Forgiving and forgetting are two words which are quite often used together. But should they be? After all, they mean quite different things and they portray quite different emotions. I would imagine that at some time in each of our lives we have all been hurt by somebody. This might have been a physical hurt but it could also have been an emotional hurt. How do we cope with it I wonder, and are we able to forgive the perpetrator? The intensity of the action might well have an influence on whether we can forgive or not. But at the end of the day we should not bear grudges, but be prepared to stand up and at least try to forgive. It always amazes me when I read stories of horrific actions carried out on somebody and the victim, or somebody closely associated with the victim, publicly states their forgiveness. In fact, as I write there is an article in the newspaper relating the story of a Muslim surgeon who treated victims of the Manchester Arena bombing, forgiving a man who randomly stabbed him as he was about to enter a mosque.
In the bible there are many references to forgiveness, among them:
“Be tolerant with one another and forgive one another whenever any of you has a complaint against someone else. You must forgive one another just as the Lord has forgiven you.”
And of course, there is the part of the Lord’s Prayer when we pray:
And forgive us our trespasses (sins),
As we forgive them that trespass (sin) against us.
In other words, if we are expecting others to forgive us, then we must be prepared to forgive as well.
But now let us move on to forgetting. When there are traumatic events in our lives, we may well want to forget but that is sometimes difficult. As much as we may wish to blot out the memory of something, it is not always possible – that memory lingers. Of course, some memories are good, but there are some that we may wish we could forget.
At this time of year we are in the season of remembrance, when we remember the sacrifices made by so many in two world wars and other conflicts. As time goes on, these conflicts, especially the two world wars, become more and more a distant memory. But should we forget? Some may well argue that we ought to. But at least those of us who wish to give thanks for the sacrifices made, can do so.
On Remembrance Sunday many of us come together to remember all those who died so that we may have the freedom we experience today. It may well be difficult (or perhaps impossible) to forgive a good deal of what went on but perhaps this is an opportunity not to forget, but to say “thank you”.
Best wishes to you all
Licensed Lay Minister and Churchwarden.