I wrote about how I didn’t understand forgiveness. When it comes to things as serious as major betrayal, assault, abuse, and murder, all of the cliches about forgiveness — forgive and forget, forgive but don’t forget, hate the sin but love the sinner — feel naive.
Within the context of a loving relationship, forgiveness makes sense to me. Forgiveness and reconciliation and deep love go hand in hand.
Within the context of abused and abuser — within a context where reconciliation is dangerous or not possible — forgiveness makes no sense.
A friend of mind suggested that a key component to forgiveness is empathy. It’s not reconciliation, or being an active part of your abuser’s healing, and it’s certainly not excusing or rationalizing their behavior. I guess, the way I’m thinking of it, it’s a honest awareness that humans are a mix of good and bad.
But it’s not saying, “Well, I’m a bad person too,” because the abused is not an abuser, and that’s a night and day difference. It’s not being okay with what they did. It’s not necessarily having pitying feelings. It’s not feeling guilty that you ever felt negative feelings toward them.
It’s just seeing the other person as human.
Not a demon. Not a “sinner just like me.”
To know what that mean, I think, requires knowing that you’re a human too, which is how forgiveness can be a process, and only comes after your own healing.
These are just my preliminary thoughts. What do you think?