Forgiving without Forgetting
How do you forgive someone who has hurt you, but also hold them accountable for what they've done?
How do we forgive without forgetting--at least to the extent that we remember the lessons learned, but don't let the memories of what's been done make us bitter?
What do you do when you decide to forgive someone who either doesn't respond or who never even really knows that you have forgiven them? And is there a point in forgiving someone whom you know won't care if you do or not?
These are the questions that often leave us stymied and stuck when it comes to our ability to forgive. Most of us lack the imagination to see beyond the either/or categories we create and often never see any other possibilities.
And so we withhold our forgiveness and with it so much of our ability to heal from the wounds inflicted by others, to grow in our faith, and to move on to new life, hope and peace.
I was reading through some of my reflections and notes from the daily readings I've been doing over the past several months, and I came across this powerful line from Bishop Desmond Tutu's excellent book on forgiveness:
Forgiving requires giving voice to the violations and naming the pains we have suffered. Forgiving does not require that we carry our suffering in silence or be martyrs on a cross of lies. Forgiveness does not mean that we pretend things are anything other than they are… there is always a risk that when we forgive, everything will not turn out all right.