Forgiving Does Not Mean Forgetting

Feb 21, 2023

Forgive and forget!

It sounds good, but is it even possible in some cases? If you cut my hand off, I can forgive you, but every time I need that hand, I will remember I don’t have it. Forgiving, while remembering, is powerful and can only happen by the power of God, as we realize his amazing grace toward us.

Henri Nouwen speaks helpful wisdom: Forgiving does not mean forgetting. When we forgive a person, the memory of the wound might stay with us for a long time, even throughout our lives. Sometimes we carry the memory in our bodies as a visible sign. But forgiveness changes the way we remember. It converts the curse into a blessing.

When we forgive our parents for their divorce, our children for their lack of attention, our friends for their unfaithfulness in crisis, our doctors for their ill advice, we no longer have to experience ourselves as the victims of events we had no control over.

Forgiveness allows us to claim our own power and not let these events destroy us; it enables them to become events that deepen the wisdom of our hearts. Forgiveness indeed heals memories.

Thanks, Henri! I’ve been studying forgiveness (again) for the last few weeks. I still have so much to learn, but I do know this: what seems impossible is possible by the power of God. I’ve seen it, and I’ve experienced it.