Q. I believe in forgiveness even if an apology hasn’t been extended. How do I respond, without sounding pompous, to people who say they can forgive someone’s offense but they’ll never “forget”. I believe if we don’t let it go and forget it, we haven’t really forgiven and therefore still carry a burden of unforgiveness in our heart.
A. I think for the most part we can forget the sins committed against us, but I don’t think this can happen until after we’ve forgiven the person responsible. Therefore, the person who says, “I can forgive but I’ll never forget” will eventually forget about the offense.
However, some things are beyond forgetting even after genuine forgiveness has been extended. For example, it would be pretty difficult to forget how we became disfigured or suffered a permanent disability. Likewise how could we forget that we’ve been divorced or that a child has been taken from us?
Forgiveness is a choice God expects us to make even when we don’t feel like it, because He forgave us when we didn’t deserve it (Matt. 18:23-35). By repeatedly making the choice to forgive, our feelings will eventually align with our choices, and even if we remember the offense we will bear no ill will toward the person responsible.
Therefore I think under normal circumstances we should assume that the person who says, “I can forgive but I’ll never forget” is still forgiving by choice and waiting for their feelings to catch up. That being the case, he or she deserves our support, not our criticism.