Forgive and Forget
By Michael Josephson
Related article: It’s Not Easy
Tony and Tracy were newlyweds when they went to a friend’s wedding. Tony drank too much, and when a seductive former girlfriend kissed him on the lips, he kissed her back inappropriately. Tracy was furious.
The next day, Tony was full of remorse. He apologized, sent flowers, pledged his absolute fidelity, and begged for forgiveness. Finally, Tracy absolved him.
Yet in the following months, she repeatedly referred to the incident. Tony protested. “Look, I admitted I was wrong. I’ve done everything I could to make amends. You said you’d forgiven me. Why do you keep rubbing my nose in it?”
"Rub one’s nose in it" (= To remind one of one's failures or wrongdoings) 提醒一個人他的失敗或是做了錯事
Tracy said, “I have forgiven you, but I haven’t forgotten what you did. And I don’t want you to forget it either.”
Clearly, Tracy hadn’t forgiven Tony and was using his indiscretion as power over him.
True forgiveness involves more than saying the words. It involves letting go in a way that frees both parties from grudges and guilt. The phrase “forgive and forget” is often used because without forgetting, there is no true forgiveness.
Forgetting doesn’t mean we don’t remember an incident; it means we voluntarily let go of our right to punish an offender and fully and unconditionally release the wrongdoer from further penalty. In effect, we cancel the moral debt.
When a relationship has been damaged by a hurtful act, the victim can choose to hold on to righteous anger and pain or let them go so the wound can heal and the relationship can flourish. In the end, holding on to a grudge could damage Tracy’s marriage more than Tony’s indecent kiss.
Forgiveness doesn’t come naturally and it isn’t easy, but it’s both generous and wise.