Forgiveness is one of the things I have not yet covered in therapy. I did, however, recently finish reading Allegiant, which made me think more about the concept. (If you have not read the Divergent series and have no clue what I’m talking about, essentially Tris [main chick] struggles with forgiving her brother for betraying her. Also, GO read the series or at least watch the movies because it’s/they’re SO good!)
Before this book, I don’t think I had a very accurate idea of what forgiveness is. Isn’t that a little weird? I was unsettled. I’m 23, and I’ve forgiven numerous people for a plethora of transgressions in my lifetime, but I don’t think I was doing it right. I mean, I told them they were forgiven, and I did my best to make that true, but I found myself still feeling angry, and hurt about whatever happened. And then I would feel guilty because I couldn’t stop it. My forgiveness felt like a lie.
In reality, my definition of forgiveness was just wrong. I thought that when you forgave somebody, it meant that you were over whatever they did to wrong you. It didn’t hurt anymore, or matter, even.
What Allegiant made me realize is that forgiveness is not a one time thing. Forgiveness is a choice you make day after day to acknowledge that a person has hurt you, and to not hold it against them. To go on maintaining a relationship with them, and to let them continue to be a part of your life.
I’ve also realized that there’s no need to feel guilty about still feeling angry, hurt, or upset sometimes. “I forgive you” is not a magic phrase that alleviates pain. It’s going to take time for those feelings to fade. It may seem like you’ll be harboring that pain forever, but you won’t be. As you go on living your life, chances are all the experiences you gather will eventually eclipse whatever was hurting you. Feelings dull over time as long as you don’t intentionally hold on to them.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that I finally understand quotes like, “Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself” (Tony Robbins). It makes sense to me now how deliberately making a choice is so freeing. I’m not completely free yet, but I’m working on it. And that makes me happy.