“If we wait to forgive people until they say they are sorry we make ourselves hostages to the very person who wronged us to begin with…” – Lewis B. Smedes
Forgive & Forget by Lewis B. Smedes is a great book, published in 1984. I read it back then, when it was new. I loved it. A lot.
It was the first time I considered several ideas I’d not heard of before:
- Forgiveness does not always end in reconciliation.
- Forgiveness is just as much about bringing peace into MY life as it is about the forgiven one.
- Forgiveness may occur no matter the intention of the one who inflicted pain.
I was a very black-and-white thinking young adult. One of the reasons I loved the fundamental church so much was that there were hard-and-fast rules. You followed them, you were rewarded. You broke them, you, uh… let’s not go there. <<< I’m kidding about that, actually. Let’s go there.
Heaven and Hell were two distinct and separate areas. One for the sinners, one for the saints. Except, we were ALL sinners, we were told by the man at the pulpit… saved by grace, yes, but… ugh. It gets fuzzy here. It reminds me of a fine, gold necklace, wadded up at the bottom of a jewelry case. You pull it out and you can see it’s beautiful but a mangled, twisted blob. Just try getting it straightened out! You can’t!
But I digress, as usual. However, I will stop here and say that God is mentioned throughout this book. In doing just a bit of research about the author, I had an A’ha moment when I saw he’d written other books about his relationship with God. He’s definately a Christian. Not surprising. I wanted to give you a head’s up on that.
Anyway. My point is: I believed in Justice (with a capital J). Heaven and Hell. Right and Wrong. Law abiders and Law breakers. Don’t give me that bit about a man who steals bread for his starving family, I’d say. Law breaker, that one! Plain and simple.
Dear Lord, forgive my hard head and heart… forgive my ignorance!
Isn’t it funny that we’re talking about a book on forgiveness today?
One day I’ll tell you about how I came to land in a place where intentions matter and not everything is black-and-white. I call it a gray place, which sounds gloomy. It isn’t. Oh, there I go again, digressing.
Forgive & Forget has four parts:
- The four stages of forgiving
- Forgiving people who are hard to forgive
- How to forgive people
- Why forgive?
Each section is broken up into subsections… and those subsections include real-life stories that bring us comfort and inspiration. Dare we hope? We can actually forgive someone who does not ask for forgiveness, does not care about us… and heal ourselves, even if there is anger left over? Yes, and yes! These sections include all the things you’d think about if you were on a quest to forgive the unforgiveable.
Like I say, I loved this book. I still do… in many ways. But the one thing I never, ever full grasped… was how to forget.
This book talks a LOT about forgiveness. I don’t see as much about forgetting. I remember wondering why it was even in the title. In going back through it for this blog post, I couldn’t even find a quote to use about the “forgetting” part.
Well, here’s the thing… he may or may not tell us how to forget. I think it may be… organic? (To use one of the current buzz words. No longer a buzz word? Oh, nevermind.) What I mean is… once you truly forgive someone, the hurt, like grief, goes through cycles and eventually cycles down to a dull roar, if not a whisper.
Heck, you read the book and tell me what you think. Did I miss the point? I don’t think so… but sometimes, I wear my own rose-colored glasses, ya know?
Forgiving is love’s toughest work, and love’s biggest risk. – Lewis B. Smedes