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Forgive and forget is something I was always told to do from childhood up. It is something that we are expected to do, but like many things in life, it is easier said than done! My family and I have lived among a tribal society since 2005, and over the years living full-time in the village with my nearest neighbor’s hut just a stone’s throw away, you could say that my family and I have pretty much integrated into the tribe. In many ways, at times unbeknownst to us, their culture has slowly seeped into our lives—and I sometimes wonder now if we are more tribal or more western.
Our remote village existence is cut off from the modern world with many of its niceties and luxuries. Here in the bush, sometimes life is difficult, and there is no easy fix or quick solution to a sudden upset in the normally quiet life. The pangs of hunger and cold, the sting of debilitating sickness, the sour smell of festering sores, the bombardment by flies and pests—these are some of the hardships faced. But these difficulties are often balanced by the joy of family, the peace of a warm fire, a roof to keep the rain off, and a steaming hot sweet potato.
In the village setting, life revolves slowly but death can come surprisingly quickly. For this reason, I believe, our tribal friends seem to keep a short list of the wrongs against them, and, in many cases, they are quick to forgive and forget. If someone is wronged, he is quick to make a big deal about it. Shouting and yelling will probably result, but by the morning they will have blown out all their steam and are back in the hut together laughing about some news that just came.
Forgive and forget—what a great way to live! I have learned this from my tribal brothers and I too want to be quick to forgive and forget. After all, didn’t Jesus command us to do just that? In Matthew 18:21–22 we read, “Then Peter came to him and said, ‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you, up to seven times, but seventy times seven.’”
Let us all learn from the great example of my tribal friends. Life is short and there is no time to waste stewing over past wrongs done to us. May we keep short accounts of the wrongs done against us, be quick to forgive others, and when we do forgive, may we forgive completely—to the point of forgetting.
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