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It shouldn’t be all about forgiving, forgetting

By Danielle Jurski
On October 12, 2010

How can one really forgive someone without forgetting?

Most times, forgiveness is a slow process. It's not like we can ‘delete' certain events from our memory. And in my case, I don't really forget or ‘delete.' I just suppress things.

And by definition, that means that I'm keeping these things from public knowledge and excluding them from my consciousness. Which, in my eyes, is what everyone does. I mean, I don't go around talking about my former friends or relationships - I simply just exclude these things from daily life.

But have I forgiven these people? Can enough time pass where I've suppressed the memory enough to forget most parts of it all together? I think that's hard to say. As I get older and (all pessimism aside) I go through a lot more experiences where people are more likely to lie to me.

Like at a bar. I know that your real name is Chris, unless you tell me otherwise. You could convince me that you volunteer 20 hours a week at an animal shelter and I might believe you - also because I don't know otherwise.

I usually believe a person until I have a reason not to. However, I understand and also know I can't believe what I hear about you, either.

It seems that maybe we shouldn't put so much emphasis on the phrase ‘forgive and forget.' Maybe it should be all about ‘learning and living.' I've learned from my mistakes and I'm living my life to not let those same mistakes happen again.

It doesn't mean I'm going to tell you I've forgiven you, but I'm not going to take a bat to your car or anything.

Scientifically speaking, our prefrontal cortex is involved in orchestrating thoughts and actions. Two regions of this cortex work together to suppress negative memories by first blocking memories and then the emotions associated with it.

Which sounds about right to me. Maybe it's all about blocking emotions. But this doesn't make us a better person, it could potentially make us a robotic one. And does it make us have any less faith to not completely forgive a person?

Faith is all about trusting. So do we forgive by faith, out of obedience? And do we suffer more when we choose not to forgive?

Once someone has broken trust, couldn't it be safe to say that you aren't just going to forget that? I know I don't go walking around saying ‘oh, it's okay you lied to me, we can be friends again.'

Honestly, I think it just takes time. And faith, morals and past experiences aside - maybe that's all a person really needs.

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