Lori Borgman: Forgiving and forgetting, the hardest thing you may ever do

My grandma used to say she could forgive, but she couldn’t forget. This was always in reference to a comment made by a neighbor about pickles my grandmother had entered at the fair. The neighbor criticized the pickles for being sliced as rounds instead of spears, or maybe it was the other way around.

Grandma was a good woman. Hard worker. Married to a farmer. Raised six kids during the Depression and had a seventh when she neared 40. She did not have a mean bone in her body, but when the best you have to offer in hard times is criticized in front of friends, family, neighbors and fair judges, you might forgive, but you don’t forget.

Of course, it was never really about pickles. It was about humiliation — a humiliation you may forgive but, no matter how the years pass and how hard you try, you never completely forget.

Forgiving is often a complicated and multi-tiered work in progress, particularly when you are the one doing the forgiving.

I am always stunned when someone gives a victim statement in court and announces they have forgiven the one who inflicted unspeakable evil on a loved one. My first thought is always, “Did you not once think about jumping over that courtroom railing and taking a swing?”

Maybe they did. Maybe jumping and swinging was their first, second and never-ending thought for days, weeks, months and years. But maybe they kept thinking, processing, praying, crawling over broken glass, and somehow, some way, by the grace of God, made it all the way to forgiveness.

Forgiveness can be a lifetime achievement.

But even when we commit to the act of forgiving, we can’t always forget. Memories return out of left field, sitting at a stoplight, in the middle of the night, there you are back at square one.

It is that time of year when many are deep in thoughts of forgiveness. Lent spans the days of contemplation; Good Friday commemorates Christ’s work of forgiveness on the cross, and Resurrection Sunday celebrates the splendor and glory of an empty tomb and new life.

In addition to extending forgiveness, God does something humans often cannot — He forgives and forgets. “I will forgive their inequities and remember their sins no more,” says the book of Hebrews.

Forgiving and forgetting is the slate truly wiped clean.

Lori Borgman is a columnist, author and speaker. Send comments to [email protected].