To “forgive and forget” is truly a saying that is easier said than done. But as I went on living my life, I have come to realize that this saying may actually be structurally wrong. If you look at the phrase closely, the placing of words seem a bit incorrect, as it is quite impossible to be able to do one before the other. All the more, it is asking you to do two things at once, when it certainly is not easy, and maybe even quite impossible to do both all at the same time (not unless you are God, who is all forgetful and forgiving of our sins!). I think that instead of “forgive and forget,” it should be “forget to forgive.” I think that in order to be able to forgive, you have to be able to accept it, and forget it first, before anything else. It’s easy to say, “I forgive you,” but then we imprint in ourselves what was done to us, all the forgiveness might have been in vain. To forgive, we must forget, and when you forgive, you are freed. It’s confusing, I know, but it’s not incomprehensible.
To explain better, let me remind you of the story of The Prodigal Son. This parable is probably my favorite story in the Bible, because I think that this perfectly sums up my relationship with Christ. To refresh, this parable is about a story of a son who took his inheritance before his father dies, and spends it all of by living an extravagant life. But due to his selfishness and greed, he spent them all and he was left with nothing, even feeding off of hogs’ food. He returned to his father, ready to repent and be condemned, but when he returned home, he was immediately welcomed by his father with a feast and an embrace. The other son, who didn’t leave the father all this time, became angry that his father seemed to have forgotten what his brother did to them. The father explained that it is something to celebrate because what was once lost came back to them.
Now, you may think that the father is crazy to do what he did, but as mental as it sounds, that is exactly what I was trying to explain. You see, the father’s forgetfulness implies his forgiveness towards his son. The fact that he made himself forget of what his son did to him, made it possible for him to forgive. He said that there was a reason to celebrate because something that was lost came back. Of course, in this instance, he was pertaining to the son, but I think he was also pertaining to himself here. He lost himself when he was hurt with what his son did to him. But when his son came back, and forgave him, he celebrated because he felt like he came back home with his son. This is also what happens when we forget and forgive. More than losing the person who has brought us in the state of suffering, we lose ourselves, too, and so, when we are able to let go, to forget, we slowly put ourselves back together again. We learn to love ourselves more, and realize that forgiveness is not just freedom for the Other, but freedom for ourselves.
It is definitely not easy to forget someone’s wrongdoing towards you, but it’s the first step in order for us to fully forgive. In order for us to find ourselves again, we must be willing to forget to forgive, so we can understand why things had to happen, and why we had to experience pain and suffering. Some people will disagree with me, as they may think they can forgive, but never forget. But if you think about it, how can you tell yourself that you really have forgiven, when you still go back and remember? Doesn’t it seem more plausible to forgive when we have finally decided to let go of the things we need to let go first? As I have always said, letting go does not always mean giving up. Most of the time, to let go means we are strong enough to think that we deserve more than what we are holding on to. The only way to be free is to let go and forgive. In the end, we realize that we must forget to forgive, not only for the benefit of the Other, but also our own peace of mind and heart.
Forget to forgive. Forgive to be healed. Be healed to love. Love to be loved.