Practicing divine forgetfulness comes in very handy. God has generally blessed me with a decent dose of it. Life’s just too short to walk around keeping track of all the ways someone one else has hurt or disappointed me. I certainly hope others aren’t walking around with such lists about me!
A man once phoned his preacher and said, “My wife and I just had a historical argument.” The preacher gently corrected, “You mean an hysterical argument don’t you?” The man replied, “No historical. She dredged up every mistake I have made in the past 20 years.”
Sometimes the wisest and healthiest thing we can do is understand what’s worth forgetting.
Clara Barton, the founder of the American Red Cross in 1881, was known as the “angel of the battlefield”. Once a reporter had slandered her with an unkind lie. Years later, she was asked if she had any bad feelings against that reporter. She replied, “No, I distinctly remember forgetting that.”
Choosing to “forget” is part of how God forgives. And He can help us forgive that way as well.
“Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland….
I, even I, am he who blots out
your transgressions, for my own sake,
and remembers your sins no more.”
(Isaiah 43:18-19, 25)
“For I will forgive their wickedness
and will remember their sins no more.” (Jer. 31:31-34)
You see, forgiveness includes “forgetness”. It’s not that we can’t remember others’ wrongs, just that we choose not to call them to mind.
Please don’t misunderstand: this aspect of forgiveness doesn’t mean pretending that no one did anything wrong, or ignoring the fact that we’ve been hurt and hurt badly, or even just learning to be civil in pubic settings around people who’ve hurt or irritated us.
It means we let it go.
It’s not easy, but it’s worth the effort. Unclench the grip of your memory, climb out of the rut of rehearsing that wrong again and again, and let it go. Actually, let yourself go free.
We do well to ask ourselves: What hurt am I carrying that I need to let go? What does God need to help me forget?