"forgive and forget", "get over it", "let go", "move on", carry one another's burdens, forgiveness, hurtful memories, hurting people, inner healing, many Christians' insensitivity, memory banks, minds, well-meaning advice
Giving advice is taking upon ourselves the role of a superior. Often, it is selfishly inflicting our opinion on a vulnerable person. And it is usually being judgmental. It is considering people to be ignorant – and so we think they need our hallowed wisdom to enlighten them. And it is usually judging them of sin, prayerlessness, lack of faith, not praising God enough, or some other failure such that we imagine they need us to instruct them to change. ~ Grantley Morris
What life has taught this writer is that the most agonizing aspect of a hurtful situation or a painful trial is the insensitivity that manifests through the well-meaning remarks of advice given by fellow believers who are wanna be advisers. Some tactless believers just do not understand how Satan uses their well-meaning yet ineffective nuggets of advice, remarks like “let go,” “move on,” “get over it,” or even “forgive and forget,” as salt poured in open wounds. Indeed, more often than not some well-meaning remarks of advice only awaken the salty bitterness and red-hot anger in hurting people, whenever they perceive the advice about their hurtful and painful memories as being insensitive.
Therefore, what Christian wanna be advisers should know, first and foremost, is that some of their words of advice hurt just as much as sticks and stones! Secondly, Christian wanna be advisers need to know that most hurting people cannot just “let go” of their past, and they need to know that they should NOT be telling hurting people to even try to let go of memories that are stored in the brain. For this reason, even though hurting people might be able to “move on,” the pain of the past ALWAYS remains with them in their minds, which is why Christian wanna be advisers telling hurting people to “get over it” or “forgive and forget” only add more emotional pain!
Concerning forgiveness, Christian wanna be advisers need to know that just because someone recalls and speaks about hurtful and/or devastating events, this act doesn’t mean that every offended person has not forgiven the offender. Likewise, remembering hurtful and/or devastating events also doesn’t mean that it’s painful for him or her to remember those events. To think that some people are not healed if they continue to remember said events is ridiculous—almost as ridiculous as believing God can’t or doesn’t remember our sins anymore. The Divine Truth is that God hasn’t erased our sins from His “memory banks.” Instead, He purposely has chosen not to throw our sins back in our faces, by using them against us! This Divine Truth is what the Scriptures mean about God not remembering our sins anymore.
Therefore, humans not remembering hurtful and/or devastating past events is by no means the same as humans FORGETTING them ABSOLUTELY. As already mentioned, the offenses have been recorded/stored in the brain, which works like a computer, so if God hasn’t erased the hurting person’s memories, then there is no way he or she will ever FORGET his or her hurts and pains ABSOLUTELY. Moreover, to God, not remembering means NOT pretending that the hurts and pains never happened, which is what most Christian advisers and Christian and non-Christian offenders are asking the offended persons to do in order to prove that they are healed. As N.T. Wright says:
forgiveness is looking hard at the fact that it [the hurt/pain] did [happen] and making a conscious choice—a decision of the moral will—to set it aside so that it doesn’t come as a barrier between us. In other words, forgiveness presupposes that the thing which happened was indeed evil and it cannot simply be set aside as irrelevant. ~ Men of Integrity
Therefore, the only possible way to not remember hurtful and/or devastating past events is for the hurting person to make a conscious effort to avoid bringing up hurtful and painful memories again and again, for the purpose of using those memories against the people who caused the hurts and pains! This is genuine forgiveness—the same kind of forgiveness that God extends to believers who have repented their sins.
Let there be no doubt about it! God indeed knows believers’ hearts, but what this writer has found to be true is that the problem with most advice givers (whether Christians or non-Christians) is that they don’t always know their own hearts! That’s why much heartache could be avoided in the Body of Christ if believers knew how to embrace the hurt or pain of others (cf. Romans 12:15; 1 Corinthians 12:26; and Galatians 6:2) instead of feeling obliged to speak words of wisdom or quote Scriptures to hurting people. Speaking words of wisdom or quoting Scriptures often is NOT what hurting people are hoping to receive from loving, sensitive, and mature believers.
Lastly, without a doubt, people hurting from painful past memories need inner healing, and this inner healing is a God-given miracle. Even though it is fine for people to seek deliverance from their painful past memories, Christian wanna be advisers should know that God heals when He wants, the way He wants, and at the speed He wants. So, if someone isn’t healed instantaneously or according to some believers’ timetables, then Christian wanna be advisers should take their lack of healing issue up with God and stop trying to dictate to hurting people when, in what manner, and how quickly they should get healed—and stop trying to blame hurting people’s hurt and pain on their lack of faith, and so forth! Instead, believers should “…mourn with those who mourn” (Romans 12:15b) and, like Simon the Cyrenian, carry “…each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2, NIV). The “law of Christ” is advising, comforting, or strengthening one another in love.