For centuries, Vietnam has been repeatedly invaded. The Chinese, the Champa, the French, the Japanese and, most recently, the Americans.
You might imagine that the Vietnamese would harbour resentment towards their invaders, yet without fail, the people with whom I have spoken over recent weeks are looking forward rather than back. Their focus is on working hard to build a prosperous future for themselves and their families. It doesn't mean the past is forgotten, but forgiveness is a gift to yourself, first and foremost. It enables you to move on.
I am reminded of the words of Paul Boese, that while forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.
Stuff happens. That's life. How much we hang on to what has happened determines where we go to next.
Forgiveness is easy to say and harder to do, so how do you know when you've really forgiven? Quite simply, when you no longer need to tell the story of what happened. Telling the same thing over and over, rehearses and embellishes the hurt. Choosing not to tell is quite different to forgetting. It frees you to focus on what you can control and look ahead to a far better future.