Forgiving is Practical. Forgetting is Stupid.

“Forgive and Forget”

That’s one of the stupidest things I’ve ever heard. You have to pick one. If done right, forgiveness is much more practical.

There’s a sort of calculus to it, but not like most would expect. The equations you have to balance are between you and another person, but neither side need know shit about the other. Balance of equations serves each side to itself.

If somebody out there needs to forgive you for something, you can forget that. Odds are good you don’t even know about it anyway. Or if you do, you were able to justify it quickly in your own mind and move on. If you’re aware of it, you might give somebody the opportunity to forgive you, as it would be more helpful to them than to you.

But if there’s something on your chest that calls out for reckoning – either forgiveness or vengeance – then you don’t have a choice in this matter. You will remember it until you die. Whatever was done to you, it changed you forever. It’s part of who you are now; how big a part is up to you.

File Under Corrective Knowledge

When you forgive somebody, it doesn’t need to have anything to do with them. You don’t have to give anyone the satisfaction of knowing it. Odds are good they don’t even remember anyway. Fuck that guy. He’s an asshole. You don’t owe him shit.

(Incidentally, those are often the words I use to forgive others. “Fuck that guy” puts out of consideration a wrong done and the one who did it, but it does nothing to remove either from memory. If anything, it files the incident away for reference in future dealings, or to remove those dealings from possibility. “FUCK” becomes an acronym for “File Under Corrective Knowledge”).

Obligatory Jesus Reference

Forgiveness means letting go of something owed to you. There’s wisdom in the words attributed to Jesus: “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” (It’s King James, but still counts).

In the Christian tradition, your sins can’t hurt God; forgiveness is a gift of subtraction that you’re meant to pass along, not something that actually adds to you when you get it. In essence, God’s forgiveness allows you to forgive yourself and move on, rather than wallow in a guilt that has served its purpose, outlived its use, and become a burden of its own.

But you don’t need God to tell you that. And you don’t need good intentions towards the one you forgive either. Letting go of bad intentions will suffice for basic forgiveness.

Emptiness is Heavy.

We carry heavy burdens of emptiness if we hold tightly to what others owe us, especially if they owe us satisfaction in pain and blood. Unfortunately, those are also the hardest debts to forgive. That’s the kind of forgiveness that demands daily repetition, and I’m afraid it gets no easier for that.

Still. It’s necessary if you want to be free of it, even only for that day.


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