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Forgive and Forget
Photo: Yuri Arcurs
There’s a simple, one sentence verse found in Isaiah 43:18 that offers sound advice: “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.”

The Message Bible says it this way: “Forget about what's happened; don't keep going over old history.”

We tend to dwell on the past a lot. We’re good at going over old history. Husbands and wives are famous for bringing up the past during arguments because an issue was never resolved. And it’s not so different between parents and their children. Being yelled at or hit, ignored or criticized, feeling that a parent was often absent from the home, or witnessing divorce--these are wounds that go deep.

Dwelling on a hurtful past happens among friends, too. I’ll never forget the morning when my husband was speaking for a communion service at a small church. There were two women present who had once been best friends. But now they were enemies. One woman sat with her husband and children in the front of the church; the other sat with hers in the back.

Miracle Happened

But when it was time for the foot washing part of the service, a miracle happened. Before anyone left their pews to go to various rooms, the woman in front quickly stood up and walked to the back of the church where her former friend sat. We were all watching. You could have heard a pin drop.

In a forgiving and loving tone, she said, “It’s Communion Day. May I wash your feet?” Overwhelmed, her friend quickly accepted. They embraced, while many of us watched with tears in our eyes.

What’s beautiful about this gesture isn’t merely that a woman desired to patch up a friendship. It’s that she offered to actually take on the symbolic role of a servant and wash the feet of the very woman who had hurt her. She could only do this because she had chosen to forget the past.

There are some hurts so deep that they can’t be easily forgotten. Hurts that involved physical or emotional abuse might need the help of a counselor or trained pastor to overcome. And that’s OK. In fact, seeking help is often the first step in the healing process. Then at some point in the process, you’ll discover that enough healing has taken place to leave the hurt as history. For smaller offenses, it’s a matter of choice. The choice to hold on, or to let go. To replay the offenses over and over in your mind, or to hit eject.

Going over old history hurts you. It causes you to harbor anger, resentment and bitterness. If you find this happening in your life, get supportive help if needed. Then go to the Forgiver. Ask him to soften your heart toward the person who has hurt you. Consider the times Jesus has forgiven you. He can work the miracle of forgiveness in your life, too.

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By Nancy Canwell. Copyright © 20011 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture taken from the NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®.

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