The Act of Forgiveness Does Not Equal Forgetting

My friend, Bill Hamilton, has a weekly post he does and each week, as part of his post, he chooses a word of the week to discuss. In this post, Bill tackled “forgiveness.” How important it was and how difficult it can be to forgive. A wonderful part of Bill’s blog is the interaction between his readers and Bill. Bill encourages dialogue and it makes it one of the most interesting aspects of his blogging.

Bill and I got to chatting in the comments about exactly what forgiving does for you. I thought some of you might be interested:


July 24, 2014 at 9:17 pm

Late to comment, this is another good one, Bill. I cannot recall if it was mentioned, but forgiveness actually helps your health. That baggage of grudges and anger we drag around with us attracts more of the same until it physically manifests in some illness in the body. It is easy to confuse that forgiveness is for the one who caused the injury. No, it is for the one who suffered the perceived injury. A quick funny story: I was driving with my Mom and very angry with my boss. She said something softly about forgiveness and maybe praying that he receive something good, something he wanted. I was incredulous. “What?! I don’t want him to be happy, Mom!” She glanced over at me, meeting my eyes. “Well, no one said you have to mean it….” Grin.


July 25, 2014 at 7:34 am

Hunt, I do not believe I specifically addressed that, and I should have. I may have made an off hand comment but without looking I don’t believe I did, you are making a great point. The act of forgiving and getting that baggage off your shoulders does in fact have a great impact on your health. I have read countless stories over time how the good nature of a person has helped the prevail when ill, and I can’t help but think that my overall good attitude has prolonged my life at a better quality of life as much as the doctors care I have received. Hunt, I love that story, I may have to figure out a way to steal that punch line for a post. Take care, Love Bill


July 25, 2014 at 4:24 pm

Laughter, steal away, Bill. I thought about this after I had posted my comment – I think we confuse forgiveness with forgetting. The act of forgiveness is not an act of forgetting. You remember, but you remember without the sting or poison affecting you. That is the difference.


July 25, 2014 at 4:44 pm

Hunt, I agree totally with your assessment. And I realize there in lies my problem sometimes I can’t remember without the sting. That is what I am having difficulty doing with particular instances, particular actions, I want to forget the sting, the poison, the pain, so I can forgive, but for some things I haven’t got there yet. Take care, Bill


July 25, 2014 at 5:02 pm

See, you want to forget to forgive. Doesn’t work that way. You don’t forget, Bill. But once you are able to forgive, the memory loses its self-driven power to poison. There’s a strategy I use to work on forgiveness – I look to see where I benefited (– this can take some time, admittedly). God always turns what was meant to harm you to something good, so I look to see the benefit.

And then I snatched and copied to create a post here, so Bill has not had a chance to reply.

I should premise or add that I believed wholeheartedly in the right of revenge in my younger days, say right up until about 1976, which would make me age 21. Huh, see I would have written about age 30. I am surprised I was so young… (grin!) I got involved in something we called The Revenge Wars. … I was a person who could hold a grudge better than just about anybody I knew. It helped that I had a photographic memory because then you can I could play the cause over and over in your my mind, writing anger on your my heart at whatever dirty deed had been perpetrated upon you me.  It  came about that someone hurt my feelings, I responded to that hurt in a way he felt was an escalation.  He, of course, retaliated and went way overboard.  At which point, I declared war.  …. I might tell that story one day.  He agreed that I won hands down.  I won because I crossed a line in the sand.  Now, everybody, including him (after much reflection) agreed he deserved it.  But I learned something that day.  Anybody can have revenge if they are willing to let go of restraint.  I knew his vulnurability(ies) and I chose one that fit the crime.  And, in my defense, I did maintain some ethics while executing it, but not much.  I got my revenge – it was very clever, well strategized and very well executed.  I learned my own strength that day.  It’s hard to verbalize what that did, except to say I never felt the need to take revenge again.  Maybe because I knew I could do it.  I’d like to think it was from some spiritual shift, but it wasn’t.

I started with the act of forgiveness and went straight on over to revenge.  Resentments, anger marks the wearer not the doer.  The best revenge in life is living well.  Not allowing the power of one person to dominate your thoughts, your heart, your blood, your time here on earth.   I like to think of my life as an ongoing, evolving story.  Something that happens to me in Chapter 5 may not see resolution until Chapter 9, 15 or 21.  But having been here for 59 years, I can tell you you will see it handled.  It might not be what you picture as justice, but most of us cannot read what matters most in the hearts of others, so if the idea of justice is for that person to hurt as much as they hurt you, leave it to God.  He/She/It knows exactly how to deliver justice.  … Just a thought.


26 thoughts on “The Act of Forgiveness Does Not Equal Forgetting

  1. I know of which you speak. Forgiveness is not forgetting and for a long time that’s what I tried to do. I needed time and that boil of resentment festered and hurt till I thought I’d have to do something physical. Eventually, time helped, but it took a long time. We need to ‘learn’ the act of forgiveness because it is hard to see clearly when all you see is red.
    Fascinating subject, isn’t it? Awesome post, Huntie.


    • Tess, thank you for sharing your thoughts here. You’re right, time helps, but (LOL) time takes…. time. I have seen “red” a few times and to get me to that point means the person has truly trespassed. For me, the single biggest difference in forgiving was to realize it wasn’t for the person who hurt me, the act of forgiveness was for me. Period. It can be very hard to get your brain and your heart on the same page. Sometimes I come at it from the viewpoint of “What’s the lesson here?” Sometimes I just don’t care what the lesson is, I want to strike back and strike hard…. (oops – truth will out). Once I decided that my good could not be withheld from me, I tried to see that person who hurt me as a volunteer – someone being used by God to make sure I didn’t take the wrong turn…. Not an easy argument, but it does shift my thought process…. Grin.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Yeppers – you and Bill covered the gamut. Forgiveness does not always equate to forgetting. Sometimes, but not always.
    After all, we know that song “Won’t get fooled again.” I was faced by this dilemma about 14 years ago. A co-worker royally screwed me and then manipulated for blame to land at my feet.
    Eventually I was exonerated but I was angry and bitter about the whole mess. I had to teach my Sunday School class a lesson on forgiveness which was hard because I was having trouble with it. It made my head ache, sleepless, bad bad bad moods. During the discussion, one of the women spoke of a situation which she had the same trouble with forgiveness. A friend told her, pray for that person.
    She replied, I won[‘t mean it!! Her friend said, pray anyway and pray for the day you will mean what you are praying. God doesn’t mind if it takes you awhile. She said, one day, I realized I felt lighter and that I actually did mean my prayers for that person! I felt a huge weight off my heart. So I thought about what she said and began to pray for the person. It took awhile but one day, I meant it. I felt much healthier in my mind and soul. I have not forgotten, but I have forgiven. Forgiving is healthy. Sometimes not forgetting is smart.


    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, Kanzen! What occurred to me as I read your comment was you have just gone through a lay off in the past few months. You have written you had some anger around it, but look at the difference this time around! You’ve moved forward instead of allowing them to take your peace of mind. Splendid!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Took me years to see that what I feel negatively toward another because of misdeeds against me adds to the insult/hurt. My mind doesn’t let me forget but my heart has been learning to let go of the emotions that I have from reactions because that’s only hurting me. It’s not an easy process. Seems that us humans are embedded with brain grooves to feel what we feel regardless of all the wisdom that says let it go. Posts like that remind me to keep on trying to be mindful to moving my attention off things that fester inside of me. Have a good weekend, Huntie. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paulette, I love “Seems that us humans are embedded with brain grooves to feel what we feel regardless of all the wisdom that says let it go.” So true! Certainly in my head it is. Nowadays, I try to see it as a challenge in how fast I can let go. The trick is it has to be sincere and for that, I sometimes need to “fake it ’til I make it.” Grin. Those mental groves keep you in pain. I think that is what my Mom meant when she said essentially, just do it, you don’t have to mean it. Loved (and still love) that woman! ❤


  4. Hunt,

    It has been a wonderful dialog between us that has drawn in comments from far and wide. I truly understand the thoughts, I understand the process, I understand the cause and affect. I also have learned to forgive to forget. But then I flip the hand over, and I see other instances other actions and I can’t forgive, or at least I haven’t been able to yet, and I know that is dragging me down. I truly want to forgive so I can forget. But that damn other side of the hand keeps presenting itself.. These life lessons continue,I truly hope I get there before the end of retirement. But until then I am going to be like your mom “Well, no one said you have to mean it….” Please take care, and thank you for this wonderful dialog. Bill


    • You know, Bill, in thinking of what you’ve written, maybe there are levels of forgiveness. Sort of like a tide washing in and out until finally whatever is holding us back is at long last washed away. Remember my Angel Card ritual? I have often picked the forgiveness card. Consciously, I’ll look around and wonder who haven’t I forgiven or to whom do I need to make amends… and nobody comes to mind. I think I’m all squared away. And, then, laughter, some memory will pop up and I realize “Oh. That one. Mmmm, still working on it, God.” Bottom line, you are not alone on seeing and remembering what the other hand is showing. Peace be with you, Bill. ❤


  5. Before I comment individually to my wonderful four readers above who took time to dialog with me here, I have to laugh because at least three out of the four are Scorpios. Scorpios are famous for their passions and for evening the score. Grin. I admit I had a private bet with myself that these three, at least, would have something to say on this topic. And, God bless them, they surely did. Thank you to all four of you!


  6. Huntie, I have visited this again because I need the refresher. Just as soon as I feel I have forgiven, the pot is stirred again, and the effort I have put in is for not and I am back looking at my hand and then flipping it over to see the other side. This entire process makes me unhappy with myself. But at least I don’t have decades and decades to think about it. Take care, Bill


    • Bill, your desire and effort to let go your anger and hurt is enough. The tide washes in and out each time removing the poison a little bit more. Be kind to yourself. Other than one, I know of no one who leaves this planet perfect. Love Huntie


  7. I confess that I’m a pro at nurturing slights – real and imagined. My grudge catalog is rather impressive and I tend to drag it out for review with the smallest provocation.

    This post had some very powerful words in it, especially the comment that the act of forgiving allows you to remember without the sting or poison affecting you. I think I shall be reminding myself of that for a very long time!


  8. My first husband had a saying, “I may not get mad, but I WILL get even!” And he always did!
    I prefer to forgive. Forgiveness does not always come easily or right away. In order to forgive my parents for my abusive childhood, I had to “divorce them” & not have any contact for a couple of years to be able to work through all my feelings with a therapist. I have forgiven them but I will never forget.
    I have even forgiven my first husband for all the hurt he caused me & my daughter. When his father died a couple of years ago, I sent him a condolence card. Apparently he was very surprised by this & asked my daughter why I would do that. I had no real problem with his father, so I was sorry he had gone before his time due to cancer & I wanted him to know I was sorry he had lost his father. I guess he hasn’t gotten past whatever pain he may have carried from our relationship.


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