YOU’RE NO DOUBT familiar with the phrase “forgive and forget” but I want to encourage you to “forgive and remember.” That is, forgive those who have offended and hurt you, and remember what it felt like to be offended and hurt, so that you don’t reciprocate the hostilities.
Here’s what I’m stewing around in my pea brain that triggered this blog entry. Someone close to me (a family member) refuses to forgive my son for a wrong he committed years ago against another family member.
Here’s a partial list of what the unforgiving party GAINED:
- Avoidance at all family gatherings
- Assurance that the offense won’t occur again
- Lingering memories of the offense and fear that it may have residual effects
Here’s a partial list of what the unforgiving party LOST:
1. The opportunity to know a fantastic young man who has grown through this experience
2. The ability to go in public and to family gatherings unsure if my son will appear
3. The respect from me and my immediate family
4. The “oneness” and peace that comes from living a contented life
If you’re struggling with forgiving and forgetting, just remember: You can Forgive & Remember. You can Forgive and Remember that it hurts to be hurt. And you can Remember that if you Forgive, you won’t have to Remember how to avoid the offender anymore, and you can find out if they have changed or if you have changed, and grown from the experience, and you can have your peace of mind back.
I SOMETIMES STILL TRY TO TAKE MATTERS INTO MY CAPABLE LITTLE HANDS…
AS A dad, I wanna take up my son’s cross and bear it for him. I wanna give the offended party the “what now”; the “low down smack-dabbity dog” and tell them what a waste of time it is to go around avoiding my son. I wanna tell them I had to forgive the TWO separate people on TWO separate occasions that acted out destructively on my son when he was little, which triggered his acting out on another family member. I want to say that if I were paralyzed by that, I could never move on. I want to say my son got legal help and paid his debt to society. I want to say the offended family member had a MUCH LONGER criminal record with many more offenses as an ADULT, not as a juvenile.
But, I prayed to God today about that, and all those facts and that high and mighty list of why my point of view is more justifiable was quietly dismissed by my Creator. I think God figures it won’t do my offended family member any real good, if I blow up with pride and arrogance and self-righteousity. God says to me, He says in his big, deep God voice, “Hey now, little follower of mine, just chill out a bit and let Me do the heart mending.”
So me, here I am, the grieving father of the wonderfully reformed offender of a young man, hoping to impart my wisdom on the Creator of the Universe, chest heaving with indignation, wanting God to take up my cause and restore my son to the family status he once had, and to help this grieving and alienated family member to “snap out of it” and move on, and I just say, “OK, Big Man Upstairs, OK, you got me. I got it. You got this. It’s beyond me to mend people’s hearts. But, thank God, it’s not beyond You.”
In Romans 12:18 Paul said, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” This means it takes two, and all we can do is make sure we’ve done our part. Forgiving one another is something we can do because Jesus first forgave us. People who haven’t experienced the Lord’s forgiveness often have a more difficult time forgiving others.
By sincerely seeking forgiveness, both from the Lord and the other party, you’ve fulfilled your responsibility in the matter. Now it’s time to turn it over to the Lord. Ask Him to forgive your family member, and to soften his or her heart toward Him. Receiving the Lord’s forgiveness might cause your family member to forgive you as well.