There are deficiencies in the forgiveness method known as forgive and forget when used in relationships that have caused significant harm. Forgive and forget as a method of forgiveness is not effective in addressing the hurt of the victim. When faced with a situation where great damage and pain has been experienced does God demand us to simply just forgive and forget? There is a spiritually gratifying method that allows you to move beyond anger, hatred, and hurt to a place of peace, solace and growth; and it is not forgiving and forgetting.
Traditional Ideas and Methods of Forgiveness
Recently I experienced a situation where my brother’s actions in one sense and his refusal to act in another sense caused me great emotional distress and placed significant strain on our relationship. I love my brother and had no desire to stay in such a position for long so in an attempt to both self-heal and repair the relationship I spoke to him about what troubled me. Unfortunately, I was met with resistance in listening to what I had to say, denial of any wrongdoing on his part, rejection of my feelings of hurt, and disregard of any need to take the troubles in the relationship seriously. I spoke to friends and family seeking help in finding a resolution and was told that I should give my forgiveness to him. I was instructed to forgive and forget; simply let go in order to reconcile with my brother because the relationship was more important than the issues themselves.
To forgive and forget would have let my brother off the hook but it would do nothing to address my issues. I asked myself are not my feelings, my hurt, my concerns, my mental and spiritual wellbeing just as important as the relationship; or have they been exchanged, forfeited, sacrificed for the purpose of sustaining the relationship? If I were to give up those things that were important to me, respect, boundaries, decency, and love honor of self, what would be left? What relationship is worth losing yourself? How is a relationship considered valuable when it doesn’t value you?
Imam Ali: The best deed of a great man is to forgive and forget
Forgive and forget? Forgiveness cannot be carried out without recognizing what the problem is or the relationship will continue to suffer. How can you forget a problem that has not been identified and given the appropriate attention? What exactually is being forgiven or forgotten when the issue has not been properly recognized and addressed? Forgive and forget does not lead to a solution, it cannot give you reconciliation, because forgive and forget it is the antithesis of reconciliation. I say this because forgiveness and reconciliation only happen when people are:
1. Aware there is a problem in the relationship
2. Able to recognize their individual contribution to that problem
3. Open to listen to the other person
4. Willing to change out of love and respect for the other person, in the name of personal self-improvement and for the health of the relationship
Forgive and forget is the absolute worst way to handle a problem relationship because it’s a method that doesn’t address the problems in a relationship.
Quran: If you overlook and forgive, God is forgiving, merciful
Religion tells us God demands people to forgive regardless of the nature of the issue; rape, murder, theft, betrayal, abuse, whatever the trouble is the response of the victim should always be forgiveness. In religion the responsibility for forgiveness is often given to the one that has been hurt.
Taoism: When the evil one is forgiven, they are no longer evil
The victim is expected to move one, let go, forgive and forget regardless of who that abusive person is; friend, enemy, parent, or stranger. The severity of the infraction does not matter; it could be something small to something serious whatever it is, needs to be forgiven, period. According to this way of thinking, the right thing to do is to forgive, in order to restore the relationship, and forget, move on, let go so that peace can be achieved, and those in conflict can remain in good standing with each other and with God.
Confucianism: The superior man tends to forgive wrongs and deals leniently with crimes
God Made Me Do It
According to these religious references one can say that God made me do it; that God demands that we forgive those that have done us harm. This is the dominant message that comes from religion in regard to forgiveness, it is ordered by God. It is believed that good people, wise people, great people, truly godly people forgive, forget and move on, because the consequence for unforgiveness is Gods unwillingness to forgive you.
Christianity: But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
Reading these scriptures, we see that on a spiritual level unforgiveness causes trouble between us and God. Unforgiveness imprisons our mind and spirit, holds us in darkness, hurt an