No one comes to adulthood without wounds. Some of these wounds are inflicted by others. Some are self-inflicted. Every human being has hurts and sins. Therefore, we all need to forgive and to experience being forgiven. Today I want to talk about what forgiveness is and is not.
There is a lot of misinformation and misunderstanding about forgiveness. A common myth is that we are to forgive and do what? Forget. Have you had any success with literally forgetting a trauma or wound inflicted by another person?
When we experience a wrong done to us, we have an amazing capacity to remember because the experience is filed away in our memories as a negative emotion. God designed the brain so that we learn from previous experience. When we have a negative experience, we file it in our brain in a place that says, “Don’t do this again.” If we have a positive experience it’s filed in a place which says, “When can we do this again?” Those who are healthy, seek to avoid the bad and repeat the good. The brain acts as a guide as to how to respond to a new experience which is similar to a past experience by calling up either negative or positive responses.
I say all this to indicate that our brains are wired to remember everything and sort everything. Mental ability and age, of course, have an impact on this ability. That is why I write everything down these days. Nevertheless, we cannot literally forget, nor do we need to. In truth, what we need to do is forgive and remember rather than forgive and forget.
Remembering helps us to be safe and know when it’s reasonable to trust and when it isn’t. Remembering will assist us to give an appropriate and measured trust based on prior experience.
As we forgive and remember, we choose to act toward another person who has hurt us in a manner that communicates a measure of grace and acceptance of them as a child of God rather than acting toward them in a harsh, judgmental manner (even when we think they deserve it). We learn to trust the other person to the degree they have proven themselves trustworthy. We call this perceptive trust versus blind trust. Forgiveness entails offering only the measure of perceptive trust on our part that allows us to feel safe with that person.
Forgiveness also involves taking time to grieve the hurt that we have experienced. Forgiveness is not like a light switch which we turn off or on. Forgiveness is a process and this process involved grieving our pain. God understands and allows for time to grieve so that we can forgive another from the heart rather than just with our lips. I will speak more about this in my second blog titled, “Rediscovering the Lost Art of Lament.”
If you wish to read more about forgiveness, I have written an article titled, “Forgive and Remember: The Freeing Power of Forgiveness.” It is available in the Resource tab of my website, https://www.livingh2oministries.com/resources.
Thank you for taking time to read my blog. I hope that you find my reflections uplifting to your Spirit and encouraging to your heart.