Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A Herd of Butterflies

I'm still working on unpacking the whole redemption vs. restoration thing (I'm having a hard time figuring out what to put in the top left hand drawer), but an interesting sidebar has popped up: forgive and forget.

Can you? Do you have to? Can you truly forgive someone without forgetting? And can someone really have a herd of butterflies and not have forgiven (don’t try to understand that)?

My friend Amanda and I were chatting on this very subject last night. She told me that her grandmother told her that you haven’t truly forgiven if you haven’t forgotten. Huh.... Now I am certainly no expert on, well on anything really, but certainly on the whole human psyche thing, but I'm fairly confident that it is nigh and unto impossible to forget (short of the whole amnesia thing, of course). I think you can stop dwelling on it constantly, but to literally forget something at the moment of or near to the act of forgiveness has taken place... well I just don't think so.

For example, I have BEYOND forgiven Jen for giving Mike my blankie to wrap up his table in the back of his pick-up, but even though it's been YEARS since this unfortunate incident, I haven't forgotten (ok, so I only remembered it like 10 minutes ago when I was trying to think of an example, but still I remembered!). I really, honestly believe in my heart that I have forgiven Jen. And I hope AND PRAY that she knows that I've forgiven her (she probably doesn’t even remember the whole incident). But does the fact that I've remembered, even if it is something I haven't thought about in YEARS mean that I've not really forgiven her?

I really think that the only One able to forgive and forget, i.e. to give us total and complete amnesty is God. Amnesty is the act of pardoning past acts. It’s an act of oblivion derived from the Greek word amnesia, meaning to forget.

Whereas this One [Christ], after He had offered a single sacrifice for our sins [that shall avail] for all time, sat down at the right hand of God, then to wait until His enemies should be made a stool beneath His feet. For by a single offering He has forever completely cleansed and perfected those who are consecrated and made holy. And also the Holy Spirit adds His testimony to us [in confirmation of this]. For having said, ‘This is the agreement (testament, covenant) that I will set up and conclude with them after those days, says the Lord: I will imprint My laws upon their hearts, and I will inscribe them on their minds (on their inmost thoughts and understanding), He then goes on to say, and their sins and their lawbreaking I will remember no more.’
Hebrews 10:12-17 (Amplified Bible)

Only God will ever really, TRULY have amnesia when it comes to forgetting our sins (only if we truly repent, that is). The rest of us will just have to do our darndest when it comes to forgetting. There are many, MANY things I hope folks have forgotten about, just as there are many things I’ve forgotten about. But I know forgiveness is there. There has to be – otherwise how many friendships and relationships would be ruined without forgiveness?

Unlike God, who forgives and forgets the moment we repent, for me, forgiveness sometimes takes time. That’s not ideal, but that’s the truth. Sometimes it’s quick, often it’s not, but it does come. Forgetting – well that’s different. I want to forget and sometimes, like now, forgetting would be a welcomed friend. But just like Jen and my blankie, forgetting takes time and is never really achieved. But the forgiveness is there completely.

And as for the herd of butterflies, turns out you don’t need to forgive or forget to have them.

Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It's your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.
Colossians 3:12-13 (The Message)

Quickly and completely.

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