Freedom in Forgetting

Kids are so resilient. I can’t count how many times I have lost it with my children and have had to go back and apologize again for raising my voice or being overly harsh. I keep expecting to hear “No mommy, I don’t forgive you cause you just keep doing it.” But they’ve never said that to me. In fact, it’s almost like they have this innate ability to forget – like they’re too young to carry the weight of unforgiveness. I say “almost” because there was one time when our family was at a restaurant on vacation and this kind elderly lady approached me to say “You have such a lovely family,” to which my daughter Hannah replied, “Mommy sometimes yells at daddy.”

Dogs can be even more forgiving than young children. The other day I took my irritability out on Jase, our Labrador, yanking his lease a little too hard and yelling at him to give up the shoe and go to his kennel. After I calmed down and let him back out, he jumped up on my lap and licked my face as though nothing had happened.

What would life look like if we were as forgiving and resilient as dogs or young children? Maybe we would see each other how God sees us instead of how Satan defines us.

Satan, the “accuser of the brethren” remembers all of our sins and uses our loved ones to remind us of all our failures and short-comings. His goal is to keep us stuck in our past so that we can’t move forward into the life God has designed us to live. God, on the other hand, chooses to remember our sins no more, sees our potential and defines us through the lens of Jesus – victorious and holy. Hebrews 8:12 says, “For I will forgive all their wickedness and remember their sins no more.”

The fixation of our eyes directs action – not only in us but in others. The more we are fixated on our failures the more our mistakes will define us. Likewise, the more we remind others of their mistakes, the harder it is for them to become the people they want to be. However, the more we fixate our eyes on Jesus (not on our successes, but on Him) the more we will become like him. Similarly the more we forgive and forget the past mistakes of others, believing the best, the more we inspired them to become better people. After all, the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. However, God’s kindness leads to repentance. (Rom.2:4, James 1:20)

As far as I see it we have two choices: to be the advocate of Satan or the advocate of Jesus. Beings Satan’s advocate feels satisfying and fair. But it leaves us full of anger and deadly bitterness. Being the advocate of Jesus can feel unfair because it is unfair. Why should those that have hurt us be the benefactor of our grace? Why should our enemies receive our love? Why should we refrain from retaliation or from defending ourselves when we’ve been hypocritically accused of the very thing that is causing us pain? But who are we that we deserve God’s kindness? Who are we that we should be called children of God? Wasn’t it our sin that brought Him pain? Did He not stand silently in front of Pilot being falsely accused, refusing to defend Himself, and then with his dying breath cry out “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” ?

This song says it so well:

How deep the Father’s love for us
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the Chosen One
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the man upon a cross
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

God will often use the unmerited grace of my 3-year-old to remind me of His love, melt my heart, and inspire me to be a better mommy. Several times, when I’ve been crying as a result of totally getting wrapped up in my flesh and lashing out at my husband or kids, my sweet daughter Hannah will ask me, “Mommy, can I sing to you?”

What would the world look like if we all chose to love like that? Forgiving like little children, forgetting past mistakes like dogs, or loving like Jesus? Maybe our souls would feel lighter, hearts would melt, lives would be healed, relationships restored, and the world could catch a glimpse of Jesus and the way He designed us to live.

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