Many people struggle to forgive and forget. But nowhere in the Bible does it say, “forgive and forget.” The Bible says to forgive unconditionally and love those who hurt us. The Bible doesn’t tell us to forget because God knows we’re not able to forget. But if we forgive, we don’t need to forget. It’s okay to remember because when you forgive, the sting of unforgiveness is taken away. It becomes just like any other memory. It won’t hurt you anymore. When it comes back to your mind, you should be at ease with it, just like any other memory. That is how we understand that we have forgiven our enemies unconditionally.
A Seminarian shared the following life experience to help others forgive.
A terrible secret
His family—his father, mother and his younger brother—were a very happy family, and they loved each other very much. They used to joke around and have lots of fun. When he came home from school each day, he would talk to his parents about what happened at school and they would each share the details of their day. It was a joyful family.
But one day he had a tragic experience. He happened to see his father sleeping with another woman. He was shocked. He could not believe that his father was cheating. His father did not see him, and he didn’t know that the boy had seen him. The boy was so badly shaken that when he came back home, he could not even look his mother in the face because she was so loving and caring and she loved and trusted his father so much. He could not forgive his father for what he had done to his mother.
How could he do this! The boy kept everything in his heart. It was burning in his heart, and he wanted to tell his mother, but he knew that if he did, there would be big problems and that may be the end of the family. So, he kept it in his heart and didn’t tell anyone. He wanted to share with somebody because it was suffocating him, so he thought of speaking to his parish priest, but he decided against it because his father was a close friend whom the parish priest respected. So, he kept all these things inside.
Falling into sadness
Before this incident he had been a happy boy. When he came home from school, he would crack jokes and he would share all the things that happened in school with his parents and his brother. But after the incident, he would come home slowly and after changing out of his school clothes he would sit in a corner thinking deeply— no chatting, no smile, no happiness. His brother would call him to go and play but he was not interested. He was slowly falling into depression. Soon his parents noticed that something was wrong, and they tried to speak to him about it, but he would ask to be left alone.
His parents knew that something was going on. Initially they just ignored him, assuming he had his own personal reasons, but they noticed that his silence was increasing. He would lock himself in his room. They thought he must be on the computer, but he was not doing anything. He was not interested in anything. He was just lying down thinking and thinking and thinking…
When help is needed
If you notice a different character or behaviour in your child, such as suddenly becoming very gloomy and sad when they are normally very talkative and active, that’s a clear sign that they are going through something, that something is disturbing them, and they need help. That child needs spiritual counselling, spiritual help and a confidante to speak to. This is very important.
As the boy became more and more depressed, his parents knew they had to do something. His mother talked to him and said, “Child, there is something disturbing you. Something is going wrong. I think we should go to a doctor, to a psychiatrist, or someone.” Then he got angry with his mother and said, “Mother, you don’t know what I’m going through. You don’t know what is in my heart, what is disturbing me. But I know why I behave like this. I don’t want to meet any doctors.”
Looking at his unreasonable reaction, the way he was getting angry, the way he was raising up, made them to feel something was strongly disturbing him. The way you raise your voice shows what is inside of you sometimes. Raising up irrationally may be a sign there is something we’ve been carrying for long-time, something that we are suppressing inside. This boy was carrying something inside that he could not share with anyone and let go.
Running away from home
The mother told the father, “We need to do something, but he’s not willing to come with us.” So, one day his father tried to advise the boy, but he got irritated, went to his room, and locked the door. Frustrated by this behaviour, his father forced the door open and shouted at him. The boy shouted back at his father, who got so angry he yelled at the boy again. Now the boy could not control himself, and he raised his hands against his father. His mother, who was witnessing this, was so furious that she took a stick and started beating the boy. “How dare you raise your hands against your father? Get out of my home. I don’t want a child like this. We never brought you up like this,” she said.
While she was beating him, he had nothing against her. He wanted to hug her because he knew that if he were to reveal what was going on, it would hurt her more than anyone else. Therefore, he had compassion for his mother even when she was beating him. But his mother was so angry, and he didn’t want to see the angry and hurt face of his mother again, so he left home and went to his uncle’s house, far away where he stayed and continued his studies.
At his uncle’s house and at his school, he was not able to speak to anyone about his experience, so he became even more sad. All his friends and family members who knew him well noticed that something was disturbing him; that he was not himself. They couldn’t do anything about his situation because he was becoming more stubborn, and his character became worse. He would come back from school, go to his room, lock the door, and stay there, not talking to anyone and only coming out for food.
Sharing with Jesus
One day he came from school, went to his room, and locked the door as usual. He opened his bag and a beautiful picture of Jesus fell out. When he looked at the picture, the face of Jesus seemed so alive. Jesus’ face was looking at him and even the eyes seemed to be moving. Suddenly he thought, “If Jesus is so alive, why can’t I share my problems with Him?” Following a strong inner inspiration, he put the picture of Jesus on his bed, knelt down on the floor facing the picture, and looking into Jesus’ eyes, he started sharing his life experience. “Jesus,” he said, “how could my father do this? How could he cheat my mother? How could he cheat both of us? We loved him so much and this is what he did.” He went on sharing all his life history. The moment he started speaking about his father he could not control himself. He burst into tears and wept bitterly. He cried for a long time then, tired, he slept on the floor and Jesus slept on the bed.
Healing from pain
The next day when he got up and went to school, he noticed that the heavy burden he had been carrying in his heart was reduced and he wondered what had happened. Then he realised maybe it was because he had shared his life experience with Jesus and Jesus had started helping him. That day he hurried home from school, went to his room, locked the door and put the picture of Jesus on the bed again. He knelt down and began to share once more about his father, his family, his mother, his brother, and again he wept until he fell asleep on the floor, tired.
The next day when he went to the school, he found that his burden was further reduced and he felt great relief. He was very happy. For the first time, he started looking around and introducing himself to other children, and other children started speaking to him. Everyone noticed that he had changed. That day, when he came home, he started speaking to his family members and smiling. When he went to his room, he locked the door, put the picture of Jesus on the bed again, knelt down and started sharing. But that day when he was sharing, he could not cry. He wanted to cry, because for two days he had enjoyed crying, and now he knew that by crying he had been able to get rid of all his burden by sharing it in front of Jesus and receiving healed.
That day as he shared his life experiences with Jesus, he noticed that his pain was gone. When he had shared before, he had cried because of the pain, but now, as he was sharing all the negative experiences that he had gone through, he had no pain and he was not able to cry. He realized that this was no longer a painful moment for him, and that day he slept early. Within one week of this experience, he was completely healed and changed. He could think of his father, his mother and his brother without pain. He could talk to his family members and his friends. He started joking around, playing games and spending time with his friends. He became normal because for one week he had been sharing all his negative experience in front of the Doctor of Doctors, the one who could heal him, uproot every wound from his heart—and that Jesus healed him completely. Now, although he remembered exactly what his father did to his mother, he had no more pain inside because the sting of that pain was gone.
Believe He exists
The best way to get healing is to find the Doctor of Doctors, Jesus Christ, and to go before Him. First, you should believe that He is a living God. When the boy looked at the picture and he saw Jesus alive, that his eyes were moving, he decided he could share his problems with Jesus, and when he did that, Jesus healed him. If you really want to come out of an unforgiving experience which is burning and eating you up, then be in the presence of Jesus, trust in Him and believe in Him. In Hebrews 11:6 we read, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, for whoever would approach him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” Remember, when you come before our Lord Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament you must believe that Jesus exists because Jesus is more real than yourself or any one of us. Remember also that he rewards those who seek him.
Re-live your pain
After believing that Jesus is alive, the boy shared all his negative experiences. He re-lived his pain. The easy way to get healed is to re-live your pain in front of the Blessed Sacrament—in front of the living presence of Jesus Christ.
Remember the story of Emmaus? When the two disciples were going to Emmaus, they were disappointed, crying and so sorry about what had happened to Jesus. And when Jesus walked with them, they did not recognise Him because their eyes were veiled. Jesus knew they were wounded; that they were carrying sorrow, disturbance and pain inside. So, Jesus made them re-live their experience. He asked them to tell Him what they were discussing. Then they got angry with Jesus because they were not interested in re-living that negative experience. But Jesus knew what they were going through and urged them to tell Him.
In Luke 24:18-20 we read, “Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, ‘Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?’ He asked them, ‘What things?’ They replied, ‘The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him.’”
What we read is a summary of what the disciples shared about what happened to Jesus— the way Jesus carried the cross, the way He went through rejection, the way He was crucified, the way He died, the way He was buried— all these things they explained to Jesus, and Jesus listened to everything silently. He could have said, “Don’t waste my time I know all these things better than you, so just keep quiet.” He could have healed them without asking them to explain all the details. But Jesus healed them by making them re-live the pain, then removing the pain from their hearts.
When they were going to Emmaus, they were full of sorrow and arguing with each other, but we read in Luke 24:33-34 that after the healing service which they went through, “That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. They were saying, ‘The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon.’”
“They said to each other, ‘We’re not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?’”(Luke 24:32). Remember, when these two disciples first heard the word of God it did not touch them; it did not convert them because there was a hidden wall caused by the unforgiveness and hurt feelings. But after their conversion, once they received Holy Communion with repentance and their eyes were opened, they understood the meaning of the word of God. They understand that their hearts had been burning.
If we are in the sinful bondage of unforgiveness, even if we hear the word of God, even if we have some physical feeling of burning zeal, still we may not realise it is God who is working in us because there is a hidden wall in front of us; that is, unforgiveness. This unforgiveness will be taken away from you if you open up in front of the Healer and share all your negative experiences in front of Him. He will heal you and wash away every pain from your heart.
When the Israelites made their journey of 40 years through the wilderness, they too had to re-live all their painful experiences—all the rejection they been through, every kind of crisis which they had experienced in Egypt. In this re-living of their life experiences, God never abandoned them. In the night He was there as a cloud of fire giving light and in the daytime, He was the cloud that gave them comfort and consolation. God’s presence was there, always moving with them in every situation of their lives.
In God’s presence
So< find some time alone in front of the Blessed Sacrament. If you can, go to your church, sit in front of the Blessed Sacrament and pray. Open up your heart and pour out and offer your pain and you will experience blessings.
When Hannah prayed in front of God, He blessed her in a mighty way.
As she continued praying before the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. Hannah was praying silently; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard; therefore Eli thought she was drunk. So Eli said to her, “How long will you make a drunken spectacle of yourself? Put away your wine.” But Hannah answered, “No, my lord, I am a woman deeply troubled; I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the Lord. Do not regard your servant as a worthless woman, for I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation all this time.” Then Eli answered, “Go in peace; the God of Israel grant the petition you have made to him.” And she said, “Let your servant find favor in your sight.” Then the woman went her way and ate and drank with her husband, and her countenance was sad no longer (1 Samuel 1:12-18).
Hannah was able to open up her heart in the presence of God, and as a result, she was healed. This is exactly what the boy did, pouring out all the pain which he could not share with anyone here on earth. The easiest way to get healing if you have a heavy heart from unforgiveness is to open up in front of our Lord Jesus. The sting of your pain and unforgiveness will be taken away, and you will be able to forgive. You may remember it; you don’t need to forget, but when you remember, it won’t hurt you any more.
As the boy was sharing his experience, his face was shining. As he talked about what had happened with his father, he had no more pain. He is happy now, relieved, and released from the bondage of unforgiveness. After he was healed, he decided to go back to his parents’ home, and when he saw them standing at the entrance, he put his luggage down and came running to his father and hugged him. They all cried and hugged because they had missed each other.
If you are able to forgive, your life will be back, your joy will be back, your family will be back. That is the best way to regain what you have lost. But if you keep unforgiveness, you will lose everything.