burleson said...

Mary in TX,
First, I like your name! It's a good, old, traditional name that you don't hear that much any more.

And thanks for your comments. I appreciate so much those who stop by and often write comments better than the original post. Such was yours.

I like your thinking too.

Aussie John said...


What good thoughts!

Lessons learned and grace demonstrated cannot exist without remembering!

Stephanie said...

Well, I am quite late catching up on your blog! I always enjoy reading them and soaking in your provoking wisdom.
I just wanted to say for me I like the forgive and remember as well.
First off we have reason to follow the example of Jesus in forgiving, yet it is very important to remember the price He paid to set that example for us.
Second, just recently I have come full circle to a place of now know ing the good the Lord has brought out of a situation that happened many years ago. I chose to forgive but I remembered because I wanted to watch and see what it was the Lord had in mind turning the situation for good in my life. He showed me just that this past year! If we dont remember we just might miss the rest of the story!
Just speaking for myself and my situation...but agreeing wholeheartily with your point!