Thursday, January 14, 2010

Forgiving and Forgetting

I've been thinking a lot about remembering lately. Going through my history to get things in perspective is often painful, and yet I believe God is leading me to go through all of this again for a purpose. In the midst of this reverie, I've read some blogging on forgetting as a part of forgiveness. Given that I "forgot" a great deal of the abuse only to have it return uninvited, it raises the question, "Is forgetting necessary for forgiveness?" Personally, I'd answer a resounding "No" to that one. But I'm getting ahead of myself. First let's define forgetting. Webster's defines forgetting this way: "1: to lose the remembrance of : be unable to think of or recall; 2. to treat with inattention or disregard; 3. to cease remembering or noticing".

The first definition implies an inability to remember. This is not a choice, but rather something that is brought on without my control. If I can't control it, I don't think I can be required to do it.

The second and third definitions are more inline with one another. "To treat with inattention or disregard" is a choice; something that is within my control. "To cease remembering or noticing" -- I really like this one best. It is obviously a conscious choice and decision. It does not imply that the events are no longer a part of my history or that they never occurred, but rather that I have dealt with them and chosen to put them away.

For many this may be nothing but semantics, but for me it's all about choices and control. I had no choices or control when my abusers were around, but now I do. I have forgiven and I have forgotten. I choose not to dwell on the events of the past, but at the same time I choose to learn from them and incorporate them into the reality of my life and who I am.

For me forgiveness only comes through understanding responsibility. Once I have that one squared away, the forgive and forget becomes a lot easier.


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