What do you mean, “Forgive and Forget”?

My friend, not long ago, was whining about some slight that she was still churning over, when I tossed off the oft-used, but ill-considered phrase: “Oh, forgive and forget.” She stopped in her tracks, looked me squarely in the eyes and said, “I will never forget, and I have no idea what forgiveness means.”

Hmmmm.  I had to think about that. This happened several years ago, and I’m still thinking about it. Of course we don’t forget. And what is forgiveness, anyway? I have an idea these days about what mercy is, but forgiveness has eluded me.

Well, the other day I happened upon an interesting article on forgiveness, and the author said that forgiveness was simply allowing another person their path.

That was kind of a stunner to me, and I’m not sure I’ve finished assimilating that simple bit of wisdom.

We all have our paths. Some wind around in a convoluted manner, some take us through very dark places, some have us living the glamorous high life and some appear to be cut short before they’ve really begun. It is my personal opinion, belief and faith, that we all have the same destination, eventually, but it’s going to take us all a long time to get there, not just the 80 or so years we have in this life on this planet. But my path to that destination is my path and your path is your path, and if you do something that offends me, well, that’s your path, to be mildly offensive now and then. I certainly spent enough time being offensive to people before I decided not to do that any more. That’s a part of my journey.

I’m not finished considering all the ramifications of this simple raindrop of wisdom. A theological question I’ve wrestled with for years now, was answered in a simple four-word sentence: “Allow them their path.”

Could it really be that simple? Are all the things we wrestle with that simple?

Probably. We’re the ones who make our lives difficult.


Filed under Beauty, Goodness, regrets, relationships, Resentment, Social Consciousness, Spirituality, Truth

4 responses to “What do you mean, “Forgive and Forget”?

  1. WONDERFUL. Thanks for the great start to a Monday morning.

  2. capncrusty

    Those of us who have “been through The Program”, or are just naturally inclined towards brutal honesty, should eventually come to realize that we’re all human, which means we’re all very, very flawed–and just to be clear, by “we” I do indeed include my own illustrious self. We tend to forgive ourselves for quite a bit, simply because it’s necessary to our survival; it’s one thing to see our own faults, quite another to beat ourselves up or doom ourselves to oblivion because of them. So hopefully, after identifying these shortcomings, we will work to change, reduce or even eliminate them, thus improving ourselves and, to some small degree, the human world.

    In short, we give ourselves chance after chance to do better; so doesn’t simple logic, as well as fairness, dictate that we extend the same courtesy to others?

    As for forgetting–not a good idea, at least not absolutely. To forget a failing entirely is to invite repetition. Yet conversely, harping at others’, or even at ourselves, only tends to erect barriers to change, for we are programmed genetically to fight or flee. To stay and SOLVE a problem, however, takes work and courage. Yet in the long run, it’s the best method for success.

    Forgive? Absolutely, but only as long as those being forgiven are make an honest attempt at betterment. Forget? Never…but temper memory with understanding and compassion. Because from another perspective, that other jerk is you.

  3. capncrusty

    Contrary to what I said above, I’m not likely to forgive Obama soon for this latest kowtow to the Military Industrial Complex, nor forget what he has done, at least not on the grander scale of global politics. It’s one thing to be able to sit down with a guy and discuss how impolite and thoughtless it is to keep taking up two parking places, yet entirely something else to sit back while a world leader, shielded from the pleas of humanity by oceans, armed guards and three more years of office, plays chess with people’s lives.

    Buckling on more armor and taking up another sword is not the way to attain peace, Mr President; indeed, it would be funny if the consequences weren’t so horrific. War is and should be ABSOLUTELY the last method to achieve one’s goals. Nor is “he started it” an excuse; that doesn’t work on the playground, and it doesn’t work on the pan-human stage.

    I hoped I’d never have to say this, but sadly, I was still pretty sure I would, again and again: Stop the war!

    We never learn.

  4. MECO

    Forgiveness like all things in life takes practice. The more you “allow them their own path” the more your path is illuminated and worn. We are beings of habit. We wrap ourselves in ritual like being most comfortable in those old slippers with the chipped mug of hot whatever in our hands at the same time each morning. Forgiveness is a choice made possible by using it.

    P.S. completely off subject–have these snowflakes always been falling? If so I really need to pay more attention!

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