Growth 2 min read

Forgiving Is Not Forgetting

Moving on does not require forgetting.

We have always heard the phrase "forgive and forget." However, forgetting does not allow us to heal from experience emotional pain.

Once we’ve experienced pain caused by someone we care about, letting go suddenly becomes harder to do. Soon enough, we can find ourselves holding on to resentment for far too long.

Forgiveness is an important step in the healing process. However, being able to forgive someone for their transgression does not require you forget what transpired. In fact, forgetting is a disservice to forgiving.

When we choose to “forgive AND forget” we are not taking advantage of the learning opportunities that arise from negative situations.

If we don’t heed these lessons we are bound to repeat the same mistakes. Forgetting is an unrealistic goal to have. Hope College Associate Professor, Dr. Charlotte Van Oyen Witvliet says, "Forgiveness does not involve a literal forgetting. Forgiveness involves remembering graciously."

Choosing to forgive enables us to look at the circumstances objectively. This way we will be able to look back on the painful events without bitterness, anger, or resentment.  

Forgetting is not a prerequisite to forgiveness. That is unnecessary! It is forgiveness, however, that permits us to move forward peacefully despite acknowledging the pain we suffered in the past. To simply forget the things or people who hurt us can setup an even more disappointing future. We have to look back and learn from them. Otherwise, how can we grow as human beings if we act as if those negative experiences never happened?

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