Thursday, January 24, 2013

Forgive and Forget?

I'm still making my way through Set Free: The Authentic Catholic Woman's Guide to Forgiveness. It's a profound, thoughtful book that has led me to some serious introspection and I take it in small doses. Also, active three year olds aren't exactly understanding of the need for introspection. If you haven't gotten this book yet, then please do.

Genevieve Kineke addresses one of the most often quoted thoughts about forgiveness: forgive and forget. But, is that really possible? Kineke makes an excellent distinction on forgetting. In small, trifling matters I should forget the hurt, but for bigger, habitual, or traumatic injuries forgetting is not wise.

In the case of habitual hurts, say at the hands of an abusive parent, it would be stupid to "forget" the injury after forgiveness. Why? Because you set yourself up to be hurt over and over and over again. Protecting my heart from someone who has been known to trample on it is not selfish or un-Christian, it is wise. Sometimes I have to end a relationship because it is damaging to the soul and other times I have to be a little smarter in how much I trust or what I share.

In the case of traumatic hurts, forgetting is practically impossible and certainly not normal. Kineke shares a powerful story of a rape victim and her search for forgiveness, but you'll just have to buy the book to get the story. I'll share a quote though,

"We should not ask for the ability to forget the sins against us but rather to remember them in a way that we can manage, that will give glory to God for his great mercy..." (page 84)

The Sacrament of Reconciliation was part of my grad school studies, but it had more to do with the history of the sacrament, Biblical theology, and the nuts and bolts of the sacrament. Unfortunately, we didn't spend much time talking about the "how-to's": how to help people see the need for forgiveness and the Sacrament; how forgiveness is a process; how to pray to be able to forgive; how to know my forgiveness is earnest.

 I'm glad I've got Set Free now, not only for myself, but to help me in ministry.

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