Forgive and Forget but Don’t be Foolish!

By Karyn L. Beach

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me, up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. (Matthew 18:21-22)

Raised a Baptist, I grew up familiar with that verse and I understood the concept of loving the sinner and not the sin. But, for years I struggled with the whole ‘forgive and forget’ concept. To me, it just seemed … foolish.  

The way I rationalized it, to forgive was one thing but to forget was a dangerous proposition. Didn’t forgetting mean that I was opening myself up to the same mistreatment again? Didn’t forgiving and forgetting mean that I was leaving myself open to be taken advantage of?

I would immediately think of the loving wife (or husband) who repeatedly forgives the unfaithful spouse only to have them continue to stray. Or the person who forgives their abuser only to have the abuser continue the abuse. Forgiving in those circumstances seemed hard enough. But forgetting didn’t seem possible or desirable to me.

Forgive, Forget But Don't be Foolish Forgive …

I love quotes. And one of the best quotes I found about forgiveness says, “Not forgiving someone is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” I get that. Forgiveness is a selfless and selfish act. You are forgiving the other person’s actions but in the process, you are releasing the negative hold that those actions and that person had over you.

Forgiving doesn’t mean that you are condoning the action. Forgiving means that you are letting go of the hurt and the pain. It’s easier to forgive if you can understand the person’s reason for doing what they did but even if you never understand, you can still forgive.

I had a friend who betrayed me. Without getting into unnecessary details, she did something very hurtful and hateful. Her actions pierced me to my soul. I don’t understand why she did what she did. I may never understand; but, I had to let it go. I knew I’d successfully forgiven her when I realized that I no longer felt that tension in my gut when I thought about her or the incidence

Forget …

I used to think forgetting was like washing the chalk off a blackboard. If you wipe that board with soap and water, it looks brand new, like nothing had ever been written. To me, that was the dangerous part. If the slate were scrubbed clean, if I truly did forget, then I would be opening myself up to the same actions all over again.

Then, I realized, forgetting wasn’t necessarily scrubbing the slate completely clean. Forgetting meant not dwelling on the incident or bringing it up over and over again. If you truly want to rebuild a relationship with a person who has broken your trust then you can’t keep bringing up the negative incident. You have to lose the urge to relive it and to punish the other person with it.

I forgave my friend. And I ‘forgot’. Now, when I see her or think about her, I focus on the good times we’ve shared or her sense of humor which I love. Her name has stopped being synonymous with betrayal to me.

But Don’t Be a Fool About It!

Forgiving and forgetting does not mean giving up your personal power or allowing yourself to be used as a doormat. To use the chalkboard analogy, if you use an eraser to wipe the board, you won’t wipe it completely clean. There will be a faint trace of the words and images that were there before. When it comes to forgiving and forgetting, that faint trace can serve as a silent reminder.

You have forgiven and forgotten, but the old signs are coming up again. He’s staying out late. He’s being secretive on the phone. He’s started picking fights so he can storm out of the house. Is he having another affair? Forgetting doesn’t mean ignoring the signs and behaviors that are staring you in the face – that would be foolish.

Be forgiving but be real.

I forgave my friend. I ‘forgot’ her betrayal. But, I also learned my lesson. She is still a friend but she is not as close a friend as she once was. I love her but from safe distance. I talk to her but I don’t confide in her about everything like I used to. I won’t be fooled again.

For A P3 Power Session on learning to forgive, contact us at staff@Thep3group.com or call at 704 909 7663..


By Karyn L. Beach

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me, up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. (Matthew 18:21-22)

Raised a Baptist, I grew up familiar with that verse and I understood the concept of loving the sinner and not the sin. But, for years I struggled with the whole ‘forgive and forget’ concept. To me, it just seemed … foolish.  

The way I rationalized it, to forgive was one thing but to forget was a dangerous proposition. Didn’t forgetting mean that I was opening myself up to the same mistreatment again? Didn’t forgiving and forgetting mean that I was leaving myself open to be taken advantage of?

I would immediately think of the loving wife (or husband) who repeatedly forgives the unfaithful spouse only to have them continue to stray. Or the person who forgives their abuser only to have the abuser continue the abuse. Forgiving in those circumstances seemed hard enough. But forgetting didn’t seem possible or desirable to me.

Forgive, Forget But Don't be Foolish Forgive …

I love quotes. And one of the best quotes I found about forgiveness says, “Not forgiving someone is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” I get that. Forgiveness is a selfless and selfish act. You are forgiving the other person’s actions but in the process, you are releasing the negative hold that those actions and that person had over you.

Forgiving doesn’t mean that you are condoning the action. Forgiving means that you are letting go of the hurt and the pain. It’s easier to forgive if you can understand the person’s reason for doing what they did but even if you never understand, you can still forgive.

I had a friend who betrayed me. Without getting into unnecessary details, she did something very hurtful and hateful. Her actions pierced me to my soul. I don’t understand why she did what she did. I may never understand; but, I had to let it go. I knew I’d successfully forgiven her when I realized that I no longer felt that tension in my gut when I thought about her or the incidence

Forget …

I used to think forgetting was like washing the chalk off a blackboard. If you wipe that board with soap and water, it looks brand new, like nothing had ever been written. To me, that was the dangerous part. If the slate were scrubbed clean, if I truly did forget, then I would be opening myself up to the same actions all over again.

Then, I realized, forgetting wasn’t necessarily scrubbing the slate completely clean. Forgetting meant not dwelling on the incident or bringing it up over and over again. If you truly want to rebuild a relationship with a person who has broken your trust then you can’t keep bringing up the negative incident. You have to lose the urge to relive it and to punish the other person with it.

I forgave my friend. And I ‘forgot’. Now, when I see her or think about her, I focus on the good times we’ve shared or her sense of humor which I love. Her name has stopped being synonymous with betrayal to me.

But Don’t Be a Fool About It!

Forgiving and forgetting does not mean giving up your personal power or allowing yourself to be used as a doormat. To use the chalkboard analogy, if you use an eraser to wipe the board, you won’t wipe it completely clean. There will be a faint trace of the words and images that were there before. When it comes to forgiving and forgetting, that faint trace can serve as a silent reminder.

You have forgiven and forgotten, but the old signs are coming up again. He’s staying out late. He’s being secretive on the phone. He’s started picking fights so he can storm out of the house. Is he having another affair? Forgetting doesn’t mean ignoring the signs and behaviors that are staring you in the face – that would be foolish.

Be forgiving but be real.

I forgave my friend. I ‘forgot’ her betrayal. But, I also learned my lesson. She is still a friend but she is not as close a friend as she once was. I love her but from safe distance. I talk to her but I don’t confide in her about everything like I used to. I won’t be fooled again.


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