Forgive and Forget: I’m not so good at that.

by Brandi Lytle
Photo of a group of people who are blurry walking along a fall pathway on Forgive and Forget: I'm not so good at that on Not So Mommy..., a childless blog

Forgive and forget.  It’s the right thing to do, yes?  The “Christian thing.”  After all, that’s how we get into Heaven.  God not only forgives our sins, but He forgets them, as well.

My mom is great at this.  She forgives fully, moving forward in love, seeing the best in the person, and offering the benefit of the doubt.

My dad, on the other hand, wasn’t.  He held a grudge and could recount your faults as if they just happened yesterday.

Unfortunately, I am more like my dad with regards to this.  Although I try to forgive like my mom, I’m terrible about holding a grudge like my dad.  The forgetting…  That is the problem.

So, when someone who had hurt me deeply requested my forgiveness…  Well, my first reaction was to put up a wall, remembering the awful words that were spewed at me.  How could I possibly forget those words?  It took a lot of courage for me to cut toxic people from my life.  How could I open my heart and be vulnerable with this person again?

And then, I wondered…  Does forgive and forget mean I have to have a relationship with this person?  Can I truly forgive and yet still protect myself by avoiding future interactions?

And then, I thought, that’s certainly not what Christ does.  The entire reason for His forgiveness is so we can have an eternal relationship with Him.

Crap.  That’s really not what I want to hear right now.

My life, the acceptance of my childlessness, the redefining of momhood, the creation of my non-traditional family…  This has been so much work.  And I want to avoid the wobbles, the doubts, the negative thoughts that linger just below the surface…

And this person—forgiving this person—makes me vulnerable.  And I just don’t know if I want that.  Because it’s scary.

So, forgive and forget…  Well, I’m not so good at that.

For now, I’ll try to forgive from afar.  I’m not ready to forget.  Honestly, I don’t feel like I can.  I have to protect myself—my heart, my emotions, my balance…

Maybe I’ll be able to forgive more fully in the future.  But forget?  Truly, I’m not so good at that.

Any advice, fabulous ones?  Have you ever allowed someone who hurt you with regards to your childlessness back into your life?  How did it work out?


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Featured Photo Credit:  SkitterPhoto on Freerange

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Sandy aBeaty January 24, 2020 - 8:36 pm

There have been people over the years that have said hurtful things to me , maybe realizing they did it or not. I like that there are shades of gray and not just black and white. A phrase that was helpful for me was: forgiveness is not forgetting it’s letting go of the hurt. . This has really helped me. Iam reminded the forgiveness is something I do for me, not the other person. Sometimes it may aid in renewing a friendship, sometimes it’s letting go of the pain/ negativity of things said, and sometimes it leads to an exit sign. I recall something Joyce Meyers said, resentment is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies… I am not saying you should not protect yourself, but for myself sometimes me holding on to the pain was a way to guarantee I would not get hurt again. And as long as I have to deal with other human beings, there is a risk of being hurt . These are just my thoughts, feel free to take what you like and leave the rest. You have done so much to inspire others and discuss openly childlessness not by choice, I am grateful that I have come to meet you by our common situations. Xo ?

Brandi Lytle January 27, 2020 - 11:30 am

Sandy, thank you for taking the time to read and leave such a thoughtful comment. The quote you shared–“Forgiveness is not forgetting; it’s letting go of the hurt”–that is so powerful. As I feel I had to “let go” of what I thought life would look like in order to find joy in what I’m living, you’ve made me realize that I must also let go of hurts in order to fully move forward in joy… Thank you for this profound realization. So many hugs…

Jill July 3, 2018 - 3:10 pm

Hi Brandi,
Thank you for this post…and your web presence! You are a great role model. I found you during the CNBC webinar week.
I maybe have a different perspective about this because I (think) that I express my faith differently than you. I don’t use the word Christian to describe my beliefs. Yes, there are certainly Christ-like (think the Beatitudes) pieces, but Christian is a word that doesn’t resonate with me. Anyway…
Forgive and forget. That action is not always an “and” deal for me. I have one past friendship in my life where I have, to my core, forgiven that friend. She did the best she could at the time with her thoughts and behaviors; as did I. However, it hurts me still to think about her words and actions to me to forget them and want to try to establish friendship with her again. She was friend from junior high. I think of those school friendships as “friendships built out of geography.” Over the years I’ve asked myself, knowing how I knew her 10 yrs ago, would I as an adult seek a friendship with her? No. I wouldn’t.
I also feel like I don’t want to be in friendship with people who I feel like I need to be guarded around…because of past hurts. It feels unkind to the relationship to me to extend, but with hold-backs. I guess I just don’t want to engage in relating with that type of energy with someone…
I realize your situation is different. Your past friend is reaching out to you – mine has not. I would feel like I wanted to guard my heart and feelings. Perhaps you could have a different relationship with this person, maybe set the tone with saying you aren’t expecting this be a “pick up where we left off” situation. It sounds like where you left off wasn’t a great place for you.
Wish you calm and discernment of your feelings! Thanks for bringing this subject up. It’s an important one.

Brandi Lytle July 3, 2018 - 4:24 pm

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and your heart with me, Jill. You have given me much to think about, especially saying that forgiving doesn’t have to be an “and situation.” Perhaps I don’t have to forget. Perhaps I shouldn’t…

I like the idea you gave at the end of having a different relationship with this person. And I agree that I shouldn’t say I’m going to extend friendship if I’m going to “hold back” without telling the other person of my reservations. You are right about that being unkind.

I so appreciate your support and your willingness to write me such a thoughtful response. I am consistently in awe of how amazing our tribe is! Lots of hugs to you!

Jill July 3, 2018 - 7:54 pm

Thanks for your kind response, Brandi! I’m not sure if you would be open to this idea, but I would be interested in hearing a follow-up from you after you’ve made a decision how to progress. No judgement from me one way or another. This is such a big topic in life – beyond if you have children or not – friendships can end for a variety of reasons. I know that I can learn from others’ thoughtful and caring responses. It’s easy to proceed through life with a closed heart and mind – and go to the negative. It often is harder to be positive and open. We all can learn from each other!

On a somewhat related tangent…as I’ve reflected on my own CNBC story the #1 short summary that keeps coming to me is this: no one receives everything they want to receive in this life. No one. For example, I’d bet there are women and men on this Earth who have children and can’t launch a successful entrepreneurial business. And for them, that feels shame-filled, like they are not enough, and that others’ they know are so easily getting that business off the ground, darn it! Why can’t I?

This might be overly trite and simplified, coming from someone who hasn’t (knowingly) experienced infertility. I do ardently believe that our wants are deeply personal though and we can attach a variety of feelings and expectations to them. And unattaching from them feels like failure.

My greatest hope for heaven is that we are all made whole in the ways we dreamed of in this lifetime. 🙂

Brandi Lytle July 4, 2018 - 1:16 pm

Jill, thank you for the idea of a follow-up post. It may be a few months as I process through all of this, but I will let you and my other readers know how this situation evolves.

And I totally agree that no one’s life really turns out how they expected. My Daddy was diagnosed with colon cancer at 50 and passed away at 51. A very close friend is currently battling a terminal illness at age 40. My Grandad has Alzheimer’s. I’m quite certain none of them thought their lives would turn out like they are… We must deal with the what is, try to find the positive in life, and continue to love despite…

I am quite certain, though, that we will all be made whole in Heaven. Until then, we’ll do the best we can in our brokenness!

Sherry June 27, 2018 - 2:45 pm

It will come when it is time.

Rivqah June 27, 2018 - 1:41 pm

You’re absolutely right about only being able to find that strength through Him – we can only pour out what He’s already poured into us, after all, so being secure in our identity as beloved daughters of God is so utterly critical!

Brandi Lytle June 27, 2018 - 1:47 pm

Agreed! 🙂

Rivqah June 27, 2018 - 7:21 am

My relationship with my mother’s extended family, my geographically-closest relatives, has been strained at times. My siblings and I are now the only childless ones in our generation, and it’s easy to be made to feel less-than – not that it’s intentional, just that it’s so very natural for everyone’s focus to be on the new, younger generation, so we get pushed to the side and forgotten. A few years back, in prayer time, I was asking the Lord what the point was of expending any energy on these relationships, and the reply was immediate and almost audible: “To pour out love for them.” Practically knocked me back in my chair. Not the answer I was looking for, but so obviously His voice. It’s still hard (and this is timely, as I’ll be spending plenty of time with them next week for my grandmother’s 95th birthday festivities), but I’m working on finding ways to reach out, and they’re sometimes even reaching back, as my cousin and his wife asked my husband and me to be godparents to their two sons when they were baptized this past February. That was a huge joy!

Brandi Lytle June 27, 2018 - 10:26 am

Thank you so much for sharing this, Rivqah! I needed the reminder that the point is to “pour out love.” I’ll continue to pray that God help me with this, as I can only find this strength through Him.

I do hope your Grandma’s 95th birthday goes well and congrats on being asked to be godparents!


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