There are at least two kinds of forgiveness.
One is what you extend to offenders you don’t know, distant acquaintances, or people you could cut out of your life with little consequence. It’s easy to hate these people, and that hate feels good for a while until it rots some part of your humanity.
There’s a second kind of forgiveness that you give to the people you really love. Because you love them, you know from the moment they start making amends that you will forgive them, but this doesn’t make it easier. In fact, love usually makes forgiveness hurt more.
Forgiveness is long and excruciating. You have to wade through the pool of black rage in your heart before you’re ready to say the words. Often, you have to keep wading long after you say it, but just because it takes time doesn’t mean you aren’t forgiving.
Forgiveness is intentional. The fastest way to forgive someone is to stop running from the cause of the hurt and look it straight in the eyes. The longer you avoid it, the longer it will take to heal. You have to take the knife of the other person’s transgression and push it into your heart until it vanishes. Eventually, your heart will dissolve the blade and the wound will heal, but it will never happen automatically, and it will never happen if you look the other way.
Here’s an image on forgiveness: It’s is like driving directly into a sunset on a straight highway. At first, the light is blinding and it’s all you can see or think about. It takes all your effort just to keep pushing into it. You put on sunglasses, drop the visor, look at the edge of the road, but the fact remains that the only way forward is to face the searing light.
Time slows down on this road. The 20 minutes you spend driving into it feels like 2 hours. Imperceptibly, the light begins to fade, then it’s less miserable, then there’s a balance and the road looks more blue than yellow. Before long, the sun sets and soon the light is gone.
I’m not sure forgiveness and grief are completely separate. Forgiveness is grief towards the object of your love, the widening of your arms to welcome back what was taken from you. Forgiveness and grief both take time, and when they decide how long they need, they can’t be negotiated with.
Last thing. This song captures exactly what it feels like to forgive. Go listen immediately.