HOW Often?

(This question came on my Facebook newsfeed this morning. Since I took some time to answer it, I thought it might be a helpful thing to post here this morning.  I’ve addressed the topic of forgiveness more than once on this blog, but it bears repeating. 

This is just scratching the surface. It is by no means THE definitive answer; rather, I’d like to think of it as something to get you started in doing your own Bible search on the topic. )

 I’d love to know what your thoughts are on forgetting. I think that often we put barriers up that were not previously there as a standing stone that we were wronged, and we will never let it happen again.

Linda Kreger
Linda Kreger For starters, the first person who ever said, “Forgive and forget” didn’t have the first clue about human nature. We do not have the infinite ability to forget, as God does. When He forgives, He drops our sin into the sea of his forgetfulness, and remembers it no more. 

I wish I could do that. Unfortunately, I am finite in every regard, including the ability to forget when I have been wronged. For us, the key is in realizing that forgiving is a process, not an event. Jesus told Peter that we need to forgive “seventy times seven.” In other words, we need to forgive to infinity and beyond, to quote Buzz Lightyear  The first time I forgive, especially when the wrong has been grievous, ongoing, perhaps is still happening, is the beginning of a long process of choosing over and over to forgive again. What I have learned is that Satan is very busy reminding me of the offenses, and I have to recognize his voice and shut him down; then I have to pray, asking God to help me keep on forgiving. Another thing I have learned is that in the beginning of the process, this could happen several time in a day or a week. As time goes by, the forgiveness seems to seep into my thinking and emotions so that Satan isn’t very successful in reminding me of it.

It is important to understand that we forgive not for the sake of the offender, but for our own release from the prison of anger and bitterness. Sometimes the person we need to forgive is already dead, or has no idea of the hurt, anger and bitterness we hold because their sin has never bothered them. To approach a person like that and tell him you have forgiven him may get you a big horselaugh. Not worth it.

You do not have to continue to be hurt when you have forgiven. Women who have forgiven abusive husbands do not have to continue to accept the abuse. That’s a whole other conversation. Children who have forgiven abusive parents, siblings who have forgiven abusive sibling—there is no requirement that we need to stick around and let them continue hurting us. There are boundaries to be drawn, consequences to be established and kept, so that the cycle of abuse is broken.

I think I can safely say that 80% or more of the people I see for depression/anxiety are people who have never learned how to deal with mistreatment, real or perceived. They have never understood that “forgive and forget” is not in the Bible; but they also have not learned that to repeat the offense over and over in conversation and/or memory is to keep it alive. Hurt and anger turn to self-pity, then to bitterness, and finally to depression.

This is just scratching the surface. It’s a huge topic, one I’ve had to learn to deal with in my own life. I’ve developed handouts for my clients; I’ve spoken about it in conferences and seminars. As long as we live on this earth, we’re going to be experiencing hurt, offense, anger, bitterness, and depression. The only antidote is to learn true forgiveness, and to understand that it is often very hard work. Where we love deeply, forgiveness can be very difficult.

I also believe that when a person offends over and over, across time, it is very possible to stop loving that person, The offender often seems to think that any behavior of his is excused because he himself was hurt. And it can become a generational cycle. Very sad, often tragic. And again, a whole other conversation 

12 thoughts on “HOW Often?

  1. marvel

    Dear Granonine, thank you very much for this undervalued thoughts.
    I have confounded why forgiveness is important not only for those who have made injustice, but are even more important to the one who has experienced pain. So, that pain, anger, and bitterness will not grow and rule the life. I really wished that all people would come to me and forgive me for my wrongdoings, which would also burden me if the wrongdoings were perhaps never conscious of me. I think I have apologized to most of the misconduct in my life, but I am aware that there were certainly many situations where I did not notice how much I hurt people with my behavior. How someone more attentively perceives the common situation and appreciates it. How he is deeply hurt by my egoistic attitude, but would never show it. It’s past and I can not bring this excuse personally anymore. I hope that I can express it in this way. I feel these situations very painful. On the one hand, I miss the common Sitautionen, which does not exist anymore so much, and it regularly remind me in the everyday life. On the other hand, I have to experience more and more how it is, to strive and to be ignored. This makes me very sad and desperate that I actually fall into self-indulgence and find everything unjust. I am sad, helpless and impotent, and there are moments of absolute indifference to life and my place in it. I imagine how beautiful everything could have developed, if not one misconduct after another had taken place.
    So you are aimlessly driving on an ocean of uncertainty and fishing for hope and forgiveness.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Marvel, you clearly have given much thought to the whole idea of forgiveness. I can feel the pain you feel when you believe you have hurt someone but there is no opportunity to seek forgiveness. Thank you so much for taking the time to read and respond to my post.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thoughtful post. I also agree that we should forgive and let go of the hurt for our own sake, not fir the offender’s benefit. But I also believe we shouldn’t forget, ever, because we need to protect ourselves from more hurt.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Agreed–as long as we don’t make such an effort to remember that we burden everyone we meet with our stories of how we were mistreated. That’s a sign of bitterness, and people grow weary of hearing the litany of our woes. It’s a fine line to tread, to set boundaries and consequences without maintaining anger and bitterness.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Absolutely. Forgiving and forgetting are intimate, private and usually in transferable emotions. Unless there’s a crime involved or you specifically want to help others in your situation… I prefer to focus on positive topics💖

        Liked by 1 person

  3. marvel

    I think we will never completely forget, even if we want to. If you need to keep this memory firm? Perhaps it depends how much you can trust. If you learn to trust and this person knows this and will never want to hurt you I think it is better to let go this memory as good as possible. Because bad memories have a bad energy and keep the place you can use for love….bad memories will always collect the fear and give fear a place to grow….

    Liked by 1 person

  4. So valuable. It touched a nerve with me. That barrier of mistrust will always be up to the person who hurt me the most. I cannot move on if I don’t forgive, but in moving on, the barrier will always be there. Truth is, I don’t want to let it down. The hurt was too deep and remains memorable. Yet, our paths cross now and then and we both know we at least need to be civil. I have forgiven. Forget? Just can’t go there for my own mental and even spiritual safety.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. D Romine

    Your Holy Spirit inspired counsel on “HOW many!” was exceedingly helpful to me. It helped me to recognize some very important things that I have been working on for years.I find it difficult to forgive myself of things done in the past. Thanks for your Non Freudian, Jungian or Rogerian Counseling. We have to search and understand the scriptures to have the basis for helping ourselves and others. We can’t use the worlds darkness to bring Light on a subject. Thanks to you and Glory to Jesus.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. anie

    forgive is important. Other people and themselves…and in fact it is not so difficult as we think. Everyone deals individually with his grief. We must never confuse mourning with hate or punishment…let your gief outside….how often? As often as it gets better, until comfort is there…comnfort could be so near, always!

    Liked by 1 person

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