Forgiving does not mean forgetting. When we forgive a person, the memory of the wound might stay with us for a long time, even throughout our lives. Sometimes we carry the memory in our bodies as a visible sign. But forgiveness changes the way we remember. It converts the curse into a blessing. When we forgive our parents for their divorce, our children for their lack of attention, our friends for their unfaithfulness in crisis, our doctors for their ill advice, we no longer have to experience ourselves as the victims of events we had no control over.

Forgiveness allows us to claim our own power and not let these events destroy us; it enables them to become events that deepen the wisdom of our hearts. Forgiveness indeed heals memories.

emphasis mine


This is one of my very favorite devotions.  Here Nouwen corrects the often-repeated falsehood that says, “forgiving is forgetting.”   Neither God nor people, created in God’s image, are that stupid.  Forgiving is releasing a person, inviting him/her to freedom.   It is too important an act to associate with forgetfulness.  Forgiving is the key to happiness for the wronged and the wrongdoer.  Forgiving changes us into the kind of people we want to be. “Forgiving does not mean forgetting.” Forgetting is simply loosing track of where you put your pen.