Christians are a funny bunch. They spend a lot of time in group hugs and “sharing” sessions, all the while lamenting what a rough time they’ve had at the hands of parents, spouses or acquaintances before they became Christians. They even sometimes go into gory details about their abusers, offering up their abuse stories for sympathy (I suppose), although they mask it as a learning or a teaching moment.
These stories aren’t teaching anyone anything except how NOT to choose to forgive.
When we choose to forgive, we should do the same thing as God does when he forgives – forget about it. Forgetting about it means to CONSCIOUSLY choose to put it to the back of our minds, even if it keeps popping up. It’s a decision of the will. It’s not a feeling (you won’t feel like forgetting and you may even feel like you can’t forget; that’s why it’s a decision, not an emotion-based response). Ask God to help you with this. He’s more than happy to help you. THAT’S WHAT HE’S THERE FOR.
If you truly want to forgive, don’t talk about people who’ve hurt you and whom you’ve chosen to forgive. Don’t talk about what they’ve done to you, however horrible it was and however deeply it scarred you. As a born-again, you’ve become a completely new person. God has forgiven you because you’ve chosen to forgive everyone who’s hurt you. Whatever people did to you in the past, pre-rebirth, is dead and done; whatever people are doing to you now, post-rebirth, is likewise dead and done after you’ve chosen to forgive them (which you should do as soon as you notice someone’s hurt you).
Here’s what you do when you choose to forgive: You simply act as if it never happened, you pray for your abusers, and you keep a safe distance from them. If people prod you to talk about your experience, tell them it’s over and you don’t want to talk about it anymore. If you feel it starting to overwhelm you, take your pain to God in private. He wants to counsel and comfort you. He’s your counselor and your comforter. Chances are pretty good that he’ll tell you what I’m telling you – if you want the pain to go away, choose to forgive and TOTALLY forget.
Imagine if God says he forgives us one day, and then turns around the next day and starts railing at us about things we did two years ago! That would be very confusing for us and also very un-Godlike. Once God forgives us for something, he forgives us that thing forever. We’re supposed to do things God’s way, as Jesus did, and as Jesus taught us to do.
Remember: “Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.”
Choosing to forgive also means choosing to forget.
God will help you with this. Just ask him. He loves you. He’s waiting. Ask him.