Forgive and Forget

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Recently I was challenged on my idea of forgiving and forgetting.

Many people believe that it is impossible to forget an offence, even though you forgive someone, but I believe we are called to not only forgive, but to forget. There is scientific evidence that says forgetting is possible. Although referring to science seems to go against faith, the idea is not based on one or the other, but on both. God is the God of everything. Not only did He create science, but everything science studies. Science is about truth, just as God is about truth. Therefore, they are completely compatible.

I can’t find a scripture verse that says to ‘forgive and forget,’ and that doesn’t sound good, considering that I’m putting forth a premise which says you can; but if I’ve learned anything about God and His Word, it’s that you only find a part of Him on the black and white of the page. To find the rest of Him, you have to look underneath the words and read between the lines. That’s where I found out that I could forget offences: Truly forgiving will lead to forgetting.

Unless you have a lobotomy, you cannot erase a memory, but you can hide an offence from your memory by covering it with good.

Misplace it

How many times have you forgotten where you left your car keys? If you’re anything like me, you’ve done that many times. They did not disappear from your memory – you’re looking for them, so you know they’re there – you just can’t see them. One of your kids walk in and toss their hat on top of the keys, so now unless you consciously move the hat, you’ll have a hard time finding them. Remember, you know where the keys are – you are the one who left them on the ledge in the first place.

Another example is being in debt. Thankfully Darrell and I aren’t there anymore – yahoo! But in the days of bad debt, I hated opening the mail. So I wouldn’t. I’d toss the unopened bill into a drawer in the kitchen, and shut it in there. I took action because I didn’t want to be reminded of the debt. Although that was a totally wrong application, the principal was right: Out of sight, out of mind.

The Protection of Covering

“Above all things have intense and unfailing love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins [forgives and disregards the offenses of others].” 1 Peter 4:8

“Never return evil for evil or insult for insult (scolding, tongue-lashing, berating), but on the contrary blessing [praying for their welfare, happiness, and protection, and truly pitying and loving them]. For know that to this you have been called, that you may yourselves inherit a blessing as heirs, bringing welfare and happiness and protection].” 1 Peter 3:9

Who? The word cover means: to cover up a thing, to hinder the knowledge of a thing. We are trying to hinder the knowledge of the offences of others. But from whom? From whom are we trying to hide the offence? The only thing I can hide from God by Christ’s blood is my own sin. I can’t use the blood of Christ to hide someone else’s sin from God. Only they can do that.

I hide the offence that was done to me … from me.

Why? I need to protect myself … from myself. Our brains are not wired for evil: insults, scolding, tongue-lashing, or berating. They are wired for love: blessing, welfare, happiness, protection, and pitying others. We are created without the mental biology for hate. Every thought we think is seared into our brain and becomes a physical part of it, a process called neuroplasticity.

We are created to create.

We have been given the power to choose how to wire our brains, and given the capacity to do it. God set before us life and death, blessing and curse, and then He told us to choose life so that we will live. (Deut. 30:19)

How?

Science has proved:

  • that every single thought carries an emotion
  • inside every emotion there is a pocketful of chemicals
  • the chemicals inside all emotions are responsible for how the brain grows

We can’t choose to remember a bad thought (memory of an offence against us) without receiving the consequences of those thoughts (the toxic chemicals which come with the thoughts).

Good thoughts carry good emotions, and produce a healthy mixture of chemicals that create a healthy brain. Bad thoughts carry bad emotions, and produce a toxic mixture of chemicals that create an unhealthy brain. This is nature. This is science. This is how the human brain works, and there is no way to avoid it.

The key is wanting to

Science has shown the way our thoughts affect our brains. God created us this way so that we could have a choice over ourselves. We don’t get the benefits from the healthful chemicals by forgiving because God tells us we have to – we only get those benefits when we forgive because we want to. Forgiving because we have to is acting according to religion, but forgiving because we want to is acting in the love described in 1 Peter 4:8. When you cover the offence with love – the good memories of good things – you actually starve the bad memory of the attention it needs in order to grow.

magic trees

In this image, Dr. C. Leaf is pointing to a toxic memory. Using advancements in technology, we can actually see the difference between the good trees and the bad ones. The process of remembering an offence causes the toxic chemicals associated with that memory to be released into the brain. Continuing to think and mediate on it makes the tree grow and become stronger, and it releases more and more toxic chemicals… which continue to grow the tree while you continue to think toxic thoughts.

However, if you choose to think of the positive things that person has done, you are choosing to release the healthful chemicals that will cover that memory, shrinking the bad tree and growing good ones. You conquer evil with good every single time you choose NOT to meditate on the offence done to you and instead focus on “…whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honourable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things [fix your minds on them].” –Phil 4:8

We can’t stop thinking about something if we continue to think about it – “I forgive my husband for doing X to me. I forgive my husband for doing X to me.  I forgive my husband for doing X to me.” etc. See how many times I have to mention X? The very act of trying to forgive without replacing that bad memory with a good one causes you to focus on the offence, which actually strengthens the memory with toxic chemicals. You have to forgive, and then follow through with GOOD thoughts. More good thoughts lead to more good chemicals, which in turn puts more blanketing over the offence.

Just like the keys that were hidden and the bill that I chose to hide, an offence can be:

out of sight … OUT OF MIND

This is why I said that you can’t forget unless you want to. To find the keys or the bill, I’m going to have to make a conscious choice to purposely dig through what’s covering either of them. So in order to get back to that offence (X) done to me, I’m going to have to consciously NOT choose good, thereby digging through all the good I’ve already put there and pulling that offence back to the surface. I have to choose to uncover it… and not forgive and forget.

There has been plenty of research done by many doctors in this field. Dr. Leaf just happens to be the one from whom I first learned it. I like the way she has simplified the understanding of the scientific workings of the brain, I find her delivery system of that information easy to digest, and her heavy South African accent makes her enjoyable to listen to.

Wives, run your race to win. 1 Corinthians 9:24

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When all esle fails …

 

make it work

Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening].

1 Corinthians 13:7

I WILL:

  • cover you in protection while we figure this out
  • believe that God can be trusted with this
  • wait in full confidence and expectation from God
  • remain with you and not move on without you

The enemy wants you to devour your husband

- fight back with love.

 

Moisture or drought?

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Moist or dry?

Moisture is like love: it gives life.  Love frees and encourages others to develop.  Does my husband’s soul feel watered when he’s around me?  After he’s been with me, does he feel strengthened to grow and safe to develop?  Does God’s love flow freely through me doing the work He meant it to, like the water cycle does?

And the best of the three is love. -1 Cor 13:13

But if we love one another, God abides (lives and remains) in us and His love(that love which is essentially His) is brought to completion (to its full maturity, runs its full course, is perfected) in us! -1 John 4:12

God extravagantly pours His love down on me in all of His grace and mercy so that I can extravagantly pass it on to water others for growth.  Am I doing the work of watering my husband? Is he free to be himself as he grows up in the Lord, errors and omissions included?  Or is his soul parched, stunted and thirsty for freedom?

Lack of moisture means drought

Am I drying up his soul, slowly killing it by withholding the moisture through my words and actions?

In the earlier part of our marriage I was a wife that caused a drought.  It was an awful place to live. Measuring my sin against Darrell’s caused me to blind myself to my own, therefore believing he was undeserving of my moisture.  The love that would have freed him to grow was the very thing I held back, causing hurt in the marriage, him, and me.

Drought = dysfunction & disunity

I challenge you to ask yourself:  If your husband was asked to describe you, would he say you are moisture or drought to his soul?

 

“By judging others we blind ourselves to our own evil and to the grace which others are just as entitled to as we are.”  – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

 

 

Hurtful people are FULL of hurt

TREErings

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When a tree experiences a crisis of drought or infestation of some kind, it doesn’t stop growing.  Hidden by the bark, these occurrences go undetected, and for the most part, the tree looks … normal.  Not until you get a look inside at the tree rings can you see any damage, although sometimes the damage is so severe that the whole direction of the tree changes or you get a branch that grows crooked.  But generally, quietly, sitting under the surface is the reason.  Nature has been designed to compensate for assaults and the tree just keeps on growing.

Wounds of our bodies

Our bodies have also been created to keep on growing.  In fact, our bodies possess amazing restorative powers, so amazing that a broken bone will begin repairing itself immediately, even if it’s not set right.

Cuts or bruises, swollen, burned or broken – wounds to the outer person – are easy enough to detect.  But the inner person, that’s a little more difficult.  Sometimes they don’t show up until there is safety or at least familiarity in a relationship – and that could take many years.

Wounds of our souls

Ever wonder why sometimes the little things you say or do set your husband off?  It could be that you’ve inadvertently poked a wound.  Some wounds are near the surface and some sit much deeper, but all are safely hidden – unexposed – beneath the outer man.

Like a bruise hidden by clothing, a wound in the soul only shows itself when it’s touched. Unless our wounds have been healed at the root by Jesus Christ, they either remain open and raw or we try to heal them ourselves – but we set them wrong and they heal ‘crooked.’

Touching an emotional wound will cause a knee-jerk reaction from pain, just like when you touch someone’s physical wound, and it won’t be pretty.

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We touch each other

In his book, The Sacred Romance, John Eldredge captures roots for some of these wounds in what he calls, “The message of the arrows.”  We react instead of respond to each other when we are in the midst of having our old wounds pierced again, and our reactions are generally negative and harmful.  Our intent is not to hurt the ones we love – it’s a reaction.

I believe this is why we are advised to assume the best in everyone because assuming the best enables us to still love – it enables the mercy that is needed to cover sin.  Hurting people hurt people.  Husbands react instead of respond… just like wives do.

Sometimes our spouse will subtly withdraw from us instead of lashing out, but either way you feel it – an attack, an offence. It could be that you’ve pushed your finger into a wound that you didn’t know existed – heck, maybe he didn’t even know it was there. This feeling we have is what God wants us to cover with love.

1 Corinthians 13/2

God says some hard stuff sometimes, and when you apply His words to marriage… well, I find them to be rather twitchy, don’t you? I mean, God can’t mean: love covers a multitude of sins, unless it’s your husband’s sin.

I used to think that it was just too much for God to ask of a wife.  You want me to just stand here and let him do and say whatever he wants with no regard to how it affects me?  He can just go along his la-la-la way with no consequences to his actions?

No – And, Yes.

What if … Love enables a husband to heal?

What if… it means that love covers a multitude of sin that has been done to my husband!?  What if it covers the wounds from arrow after arrow provoked by Satan to tear him apart?

What if the love that I give covers a multitude of sin - just like Christ’s love through His blood covers a multitude of my sin?

Love doesn’t cover to hide wrong doing from God, because in truth the only thing that can cover sin from God‘s sight is Christ‘s blood.  This is, in essence, what it means to be regenerated.  First I acknowledge that only Christ can get me there – He is my bridge to God.  Then I begin my journey of healing!  Some call it Salvation and Sanctification.  Whatever terms you use, there are two parts.  It doesn’t mean you become perfect (conformed to Christ) in an instant just because you accept Christ (1st part).  It means you admit that you are not perfect and are going to allow God to fix what needs fix’n – the healing of your soul (2nd part).

What if… love covers his sin in my eyes, so that God has a direct path to my husband’s heart that is not obstructed by my attitudes of self-defence and self-avenging?

What if… my love covers his sinful reaction to my poking his wound, and God gets to the root of that wound (the part only He can see) and actually heals it instead of just stopping the reactionary (sinful) behaviour that I pray for God to change in him?

What if…

love covering a multitude of sin is not about me changing my husband into everything I think he should be; but allowing God the freedom to heal him into the brother He knows he can be?

What if…

my love is like the bark of a tree, providing the cover of the dents and groves shown in his rings from a lifetime of assault, so that there is a safe place for healing to happen?  Instead of being the one that possibly hinders the healing or causes more assaults.

 
 

“When I pray for another person, I am praying for God to open my eyes so that I can see that person as God does, and then enter into the stream of love that God already directs toward that person.” -Philip Yancey

Stay and dance

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But if you do marry, you do not sin [in doing so], and if a virgin marries, she does not sin [in doing so].  Yet those who marry will have physical and earthly troubles, and I would like to spare you that. -1 Cor 7:28

…Yet those who marry will have physical and earthly troubles

…physical and earthly troubles

troubles

 

 

 

Possible mines that blow apart a marriage

Oppression

Affliction

Suffering

Distress

Straits

Anguish

In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]!  For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.] –John 16:33

Into the deep

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Remember swimming as a kid?  You stretched out your leg to touch bottom … and it wasn’t there!  Maybe your eyes got wide with fear and you felt that instant panic start to whirl in your gut!  It was terrifying, if only for a brief moment, until you regained your footing.

He said, Come! So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water, and he came toward Jesus. -Matthew 14:29

Jesus invited Peter to do what was impossible — walk on water.  Peter, a seasoned fisherman!  He’d just worked all night and came up empty – he knew that he knew that he knew, there just aren’t any fish there.  (Luke 5:4-5)

In both cases Jesus told Peter to do what seemed impossible and what was impossible.

Jesus invited Peter to trust.  Jesus invites us to trust.  Step into the unknown.  Step deep, where you don’t know what will happen.  Step deep, where there is nothing underneath you.  Step deep where your fear will well up in you.

REALITIES ABOUT STEPPING INTO THE DEEP

It’s Risky

So please tell them you are my sister.  Then they will spare my life and treat me well because of their interest in you. -Genesis 12:13

Sarah had a decision to make; a forced decision.  Not due to anything she had done, but because of how beautiful God had created her.  Abraham had enjoyed that beauty so long as it was good for him, but as soon as it became a liability, he sold her out.  Because of Abraham‘s fear and tendency to lie under pressure (it happened twice), he asked her to sacrifice herself rather than sacrificing himself.  Sarah chose to risk.  There will be risk when you put the needs of your spouse ahead of your own.

It’s Radical

Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone.  If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody.  Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do.  “I’ll do the judging,” says God.  “I’ll take care of it.”   Our Scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he’s thirsty, get him a drink.  Your generosity will surprise him with goodness.  Don’t let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good. -Romans 12:17-21

We all know what Jesus is saying here, we just don’t like what it means and how it will make us look, especially when it‘s applied to marriage.

A deep step will cause you to appear different from those around you.  I don’t mean you’ll look like a religious ‘geek’ or a throw-back from the 1950/60s.  There is a love that the world won’t allow but it will show up in your relationships.  It will supernaturally funnel its way through you like it did with Jesus.  Radical mercy doesn’t fight for its own rights.  Radical grace is about others, not self.  Radical love doesn’t consider how it was wronged, only about how others are going to be hurt by God’s revenge, “Father, forgive them; they don’t know what they’re doing.” -Luke 23:34.  It will look radical when consider your spouse ahead of yourself.

It’s Counter-intuitive

And when those who belonged to Him (His kinsmen) heard it, they went out to take Him by force, for they kept saying, He is out of His mind (beside Himself, deranged)!   And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, He is possessed by Beelzebub, and, By [the help of] the prince of demons He is casting out demons. -Mark 3:21-22

The deep you step into will feel crazy and people will back up this notion.  To your human senses it’s unpreserved and unprotected.  The ones closest to you will appeal to your sense of self-protectiveness.  People will say you are crazy and not hearing from God; but Satan.  It’s the voice of the world, not the Spirit, that says choose self.  It will feel counter-intuitive to choose your spouse over yourself.

The Outcome is Unknown

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.  Hebrews 11:1

If we knew the outcome beforehand, we wouldn’t need faith.  The deep we step into will always be a weakness and that’s what scares us.  Like standing in a lit room when the lights go out; engulfed in darkness, there’s no way to tell what the outcome will be, only God knows.  Being blind in the natural strengthens your confidence in God.

God Knows What Your Deep is

The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience.  And God is faithful.  He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand.  When you are tempted, He will show you a way out so that you can endure.  -1 Corinthians 10:13

Everyone’s deep is different because we are all growing from different places in our relationship with God.  Our deep feels deep because it is weak.  Those particular faith muscles are small, but will be bigger and stronger after you step into the deep.  We miss-step and fall and God knows that, that’s why Jesus is there!  On the water with the waves that toss and threaten to overtake the boat.  See here where Peter was invited to walk!

Peter’s storm can be a metaphor of what it might feel like inside ourselves during a turbulent circumstance or relational crisis.  And the more chop there is, the greater the temptation is to try and escape.  To run back to the boat … away from Jesus.  If the choice is to leave the ’storm’ and run back to the boat of protection, a way to endure is not needed – God is not needed.

When troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.  For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.  So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. -James 1:2-4

 

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Enough to spare

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“ …[and] that you do so even more and more abundantly …” – Paul

Paul uses that phrase twice in this part of 1 Thess 4.  Once in the first verse:  more and more, and then again in verse ten:  more and moreIn both cases he’s referring to abundant love.  I’m guessing it’s pretty important and that’s why he repeated it, so I wanted to dig a little deeper, and I found out what he was getting at!

Our love is to be:

  • beyond measure
  • superabundant in quantity
  • superior in quality
  • excelling
  • exceeding
  • increasing

But as I was reading the definitions from the Greek, this – this one is the one that jumped out at me:

  •  enough and to spare

Ok, what is spare – what does it look like?  How do we see, enough and to spare?

Good grief, God shows me spare and I sit waiting for some terrific revelation and all I can think of is a Jeep; how super spiritual of me.

What do tires have to do with love?

Hmmmm, just can’t shake the image of a Jeep.  But then I realize what’s on the back of the Jeep? … A spare!  -and finally … the dots connect!

That spare is so important, it has to be there for when you need it otherwise you’re stuck.  We drive on four tires but when trouble comes and a tire change is needed; it’s the spare tire that really counts.  The spare tire is pulled out in crisis.  When one of the other tires fail, the spare picks up the slack!

It’s easy to let love spill onto nice easy going people; it‘s almost expected – where‘s the crisis when it‘s all good?  People that never say or do the wrong thing to you – they never slight, hurt or offend.  So if you are surrounded by ’yes’ people you never need that love that is enough and to spare because you’ll never find yourself dealing with conflict.

Marriage is a vehicle to carry you where you need to go grow. 

Sometimes on this journey we run into crisis and we’re forced to the side of the road.  At times it’s in the way of a small tear or a large rip and occasionally it’s an absolute blow-out.

It doesn’t matter the size or how it happened, you’ll still find yourself stranded on the side of the road.  Whose got the spare and will set it in place so the journey will continue … who’s got the love … enough and to spare?

Tire failures happen in all relationships, but the most painful blow-outs occur in marriage ~ are you carrying your spare?  Or will you just leave the vehicle abandoned on the side of the road.

If you learn from defeat, you haven’t really lost. -Zig Ziglar