Although challenging, most of us grasp the importance of forgiveness. We get that forgiveness is the precursor to change, healing, and freedom. Conversely, we also get that the inability to forgive only brings detriment to our soul. Unforgiveness invites soul toxins and gives torment legal license to wreak havoc in our lives. Therefore, we make valiant decisions to forgive--even when do not want to "let it go".
However, forgetting the act, the offense, the moment, the treatment, etc. is altogether different. Is it possible to forget?...
According to the word of God, it is possible ! It is also a directive. This is not to suggest avoidance, "selective amnesia", or a disconnect from a very real source of pain and aguish. When the Bible speaks of forgetting, the Hebrew word, "zakar", it is indicative of reminding, having at the forefront of one's mind, or to record. Essentially, it is ruminating, replaying, rehearsing an event over and over again. We are cautioned not to do this.
Paul writes to the church of Philippi in Philippians 3:13 stating, "No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead..."
He emphasizes his humanity by saying, if you will, "Hey, I have not 'arrived'. I am not perfect, I am still working through some things, but I am not looking back. I have made a decision to look forward trusting God all the way."
Could that be our key to "forgetting"? Making a willful decision not to rehearse the pain of our past? But what about the mental pop-ups? Those thoughts that randomly pop-up on the computer screen of our mind that often catch us off guard. We cannot control those, but when they do "pop-up", we can pull them down, as the word of God instructs us to do:
"We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."--2 Corinthians 10:5(NIV)
So how do we move forward, forgive, and forget? Consider the following:
1. Bring your brokenness to God. Be honest with your feelings, your pain, your disappointment. If you are feeling vindictive and vengeful, bring that to God also.
2. Make a decision to forgive. (See the article, "Offenses, Unforgiveness, and Bitterness)
3. Chose not to rehearse/meditate on the offense. When the thoughts "pop-up", apply the word of God immediately. (Do not allow the thought/pop-up to take control, escalate, and grow. Thoughts quickly turn to actions/behaviors when they are not dealt with immediately.)This is a spiritual discipline that takes time and deliberate practice.
4. Be patient. Give yourself, and God time. Allow his healing work to be done in your life; realizing he is the Judge of all (Hebrews 12:23). He will vindicate any wrong that has been done against you.
Ultimately, we must trust God with our hearts, our past, our painful memories, as well as our future. In so doing, we experience freedom and liberty to move forward in our lives.