Forgive and surrender; forgive and remember

I hadn’t seen her in about fifteen years, but last Saturday morning, we picked up right where we’d left off. Our family’s departure from the church we’d both attended and our subsequent move to WI pushed our once-active friendship into a dormant state. I was so surprised to click on an e-mail from her a couple of months ago. “I found this old e-mail address from you and thought I’d try it,” she’d written. I could hardly believe it when I saw her name – and, after a few e-mail exchanges updating one another on the headlines of our lives, we decided to meet for a cup of coffee.

The phrase “picking up where we left off” could be applied to the conversation in a very literal sense. Our first topic of conversation, after showing one another current pix of our respective families, was the church at which we’d worshiped together so many years ago. (A bit of that story can be found in my first book in the chapter entitled “Dangerous Safety: How To Be A Lifeguard With Two Broken Arms”.) It seemed we needed to share our experiences of the pain of leaving that close-knit but dysfunctional congregation before we could move into the present together. Neither of us had known the other’s story, and it was simultaneously sad and affirming to find that we’d both traveled similar emotional terrain as we limped away from the church.  

I shared this story with another friend, who offered a beautiful insight:

“I can imagine the conversation with your friend would be akin to war buddies comparing their scars after so many years and remembering the circumstances under which they happened … not something you think about every day, but there nonetheless, and you are changed by it … and when vets get together, it would be bound to come up.”

I believe that “forgive-and-forget” is a false paradigm. If we allow God to do His work in the pain, He will heal our wounds, but leave us with the scars in order to form wisdom in our souls. If we forget, we can not enter into the pain of another further down the road to be used by God as balm to begin to bring His healing to them. “Forgive and surrender; forgive and remember” are the twin realities that honor God’s work in the war wounds of my life.

Do you agree? Or have you experienced a true “forgive-and-forget” experience? 

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