When I went through a divorce, it was the toughest time in my life. Anger and frustration about what I had endured for twenty years surfaced. I was mad with no outlet and no one to help. I talked with a friend who told me that I had to explain what happened in my life, without mentioning my ex-wife. It was hard because I wanted to lash out and place blame. I learned that I could not blame someone else for my issues.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ speaks of forgiving and forgetting. In the Lord’s Prayer, He says, “…and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” (Matt. 5:12) Jesus also speaks in Matthew 18 of a servant who owed his king ten thousand talents (let’s say dollars). The servant pleaded with the king not to sell all of his possessions, including his wife and children, but to give him more time to allow him to pay back the debt. The king in his mercy forgave the debt and the man went on his way. This same servant was owed one hundred pence (let’s say cents) by another servant. The second servant begged forgiveness and time to pay it back. This second servant was thrown in prison until he could pay. The king got wind of this and had no more mercy for the first servant, and put him to the tormentors until all was paid back that was due.
I realized how much I need to forgive how I felt I was wronged. Sometimes we feel we have been wronged, but in fact, life has just dealt us a bad hand. Sometimes we don’t see the consequences of our choices, prior to making the choice at the time. Sometimes, someone else is a bit blinded when they hurt or offend us. I knew I had to let go of my pains, and actually repent of my choices that caused my ex-wife pain also.
I decided to really look at what it means to forgive and forget. In my mind, I was saying the word…forgive…forgive….fore…give. Soon a thought entered my mind as I broke the word apart. To me, fore means “prior to” and give means “to present something of value.” Again fore means “prior to” and get means “to receive something of value.”
To forgive, in a gospel sense, means to give them something of value prior to a test or trial of the relationship. To forget, in a gospel sense, means to receive something of value prior to a test or trial of the relationship.
As an example, my neighbor has given us firewood during the winter, helped with moving bales of hay, helped buy hay, and many other things of service to me and my family. We have given his family baby goats, metal and plastic water containers for his animals, and other things to help them. We each have for(e)given and for(e)gotten each other.
If my neighbor had to borrow my car and while using it, the car was damaged, I would be quick to forgive his action as we have already forgiven and forgotten each other. This is easier to do to those whom you already love. Jesus mentioned this in the beatitudes when he said,
46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? 47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?Matthew 5:46-47
To love someone who loves you is easy.
To love someone who you have not already forgiven and forgotten, is much harder and is where the true test comes in. Can you forgive and forget, especially someone who has hurt you and with whom there will never be any reconciliation? The following article shows a group of people who did just that:
On October 2, 2006, a shooting occurred at the West Nickel Mines School, an Amish one-room schoolhouse in the Old Order Amish community of Nickel Mines, a village in Bart Township, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania Gunman Charles Carl Roberts IV took hostages and shot ten girls (aged 6–13), killing five, before committing suicide in the schoolhouse. The emphasis on forgiveness and reconciliation in the Amish community’s response was widely discussed by the national media. The West Nickel Mines School was later demolished, and a new one-room schoolhouse, the New Hope School, was built at another location.Wikipedia
This story tells of a man who entered an Amish school. We actually live in Amish country, and it is their belief that they don’t use weapons to harm someone else. They don’t defend themselves because they believe God will defend them or they would suffer rather than kill someone else. When this happened, it was told how the community forgave the man and his family. They knew the murderer had mental issues, and the Amish community had mercy on him and even mourned with his family.
So, if you are having a hard time forgiving someone of their trespasses or offenses, do as Jesus advised when he said,
44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.Matthew 5:44-45
To love those who love you, is an easy thing to do. If that was all that was asked of us, it would be easy for us. We are instead asked to love those who aren’t so easy to love. When it comes to forgiving and forgetting, we “fore-give” without “fore-getting” from a person that we are dealing with. This means we don’t have an interchange with that person, for whatever reason. Instead, we “fore-get” from Jesus and give to someone who we may feel doesn’t deserve it. In this way, we become more like Jesus, who atoned for us, knowing that we could not pay him back.
In plural marriage, there must be a constant forgiving and forgetting. When two or more wives share the same space, there is a lot of stepping on toes. Often women will revert to walking on eggshells or avoiding conflict. This leads to other issues and soon no one feels like they are heard or understood. Wedges come between the women and they turn to the man to do something to solve the issue. The man, who loves all of the women equally cannot solve the issue by taking sides. His role is to mediate and teach forgiveness, especially by example.
To forgive and forget not only means to let go of what has happened to you and forget about it; in my opinion, it also means to show love before a negative situation happens, as well as showing love when it isn’t always due.