Ever hear the phrase, ‘Forgive, but never forget’?
It came up this week in one of the Red Letter Challenge small groups at North Cross as we discussed which of the themes would be hardest for us throughout Lent this year: being, forgiving, serving, giving, and going.
Honestly, I had not thought of that phrase in years, but I used to use it…a lot. And as I keep pondering it, I am realizing it had completely become part of my DNA in believing it to be true. And oh, friends, what I have realized it did to my heart and brain is complicated. It kept me in bitterness, holding grudges, writing people out of my life and kept a solid amount of anger very much alive. As any of those emotions surface, it has undoubtedly brought my sin to the surface. It was not even a conscious effort to keep it hidden. It is almost like I suppressed those emotions as if they were meant to be a part of who I was. And how gross is that?
The hard truth is those I was meant to forgive, were completely unaffected by my choice to never truly forget how they hurt me or someone I love.
The person who was truly most affected? Well, hi, there. [Raises hand.]
Which also begs the question…did I REALLY forgive them? Nope. I said I did because that is the adult, ‘Christian’ thing to do, but I never really forgave them. Not in the way Jesus forgives me.
I am holding their forgiveness hostage, which wildly reflects more on me than them, while Jesus continues to pour forgiveness out like the Niagara Falls and a never-ending water source.
“I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.” Then Jesus said to the woman, “Your sins are forgiven.” The men at the table said among themselves, “Who is this man, that he goes around forgiving sins?” And Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” [Luke 7:47-50]
This story is incredible and speaks so much to the rebel Jesus was that he had the audacity to forgive someone of their sins in a culture where you had to make sacrifices to atone for your sin, so that you were not punished by God and could return to the covenant relationship with God. It just makes me smile sitting here having the benefit of the whole Bible, to know the prophecy he was fulfilling and know that he sacrificed his life for all people in the end.
But in the moment…it was culturally shocking. And I think it was meant to be. Shocking jars us into action. Shocking jolts our cultural norm into perspective changes. Shocking can also bring up some junk that can mess with your head, in a good way.
I have realized this week I am holding on to a lot of pain within horrible memories, and Jesus does not want that for me. So…now I am thinking I am going to call in sick for the Red Letter Challenge week that has the theme of ‘forgiving.’
I’m out, y’all.
Just kidding. I’m now preparing for some shocks in the ‘forgiving’ theme week.
And I’m all in.