Why can’t people forget after I apologize?
The friend I hurt with my sinful actions seems to have forgiven me. But he can’t forget. What’s wrong?
Nothing’s wrong. I need to remember that human beings are not machines. When we hurt each other, it cuts deeply, and deep cuts leave scars. I can’t expect my friend who has forgiven my wrong to delete all memory of that wrong from his mind automatically. People just don’t work that way.
But there are some things I can expect. I can expect that, if he has truly forgiven me, my friend will not keep bringing up my offense. That would not be in keeping with God’s advice in the Bible: “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Colossians 3:13). I can expect that my friend forgives me, even if he cannot forget right away.
I also can expect—and here’s the best part—that God has completely forgiven my sin. There is no offense of mine that Jesus left unpaid. He took my guilt upon himself and removed it forever.
Even though the sin is gone, the consequences may remain. It’s going to take a while for my friend to rebuild his trust in me after the way I hurt him. I need to give him time. But I also need to try my best to help him trust me again. That means showing the love God has for me by helping my friend, building him up, and forgiving him as I have been forgiven.