Ephesians 4:32 “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”
“When you wake up from the anesthesia you will not remember anything that happened during the surgery.”
Dr. Fox spoke these words to calm my fears about my impending foot surgery a couple of weeks ago. The assuring thought filled my mind as the nurses wheeled me down the hospital hallway. Then the next thing I knew I was in the recovery room staring at my bandaged foot and wondering how three hours had passed so quickly. If only other kinds of painful situations could be forgotten so easily.
Living in a fallen world as we do, there is no one who will escape painful moments. Sin causes each of us to be hurt and to hurt others with our words, actions, or lack of action. Sometimes the pain is inflicted unintentionally when our motives are misunderstood, and other times the pain is caused by an act of malice intended to harm physically or emotionally. While these often unavoidable circumstances create wounds that deeply scar our hearts, the path to healing is found in forgiveness. God says that we should not let bitterness and wrath infect our heart, but instead be kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving of one another.
When we choose to forgive one who has harmed us we set ourselves free from bondage. This does not mean that the wound is not real, but it keeps our heart from developing a deadly infection that will only make the pain worse. We must release the anger and bitterness through forgiveness because this is what God has done for us. By dying on the cross for our sins, Jesus Christ purchased our forgiveness and restored our fellowship with God. By forgiving others we release the hold they have on us, and we allow God to begin the healing process in our wounded hearts.
If we are to forgive others the way God in Christ has forgiven us, we must consider what that means. Psalm 103:12 says, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” God chooses to forget our sin when we receive His forgiveness. But what about us?
Forgive AND forget! This is hard to do! If we choose to forgive someone who has harmed us, how do we forget the injustices we have suffered? It is not easy to let go of painful experiences and our minds often hold these memories forever.
I do not know of any kind of anesthesia that can cause us to forget our painful experiences completely. In response to different triggers, these injustices will sometimes come back to our minds. But I have found a way to aid in the forgetting process. As an unwanted memory flows through uncontrollable channels into my mind, I have made it a habit to debilitate the camera roll of events. I immediately stop and ask God to help me in my moment of distress. I don’t focus on future occurrences of the memory, but only on the present moment. In this way I redirect my thoughts, choose to let forgiveness win, and ask God help me in the forgetting process. I remind myself that He understands what I experienced and has everything under control. By trusting Him in the moment He moves me forward in the healing process.
My foot is progressing nicely after my surgery. Dr. Fox did an excellent job and I am very appreciative of her kindness, knowledge, and skill. I am also glad I have no recollection of the pain involved in the process.
It’s not quite as easy when it comes to other kinds of hurts, but I am even more thankful that God has the power to heal my heart. By trusting Him completely moment by moment, He will help me to forgive AND forget just as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven me.