I write fairly often about forgiveness, because it’s a conversation I find myself in repeatedly. Sometimes it has little to do with me, but often, someone turns to me to ask, “Have you forgiven your ex? And how? Did you struggle with it? How can you get over what he did? Doesn’t it still hurt or make you angry?”
The answer seems so simple yet very complicated. It’s a process.
I have forgiven my ex. It is done, an act and a choice I have completed. It’s also something I continue to do. Life continues, and as it does, there are memories, conversations, and encounters that require reflection, commitment, and constant choices. Perhaps the most important is the humility necessary to reflect on whether or not I’m being consistent with the choice, truth, and standard of forgiveness.
Forgiveness is amazing. It’s freeing and healing. But it’s important to not expect some things from forgiveness. For example, it doesn’t erase the hurt. It doesn’t surgically remove the moment in time when the chaos or trauma exploded. In some situations, when there has been honesty and humility on both sides of the hurt, the lasting effects might be minimized. But in some cases, there’s no contact, no interaction, no humility, no admission, no apology. That’s okay. Some people cannot get themselves into a humble posture because it’s too frightening, or the façade they’ve built around themselves can’t survive the admissions they’d need to make in order to attempt any sort of resolution. Part of forgiveness is making a choice to release something and someone without any conditions or cooperation, acknowledging the hurt will likely never be repaired.
Simultaneously with the release forgiveness allows is the wisdom to set boundaries for our own emotional and spiritual security and safety. The trauma has consequences to establish and maintain health. The damage might be frozen in time due to no repentance or mutual healing. The depth of disrespect might remain. None of these consequences negate or even lessen the forgiveness.
Forgiveness is much too powerful and healing to be tainted.