Forgive and forget?
by Jeff Beneze
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“And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God? But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.” (Genesis 50:19-20 KJV)
Have you ever had someone apologize for doing something that hurt you? Maybe even time and chance brought your worlds back together someway and you had an opportunity to revisit an old situation. Forgiveness and clearing an old score is rarely easy or simple. Consider something in digging through that process... Have you ever heard the phrase, “forgive and forget”? Aside from being a very difficult process, I am not so sure this is an accurate idea. Forgiveness, absolutely! Forgetting, I am not so sure about. Dwelling on the issue until it becomes poisonous is probably not the correct path, but what do we need to remember about the situation? The resolution! We do not need to remember the hurt as much as we need to recall how that hurt was healed. It is like paying off an old credit card. While that credit card may have done you a great deal of damage; once it is reconciled, and the balance has been zeroed out, there is a stack of papers that you can reference to remind yourself that this issue has been resolved. I think there is something to be said for remembering along with a past pain, how that past pain was resolved. It is not that we have no memory of past issues, but that we instead have a memory that can itemize each resolution.
This is somewhat similar to how God remembers our sins. They are ever present before Him. “For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.” (Psalms 51:3 KJV) Yet He forgets them in the sense that He recalls that they are paid for in full by the atoning blood of Jesus. “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.” (Psalms 103:12 KJV) Until the world is completely remade, there is still an east and a west, but they are different directions that no longer come back together. Sharing with others what God has done for you may involve a great many stories that acknowledge what someone else has done to you. Yet each of those stories involve the greatness of what God has allowed to be forgiven. There is a great deal of power in sharing with someone from what you have been healed. The memories and details of how the situation was turned over to God should be as clear and important as what happened in your recollection. This is important when the temptation to settle an old score creeps up as the memory of how it was paid for should be the very next thought. God may or may not still have more in store for them, but your involvement in it has been resolved. Your part has been changed and new opportunities afforded.
Another interesting aspect of Joseph's response is that he did not shy away from acknowledging that something had been done with evil intent. Granted, he did not spend time dwelling on it or trying to exact on the spot revenge, but it is incredibly important to note the acknowledgment. The manager, when hurt, all too often tries to shy away from an acknowledgment during a confrontation and especially during an apology. Perhaps he was hurt by the events of the situation and does not want to dredge it up again. Perhaps he is simply trying to keep the encounter from re-escalating. Perhaps he is trying to play the role of a benevolent person in stark contrast to the person who caused the initial problem. In any case, by shying away from acknowledging that harm was done (or at least intended), the reconciliation is not complete. The transaction cannot be marked (and remembered as) paid. It may be paid credited to God or credited as resolved to the individual, but pending closure is quite a different stamp. Taking that extra step to acknowledge the hurt and working through that resolution process may cause a certain fear inside us. Yet, it is important to find a way to get that invoice paid before they are called in. “The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe.” (Proverbs 29:25 KJV)
“A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.” (Galatians 5:9 KJV)
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