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Forgive and Forget: Myth or Reality?

Forgive and forget

Forgiveness and forgetting are often mentioned together, but what do they really mean? Is it truly possible to completely forget a hurtful event? In this blog post, I will explore the concept of forgiveness and forgetting, and delve into the idea that remembering can actually be beneficial in our personal growth and self-preservation. Moreover, I will discuss how forgiveness does not imply absolving the offender from consequences. Let's dive into the complexities of forgiveness and the significance of remembering by exploring various instances.

1. The True Meaning of Forgiveness:
Forgiveness is a profound act of releasing ourselves from the burden of anger, resentment, and the desire for revenge. I don't support that it necessarily entails forgetting the wrongdoing, instead, it involves a conscious decision to let go of negative emotions and choose a path of healing and understanding1.

– Chioma's friend betrayed her by spreading rumours. While Chioma forgave her friend, she did not forget the incident. This should enable Chioma to establish healthier boundaries with her friend and choose her new friends more wisely in the future, right?

– Emeka's business partner embezzled funds, causing the company financial ruin. Although Emeka forgave him, he did not forget the incident. This should motivate Emeka to implement stronger financial controls in his subsequent ventures, ensuring a similar situation would never happen again.

2. The Power of Remembering:
From a biological standpoint, forgetting traumatic experiences completely is nearly impossible. Our memories are deeply ingrained in our minds, and even if we forgive, the memories of the pain and betrayal may still be retrieved should we be exposed to a near similar occurrence2. Remembering a hurtful event can serve as a valuable lesson and a form of self-protection. It allows us to recognise red flags, avoid potential harm, and make informed decisions in the future. Remembering does not help to build a malicious intent, but by remembering, we empower ourselves with knowledge and wisdom gained from past experiences.

– Tomi was in an abusive relationship but eventually found the strength to leave. While she forgave her ex-partner for the pain inflicted, she remembered the signs of manipulation and control. This awareness protected Tomi from falling into a similar situation again and helped her cultivate healthier relationships.

– John experienced a betrayal in a professional setting when a co-worker stole his ideas. Although he forgave the co-worker, he remembered the importance of trust and collaboration. This remembrance guided John to establish stronger partnerships and safeguard his intellectual property.

3. Consequences and Accountability:
Forgiveness does not absolve the offender from the consequences of their actions. It is crucial to distinguish forgiveness from condoning or excusing wrongdoing. While forgiveness involves letting go of personal resentment, it does not mean that the offender should be free from accountability or face no repercussions for their behaviour3.

– Ugonna's neighbour caused damage to her property due to negligence. Ugonna forgave her neighbour for the mistake but insisted on a fair compensation for the repairs. This demonstrated that forgiveness and accountability can coexist, ensuring justice is served while fostering personal growth.

– Nonso's friend borrowed a significant amount of money but failed to repay it. Although Nonso forgave his friend, he maintained a sense of responsibility. He discussed the issue, expressing the need for repayment by instalments, or finding a solution that would restore trust and financial balance.

In summary, the concept of forgiving and forgetting is complex and multifaceted. While forgiving allows us to find inner peace and let go of negativity, forgetting is not a realistic expectation. To me, remembering can serve as a tool for personal growth and self-protection. I think it's important to strike a balance between forgiveness and the appropriate consequences for the offender.
Now, your turn. What are your thoughts on forgiveness? Do you believe it's possible to truly forget? Let's learn from one another's perspectives.


1. The apostle Paul said in our text that we are to forgive “as” God in Christ forgave us. The word “as” points to two things. We are to forgive because God forgave us.
2. Memories are biological phenomena and as such are dynamic. Exposure to cues that trigger the recall or retrieval of traumatic memories activates the neural systems that are storing the memories.
3. Forgiveness does not mean condoning or excusing a wrong. And it doesn’t minimize or justify the wrong. We can forgive the person without excusing the act.,offender%20without%20reestablishing%20the%20relationship.

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