An observant reader responded to my last blog with an important point, “I can forgive, but I cannot forget; I know he’ll do it again.”
I agree with her. She obviously knows from experience. And yet, what about that popular saying, forgive and forget? Let us take look. We agree on forgiving; a grudge benefits no one; it’s nothing but a heavy burden on us.
So forgive wholeheartedly. It will free and ease your mind and soul. However, do not forget—you’ve learned a valuable lesson that you want to remember.
If the subject of your grudge is a person, make sure you distinguish between two types of causes—was it an inadvertent incident, such as dropping your favorite vase, or is it someone’s regular behavior that is upsetting you?
Forgive and forget the incident. Yet someone’s regular behavior is a different matter. The chances are slim that a person will change his or her behavior. We all know how difficult it is to alter our fundamental habits, weaknesses and predilections. It’s a fact we need to accept.
You probably have friends that have separated and moved back together again—repeatedly. They forgave and forgot, and did not take into account what drove them apart in the first place. Mere promises are not enough, however earnest and sincere they may be meant. A promise is something we’d like to do, but not necessarily what we’re able to carry through.
Do not forget to include yourself on your agenda of forgiveness. Suppose you answered your cell phone while driving to the mall and got a pricey ticket (it’s around $200 I found out the hard way). Pay it, take a driver’s class and then forgive yourself, but do NOT forget it. You don’t want to get another ticket; more important, you want to drive safely.
To quote Alexander Pope: “To err is human, to forgive, divine,” or more down to earth as Mother Theresa put it: “People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.” And here is the most appropriate by Thomas Szasz: “The stupid neither forgive nor forget; the naïve forgive and forget; the wise forgive but do not forget.”
Best wishes for a healthy and rewarding 2013,