The psychology of memory can explain why ‘forgiving and forgetting’ is rarely the case! Our memories are so powerful and a single experience can become entrenched in our long-term memory to the point that it becomes a cue for future expectations.
We do not have a giant USB or SD card in our brains. God designed us with such precision that even our memories leave biological footprints in our brains. Repeated experiences exist in our long-term memory due to the neural connections in our brain, and these experiences become strengthened after each one. This is likened to a dirt path which is formed by constant footsteps. For example, someone who has suffered from abuse on one occasion will have that memory of abuse strengthened or reinforced if they were to experience it again on another occasion. You can’t physically go into your brain and rewire the neural connections that have strengthened those memories over time.
That we‘ve forgiven doesn’t mean we’ve forgotten. That we’ve forgiven doesn’t mean that we can forget because in the short paragraph above, we have learnt that our memories are both biological and psychological.
So what do we do when we have forgiven but we still remember?
A true sign of forgiveness is even when you remember their faults and offences, you say in your heart and to your mind, ‘God’s grace is bigger than what you did to me and how you made me feel’. Forgiveness is you relating to someone according to their God-given identity. Forgiveness refuses to reduce people to their mistakes, shortcomings and ‘aliases’ that hide their true identity and worth. Forgiveness is a weighty call to choose honour above vengeance’.
While it would be handy to have a ‘sea of forgetfulness’ for all our negative experiences, what we can do is make a conscious effort to decide how we respond to our memories and to perhaps be intentional about forming new memories where possible. Creating new memories will do two things: it will weaken the existing neural connections in your brain from the negative experience that you had and form new neural connections for the positive experiences that you will intentionally create.
God models this formation of new memories so well. He forgives completely and He doesn’t stay angry forever. He has compassion on us ‘again’ and again. (Micah 7:18-19). It doesn’t say that Our God is never angry. We can take comfort in the fact that our emotional response to offence and hurt are normal, yet, because of this newness in Christ, our right to ‘remain’ offended dissipates. Just like our God will again have compassion on us, we too will again have compassion on others.
Kanayo is a Multi-award winning, Author and Senior leader in education whose experience ranges from being a Deputy Head of Sixth Form, Head of Psychology and Lead Practitioner. Kanayo believes that these 3 elements are the driving force of her ministry and career. D.I.G; Drive, Integrity and Grace.
Having a psychology degree provides me with a broad scope to experience many industries and fields of work. Although, my main aim is to continuously learn and also to share my knowledge and experience with others, within and beyond the constraints of the psychology community. Hence my pursuit to teach!
Hopefully, the readers of this blog will find that it is infested with a scope of psychological knowledge, with the intention of conveying psychology in such a way that it is interesting and understandable to those who aren’t studying it as a discipline. In addition, you will find that I heavily cover various topics aside of psychology such as, Christianity because I am a Christian. I draw both passions together, Psychology and Christianity, observing how they complement and sometimes clash! This blog is where ‘Psychology meets Scripture’.
As well as teaching Psychology, I know God has called me to do something far greater in this world. My passion is for His Word and to encourage others to read the Bible, fall in love with it, but most importantly…fall in love with The Author! My role of teaching is not limited to psychology. I strongly believe God is stirring up the ‘teacher’ office of the Five fold ministry in me.
I’m a doctor by virtue, healing and performing heart surgery with words of encouragement.
I am extremely driven and passionate about getting everyone; both Christians and non-Christians to read, understand and live out the word of God. To achieve this, I’ve created online Bible Challenges, whereby people around the world via social media, read a book in the Bible, one chapter a day and share what they have drawn out from the text. I have numerous Bible challenges, all accessible from my blog (www.doctorkanayo.com) and the YouVersion Bible App where over 250,000 people have completed my devotionals around the world. One Bible Challenge at a time, I aim to change the skewed perceptions of the Bible being irrelevant and to show the true reality that the bible is ‘juicy’, tremendously relevant, fun and easy to read. My one prayer is that my teachings and writings from His word, will touch at least ONE person. That would be a serious mission accomplished to the glory of God!
If you have anything you would like me to blog about, do let me know by either commenting, or contacting me via my contact form.
Thank you for visiting my blog. With love, Kanayo x
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