Forgiveness isn’t simple or easy, but it’s possible. I have no plug-in formula that guarantees one-and-done results. Forgiveness is a process. We choose it once, but that choice is rarely an end point. It’s a turning point, claiming our commitment to authentic healing, reflection, and next steps.
Forgiveness might be the most common topic people who know my Fractured Into Wholeness experience want to discuss with me. How could I forgive such betrayal and dishonesty? How do I know I have forgiven? What does that forgiveness look like? Do I ever struggle?
I’m careful with my answers, because (1) I have chosen forgiveness, and (2) I am still forgiving. I never want anyone to think their process needs to look like my process. I hope others can streamline my experiences. I also hope they give themselves as much time as needed.
Some forgiveness helps a relationship, but sometimes that’s not possible. Relationships require more than one person; forgiveness does not. Healthy forgiveness always co-exists with authentic reflection and safe boundaries. Forgiveness never stagnates, yet it’s stabilizing. It provides sure footing in shaky situations.
One comment I often hear from people reflecting on their own experiences is, “I thought I had forgiven until…” then they tell me about an unsettling interaction, compounding infraction, disturbing memory, or another triggering moment. And they question the validity of their forgiveness. There’s nothing wrong with that; it’s part of the forgiveness process. But the cup of forgiveness makes a difference.
If we empty as much baggage and hurt as possible as we experience it, our cup remains fairly empty. It’s difficult to empty it altogether, and we cannot simply hide or ignore what is adding to the volume, but our commitment to authentic reflection identifies what could potential fill the cup. Once identified, we decide what to do with—and the healthiest choice is to acknowledge it, define it, and purify it. Determine the lessons and the healing to keep. Get rid of the poison. And if we don’t? It accumulates. We can manage as long as it’s below the brim, but what happens when just a few more drops are added? It can be the smallest of memories or new infractions. If we’ve kept our cup as empty as possible, we can handle a few drops, and deal with them with minimal disruption and escalation. But if we have been containing too much, those few some drops with douse us.
Take inventory of what’s in your cup. Because it will influence what happens next—in your current situation and in the future.