Forgiveness is one of those things in our society that we really gloss over. Something horrible happens to us, and if we’re are lucky we have deep friends who are there by our side, willing to listen to us – for as long as we need – as we find forgiveness for those who’ve done us wrong. (I am so grateful to have friends like this).
But many aren’t that lucky. Some get a 3 month grace period from family and friends, after a major divorce, severe betrayal or a death, and after that they get the trite and cliche phrases of “let it go” “get over it” and “suck it up”. This may shut people up, but it is unhelpful in the long run. It actually shuts down the process leading to forgiveness. Our society can seem allergic to emotions, trying to rid ourselves of them as soon as possible, but humans don’t work like that. Forgiveness is inefficient and time consuming. But, totally, totally worth it.
Yet, even in the best of situations, surrounded by good friends and having time to process the losses, most of us don’t have very good examples of what forgiveness is. All the stories in all the world focus on overcoming the obstacles, getting the girl, and perhaps getting revenge. Anger is powerful, and it’s easier to blame and slay your enemy. But Hollywood movies and popular stories don’t go into how forgiveness is given, or the long, slow process it can take to construct it.
So, in my own path to forgiveness, I have created this flow chart in an attempt to understand it. Perhaps it is incomplete, perhaps it is misunderstood, but it is an attempt to know what forgiveness actually means beyond the pithy, emotionless sayings. Forgiveness is different for all of us, and for each situation. It would be easy and wonderful if it was a straight line, but I have never experienced it as such. This displays a better version of what I know forgiveness to be – what I have witnessed, what I have experienced.
I hope it makes sense to you, and if you have anything to add, please add a comment and I will update it!