I can forgive, but I cannot forget, is another way of saying, I will not forgive.
Forgiveness ought to be like a canceled note — torn in two, and burned up, so that it never can be shown against one. — Henry Ward Beecher
Forgiveness is a complicated quality, and Beecher’s words are much like words about other qualities — a lot easier to pontificate about, than put into practice. Beecher, the brother of Harriet Beecher Stowe, the author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, must have had a few moments of wrestling with forgiveness himself. He was sued for adultery by his his former friend,Theodore Tilton, who alleged that Beecher had an affair with Tilton’s wife.
The trial resulted in a hung jury, but Beecher was later cleared of all charges before two church courts. The notoriety sparked by this event followed Beecher for the remainder of his life, but he continued to be a popular writer and lecturer.
We all wrestle with forgiveness from time to time, especially when one comes to forgiving oneself, and I’m not sure all my “notes” have been torn and burned quite yet. The most many of us can say is that we won’t ever “show it against one.” In other words, hold a wrong done to us against another.
I also think forgiveness is like Luis Leon’s words about belief. (Sorry, Luis I never get it quite right). When it comes to forgiveness, work at it as much as you can, and go as far as you can go, and that’s far enough for God.
Forgiveness is one of those unique qualities that its more about the forgiver than the forgiven. I think this morning during my meditation I have a few notes to tear in two and to burn. How about you?