Often when someone apologizes the other person will accept
the apology by saying, "Oh, forget it."
But do forgetting and forgiving have the same results?
This is an important question because forgiveness is at
the heart of a healthy and happy life. Forgiveness
protects relationships. It also protects the person
who does the forgiving. Remember the story that
psychiatrist and author Robert Coles tells about Ruby, the
little girl who integrated a Southern elementary
school. Every day the federal marshals had to escort
Ruby through a mob of adults who spat at her and called
her hateful names. Remarkably, the five-year-old
girl did not seem to be emotionally damaged by the ordeal,
a fact that puzzled Coles until he discovered that Ruby
prayed every day asking God to forgive her persecutors.
But what is forgiveness? Is it the same as
Forgetting has to do with self-interest or personal
gain. We want to be free of disturbing memories, so
we try to put troubling events behind us. Forgetting
is a misguided form for getting peace of
mind. It is, when well done, like amnesia.
When you forget your past you can interact, in the
present, with the people or things from your past that
created a problem.
problem is, what you forget doesn't necessarily go
away. Burying something in your back yard only hides
it from view. The things you forget may be buried
beneath the ground of consciousness, but they live on
beneath the surface and manifest themselves in your
feelings and activities. They show up in your dreams
and your drawings and continue to be a part of your life,
whether you are aware of them or not. You are better
off remembering troubling events, feeling the effects of
the memory, and resolving the problem in a way that leads
to true healing. This can only happen when you
Forgiveness is a method for giving love. It is a way
of saying, "I am going to let go of the wrong you
did; I am not going to be bitter and I am going to go on
loving you anyway." When we forgive we achieve
the peace of the gods and become like gods. God has
no unforgivable sins; only people do. Remember the
hymn that ends, "He'll always say, 'I foget.'"
Forgiveness allows us to go on loving and to begin
healing. It is in for-giving that we receive.
God has three plaques over Her desk. I'll tell you
about the second and third ones later. The first
plaque says, "Everything you forget I remember, and
everything you remember I forget." Why?
Because God knows that forgetting means that injuries and
wounds will not heal. They will fester beneath the
surface and lead to ill health--mental, physical, and
spiritual. Ruby could not have protected herself by
forgetting how the howling mob was treating
her--forgiveness was the only thing that could protect
her. Every time we forgive, we begin a new life,
free of the past and open to love. Remember,
forgiveness is not only about your relationship with
others but also about your relationship with yourself.
You are here to serve, not to be served. All the
holy prophets agree, we are here for giving, not for
getting. So try forgiving someone today. Spend
some time remembering something you've tried to forget,
some wrong that has been done to you. Remember,
think, feel, understand and then forgive.
offers a collection of stories on dealing with
life's difficulties. His intent is to pass on what
others have learned in order to live happily. The
prescriptions are evident in the chapter titles:
"Family Matters," "Children,
Creation, & the Voice of God," "Loving
Yourself," "Loving Others,"
"Thriving in Bad Times," "Surviving
Good Times," and, finally, "Prescriptions
for Living." The personal anecdotes and
touching stories come from Siegel's experiences as a
surgeon and lecturer and from his own searching.