I know you’ve heard people say this before, “I can forgive, but I can’t forget.”
I hear this all the time and it’s so natural for our brains to think this way. Our lower brain’s only job is to keep us safe. It runs on what we call the motivational triad, which is this: Conserve energy, seek pleasure and avoid pain.
This was very helpful wiring for our caveman ancestors who had the very real fear of being eaten by a tiger, if they left the security of the cave. It was helpful in perpetuating the race and preserving life, but that wiring doesn’t serve us anymore in modern day society.
Thank heaven our brains have evolved and we have a prefrontal cortex that allows us to observe the lower brain and correct or change its thinking.
We’ve been commanded by our loving Heavenly Father to forgive AND forget, but why?
When we say we forgive someone, what does that look like? Do we just accept their apology but move forward with caution? (not forgetting / the lower brain’s attempt to keep us safe). Many of us do this in our relationships. We put a bandaid on the hurt for now, but stand ready to rip it off again at the slightest infraction.
Of course God wants us to forgive others so that we can live or act in integrity with the way we believe; being kind and loving and treating others as our Savior taught us. This feel right, this feels good.
But what about the forgetting???
I believe the commandment to forget was given out of extreme love and compassion for us personally. You see, the past has NO POWER to hurt us anymore. The past is gone and the only thing before us is an empty slate which we can write upon. The ONLY way our past can hurt us, is when we THINK painful thoughts about it.
These painful thoughts keep us imprisoned. We can’t move forward because we are choosing to wake each day and lug that heavy suitcase around.
We mistakenly believe that if we forget, we are letting someone (or maybe even us?) off the hook for their bad behavior. It feels necessary. It’s our brain’s attempt to keep us safe.
But inflicting this pain upon ourselves holds us back from living our best lives. It stunts our creativity, dulls our faith and sabotages our future happiness.
Forgetting is the gift you give yourself. It is refusing to carry that burden anymore. Forgetting gives you the freedom to create the life you want and love yourself and others in a way that is pure and unconditional.
If this seems impossible, it’s not. I will take you by the hand and show you the way. Work with me.