Seventy times seven

I wish I were better able to forgive those who hurt me.  I have this dangerous tendency to hold on to the pain, resentment, and anger from my past.  Then I replay scenes over and over in my mind.

Insulting comments.  Unfriendly faces.  Disrespectful people.  Unfair situations.  They haunt me for days, months, even years afterward.  I still recall with vivid accuracy many painful conversations from childhood.  (Sometimes, I imagine all the snappy comebacks I should have used, but of course couldn’t think of in the heat of the moment.)

In most cases, time has healed the wounds and I can almost laugh at those days, knowing they have no more power to inflict pain.  However, every once in awhile, when something new happens that makes me feel those old insecurities, the hurtful comments of years past all pile up to create an even larger problem.

Being forever angry with someone does nothing good for me or the other person.  It wastes my energy and strains the relationship.  I find that even though I believe I have forgiven the person, I never really forget about what they did (or what I think they did, since my perception of situations is skewed by my emotions).

Holding on to hurt often prompts me to seek revenge in some small way.  Oh, nothing terribly harsh, but just a tiny action that gives me a bit of satisfaction (like if a friend forgets to call me back, I might ignore her the next time she calls).  It’s passive-aggressive things like that.  I’m not proud of it, and it always, without fail, leaves me feeling worse than before (especially when I discover that the offense was either unintentional or untrue).

So the question is: can you truly forgive another without forgetting the wrong that was done?  And even if forgiveness has taken place, how can I learn to deal with upsetting memories in a more productive, healthy way?  Certainly God is more than able to take all of my past arguments, disappointments, and broken relationships and weave them into something breathtakingly beautiful.  In many ways, He already has.

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2 thoughts on “Seventy times seven”

  1. I was totally thinking about the same thing today. My debate always is I forgive this person but if I don’t forget it am I really forgiving them. Then if I forgive the person but this person is not a positive person in my life and I chose not to have them part of my life again am I really forgiving them. For me it more relates to family so it’s a real stuggle.

    1. Yes, I’m sure it’s extra difficult when it’s family, so you feel more obligated to keep trying with them. And yet, you don’t want to hold on to any unhealthy relationships that would just continue to hurt you.

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