Let’s face it—forgiving is difficult. It is only because of Jesus that we have the strength to forgive others. God wants us to forgive others as He has forgiven us, but forgiving is not the same as forgetting. The old saying “to forgive and forget ” is not biblical. We can forgive others, but it doesn’t mean we forget what they have done. Choosing to forgive means that we are giving the problem over to God, but it doesn’t mean we forget what happened. Even though forgiving is hard, there are many reasons to forgive even if we can’t forget.
Let’s look at five reasons to forgive even if we can’t forget:
1. God Calls Us to Forgive
The first reason to forgive even if we can’t forget is that God calls us to forgive others. Ephesians 4:32 tells us, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” God knows it’s hard for us to forgive others, especially when they have done something really bad to us, yet He still calls us to forgive them. As mentioned, forgiveness is not the same as forgetting. It would be impossible to forget what somebody did to us, but it’s not impossible to forgive others, even if it seems like it at times. I have struggled with unforgiveness for years, and it’s not a good place to be.
God doesn’t want us to hold onto unforgiveness because it will only hurt us. Unforgiveness weighs you down and drowns you in pain. We need to listen to God and forgive the person who has hurt us. Many people think that forgiveness means you forget what happened, but that’s not true. Though we won’t forget the hurt or betrayal, we can decide to give it all over to God. The Lord wants us to give all of our anxiety, worries, and pain to Him (1 Peter 5:7).
2. Improve Mental Health
The second reason to forgive even if you can’t forget is that forgiveness improves your mental health. If you hold onto unforgiveness, it will cause anxiety, stress, and depression. I struggle with all three problems, which worsens when I hold onto unforgiveness. Holding onto unforgiveness will only cause you to have these problems too. The best course of action is to forgive and move forward.
Forgiving doesn’t mean what they did is okay. Rather, it means that you are giving the problem over to God. By giving all unforgiveness, pain, and bitterness over to God, you will be able to have peace of mind and peace of heart. Yes, it can be hard to forgive, but there are so many benefits to forgiving. Holding onto unforgiveness will only cause pain and problems in the long run. Your own mental health should forgive and give it all over to God.
3. Forgiveness Brings Healing and Freedom
A third reason you should forgive even if you can’t forget is that forgiveness brings healing. When we choose to forgive and give it over to God, we will truly be able to experience freedom. Choosing not to forgive will leave us in the chains of unforgiveness, which will only bind us and restrict us. Jesus died for us to have an abundant life (John 10:10)—not a life of restriction. Holding on to unforgiveness will steal our freedom and our joy. Choosing to forgive others will grant us freedom.
Some things are harder to forgive than others, yet when we forgive the bigger things that are weighing us down, we will feel freer and weightless. We won’t have to carry about the big weight of unforgiveness anymore because we have chosen to forgive. Forgiving others will bring freedom to live the rest of your life in the peace of Jesus. Don’t let unforgiveness hinder your freedom any longer.
4. We All Make Mistakes
A fourth reason to forgive even if you can’t forget is that we all make mistakes. The Bible tells us that we all sin and fall short (Romans 3:23). None of us are immune from the results of sin. A song that was recently released from my favorite band, Two Door Cinema Club, contains lyrics that urge us to remember that we all make mistakes, “We all get it wrong/So don’t stay mad for long” (“Wonderful Life,” Two Door Cinema Club). Just as these lyrics tell us we all get it wrong sometimes, we must be ready to forgive others for their mistakes.
If we self-reflect, we will be able to see that we, too, mess up and make mistakes. Nobody is perfect except God alone; therefore, we will all continue to make mistakes. Just as we would like the other person to forgive us when we mess up, we need to forgive the person who has hurt us. Forgiveness is the key to healing from the past and moving on.
5. Shows Christian Growth and Maturity
A fifth reason to forgive even if you can’t forgive is that it shows your own Christian growth and maturity. Mature Christians can forgive because they know they are giving all their pain to Christ. They are choosing to release unforgiveness and move on with God’s plan for their life. There is great strength and maturity in forgiving others.
God wants us to be strong and forgive others. As we know, it can be really hard to forgive others. It’s easier to be upset and bitter toward the other person rather than forgive them. When we choose to forgive, we are demonstrating our own Christian growth and maturity. Yes, it is hard to forgive others, but it is vital to our own Christian growth.
Christian growth and maturity are hard to cultivate on our own, but God can help us heal. Praying for God to help you with unforgiveness can help you greatly. He can help soften your heart and allow you to give forgiveness to the other person even if they don’t deserve your forgiveness. Jesus tells us, “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins” (Mark 11:25).
Making the Right Decision
The right decision is always to forgive and give it over to God. I know that it is hard, but it is what we all have to do. We don’t need to stay in the chains of unforgiveness. Remaining in the confines of unforgiveness will only hurt us and hinder our Christian growth. If you are holding onto unforgiveness, it is time to let it go. Give it all over to God. He knows the pain you are experiencing, and He can help you receive healing.
Choosing to forgive doesn’t mean the pain you experienced is forgotten nor does it mean the pain that you experienced is okay. Rather, forgiving means giving the situation over to God. It hurts when others do bad things to us, and it can be hard to forgive them, yet true healing and freedom will only be found once we forgive the person. God wants you to forgive them and give your pain over to Him. There is happiness past the pain and the hurt.
Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/fizkes
Vivian Bricker loves Jesus, studying the Word of God, and helping others in their walk with Christ. She has earned a Bachelor of Arts and Master’s degree in Christian Ministry with a deep academic emphasis in theology. Her favorite things to do are spending time with her family and friends, reading, and spending time outside. When she is not writing, she is embarking on other adventures.