Forgive? Yes. Forget? Maybe not.

Forgive? Yes. Forget? Maybe not.

Forgive? Yes. Forget? Maybe not.

Drawn from my archives

I was at a women’s conference this past weekend. During the lunch hour, everyone was asked to write down a question on a piece of paper. The questions were then taken on stage where we discussed them in an open format. We got feedback from the audience and we offered our thoughts on each topic.

It was clear to me that marriages are under attack, and that couples are mending their wounds.

It was during this time that an interesting question came up. “I’m trying to forgive,” the note read, “but I don’t know if I can ever forget. What should I do?”

The answer was simple, but profound. “Then don’t forget.”

Coming from a place of sin and shame in my own marriage I can understand why she would answer that way.

We can’t always forget, but we can use that experience as a reference point. Knowing where you were and how far you have come, is a reminder of how God has been at work in and through your lives.

In Hebrews 8:12 we read this, “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.”

What that verse is saying to us is that God isn’t holding on to our debt. It’s been paid in full. It was nailed to the cross. If we’ve come to of that place of repentance, there’s no need for Him to bring it up again and again. When a lender remembers a debt he keeps the account open until payment is made. In the same way many people want to hang on to anger until retribution is made.

Forgiving is more an act of doing than it is one of feeling. Even when we do forgive there may be painful memories, there could be a time of healing, there may be legal ramifications, and there might also be a necessity for boundaries.

Just because we forgive someone, it doesn’t necessarily mean that we condone their behaviour. And it doesn’t mean that we open a door for them to hurt us again and again.

Choosing to love and forgive someone is a choice to let go of the hold that their sin has on your life and leave it in God’s hands.

If we are acting in love, and if we are bringing it to the Lord, then we are doing our part. He will be the judge. He will seek justice. He will fight on our behalf.

I’m reminded of an account found in 2 Chronicles chapter 20. King Jehoshaphat ruled over Judah. A great multitude came up against them and so Jehoshaphat went to the Lord to ask for His guidance. All of Judah waited before God: the men, the wives, and the children.

Jehoshaphat prayed, “O our God, wilt thou not judge them? For we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon thee.” (v. 12)

God’s response to his prayer was amazing…

Thus saith the LORD unto you, Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s. To morrow go ye down against them: behold, they come up by the cliff of Ziz; and ye shall find them at the end of the brook, before the wilderness of Jeruel. Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the LORD with you, O Judah and Jerusalem: fear not, nor be dismayed; to morrow go out against them: for the LORD will be with you. – 2 Ch 20:15–17

Isn’t that a beautiful piece of scripture? I love how God commanded them to be still and then to watch as He battled against the enemy and delivered them from evil.

Marriages are under attack. Sometimes it’s an outside source that’s threatening us and other times it’s pride, impatience, and selfishness springing up from within a marriage. Those are the weapons that wound us, cause division, and bring on discouragement.

Our God is a righteous God–make no mistake about that. But He’s also a God who calls us to forgive. Marriages will crumble under the weight of unforgiveness.  When you start adding up all of the reasons that you have a right to be angry, the list grows longer each day. But when we put our trust in God’s judgement and His system of justice we’re able to leave every transgressions in the past and move forward together in strength.

 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. – Matthew 6:14-15

You are loved by an almighty God,

Darlene Schacht
The Time-Warp Wife

Pick up a copy of my bookMessy Beautiful Love: Hope and Redemption for Real-Life Marriages.  *Amazon affiliate link. 

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Written by Darlene Schacht

I'm an Evangelical Christian whose number one priority is to serve Jesus Christ in every area of my life. My husband Michael and I live in Manitoba Canada. Married 25 years, we have four children (three still at home), a bird and two pugs who are everyone's babies, especially mine! Our lives are basically surrounded with three things: our faith, music and everything books. I’m an award winning and New York Times best-selling author who is nothing without the grace of God. Facebook: timewarpwife Twitter: timewarpwife Pinterest: timewarpwife

20 Comments

  1.  avatar
    lisa cuyuch says:

    You are such a blessing. My marriage has endured alcoholism, abuse and infidelity( on both parts). There are times I will hear a sound or the look on my husbands face or tone in his voice that bring me right back to those horrible times. I will literally get sick in my stomach, but through the grace of our LORD and SAVIOUR, JESUS CHRIST, my husband has been sober for almost 4 years. We just celebrated our 23 anniversary this past September. I was baptized about 3 years ago and I forgave evrything, but always had trouble forgetting. Your post showed me that it is ok to remember, it keeps me where I need to be. Thank You again for writing this.

  2.  avatar
    Stacy says:

    Thank you for this much needed message today!! It was an answer from God in response to my prayer just last night! God is so amazing how He is able to talk with us in so many ways. Thank you for being a willing servant of The Lord. It has reached me!

  3.  avatar
    Rosemary says:

    i loved this! I’ve been dealing with the forgiveness /forgetting issue .. Not with my husband but with my mother in law. I think this applies perfectly with any relationship. Thank you!

  4.  avatar
    Tabatha says:

    I’m really struggling with the forgive as well as the forget. My husband of 14 years has had multiple affairs. One year ago I filed for divorce after I found out about yet another betrayal. In the past year he led me to believe that he had changed, that he loved me and wanted to start our lives over again. While I proceeded with the divorce, which is still pending, I found myself hoping. Just a month ago I discovered that he was playing me the entire time and has had numerous sexual relationships over the past year. At this point I feel like a prisoner to my inability to forgive and I can not fathom how to move on.

    • Tabatha, I pray that the Lord gives you wisdom and strength. I hope that they is someone in your life who can give you wise counsel. An apology should be met with repentance. In other words, if someone is truly sorry they should walk the walk.

  5.  avatar
    Leslie says:

    Thank you for breaking down the wisdom behind forgiveness. I was struggling with setting boundaries and felt guilty because I should’ve forgotten the hurt…but now being able to accept that this is to my benefit has encouraged me greatly. This was an issue between my Father and siblings, not my husband, and the hurt was about 5 years ago.
    oftentimes I beat my self up because I should have forgotten the hurt, even though I had forgiven them, the not being able to forget had me bound because when people would ask how is your family, I would have to say ok, but I had to sever the relationship with my siblings.
    My Father and I are working it out and we keep in touch now.
    Thanks again and be blessed!

  6.  avatar
    Nicole says:

    Wow… I have been reading this blog for awhile but never felt compelled to leave a comment. Thank you Darlene for this word today. I have been struggling myself with the feelings of bitterness and unforgiveness. I recently found out about compromise in my husband’s life. I feel that by forgiving my husband’s sin, he might take it as a free pass and I may be condoning his behavior. How do I know that he is truly in a repentant state? Today I rest assured knowing that the Lord will fight that battle – Though it is hard, I want to let go of the hold that his sin has on my life.

  7.  avatar
    Stephanie says:

    This is right on time for me. Im really struggling to forgive my husband for infidelity resulting in a baby. There are so many painful thoughts, feelings, and memories.

  8.  avatar
    Tammy says:

    Thank you for the encouraging message today. I have been struggling with some serious issues in my marriage, my spouse has been abusive and recently threatened my life at at knife point. I didn’t and still don’t feel angry towards him. I felt afraid and sad. Your message has helped me because I have been struggling with the fact that I felt like I had forgiven him, I feel at peace right now in my heart, but I have been struggling with “will I be able to forget?” and I also was unsure ,because I was struggling with these feelings, if maybe this was a sign of me having little faith or trust in God.
    I believe that God is using the abuse of my husband as a way to help me draw closer to him. I know that when he is being abusive he is being controlled by a darkness trying to destroy him and my marriage. I’m not proud to say that over the years that my husband has been abusing me emotionally and through his violent outbursts and I have not handled things very well. I have reacted and my reaction was always poor and not Christ like. It came out in anger, depression, self-pity, and always feeling a need to protect myself and my children rather than ever seeing a need to protect and preserve my marriage. I have not been a Christian for very long.
    Prior to my husband holding the knife to my throat there had been threats on my life but it never had escalated to the physical. I know if he had done that when I was not a Christian I would have handled things much differently. I don’t know if we would still be together right now.
    Your post has helped me to understand how even though my husband has done such a horrible thing to me the feelings I am experiencing are not because I am handling this better but because God is equipping me with His grace and love and although I may not understand the “why”–it is the “what” that is more important for me to understand. What does He want me to learn from this? What does he want me to do so I can grow as a Christian?
    I guess the most important thing is that this post has helped me know is that it’s okay if I don’t forget and that God is always with us no matter what we go through. Thank you again for posting this message.

  9.  avatar
    Aimee Imbeau says:

    I love this post so much. While reading it, I wasn’t thinking about my marriage as much I was thinking about another important relationship that I have in which I just don’t know what to do. I keep hearing “wait for Me” – so, I wait. Thank you Darlene. I’m adding this to my blog round-up for Friday. I just love it so much – the powerful Word you included was just amazing. It brought peace to my broken heart.

  10.  avatar

    Thank you for this wise and beautiful post, Darlene. I just finished writing a book on marriage in which the entire premise is that it is only when we lay our marriages at His feet that we find what marriage was truly intended to be.

    As long as we seek our own way, our marriages will never be at their best. We must realize that we are under attack and the only way to win the victory is to allow God to be the victor. He can only do that when we surrender to His wisdom for our lives.

    Blessings to you and yours, Darlene. Thank you for your continued encouragement!

  11.  avatar
    Bryan Miennies says:

    I’ve just woke up and got a message from someone I love very dearly telling me I’m “sensitive”.
    I’ve tried my best to keep calm and not to speak a word of discouragement but to speak life and positive things.
    Her mother told me to have one thing and that is a prayerfull heart when it comes to her daughter. I’ve prayed and prayed and all seems to get worse. Now I’m trying not to call her anymore and even when I do it’s just Hello… how are you… to the point and goodbye!! No more long talking or other things.

    Is it wise to go through with a relationship with her because now I feel drained!

    • I don’t know all of the specifics, but forgiving someone doesn’t always mean that we’re in a close relationship with them. Sometimes we have to cut ties and keep a distance.

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