Why Forgiveness Is Fluid and Indefinite

When deeply engulfed in an emotion, it is common to feel we will live in the sensation forever, forgetting that emotional experiences are transient. Feelings are recurring visitors that float through our hearts and minds, and then fade.

They come in and out of our being often uninvited and sometimes leave dizzying disorientation at their exit. Remembering that emotions are in no way permanent can help to lessen the trapped sensation we may often feel within the confines of our own heads, soothing discomfort through knowing no state of being lasts forever.

Forgiveness does not quite fall into the category of emotions and feelings, as it’s not a natural, involuntary reaction, but rather an experience we fight, tear and claw our way to. Feelings and emotions are more instinctual; they are a response to an event.

Forgiveness is not the intuitive reaction to someone hurting us.

However, viewing forgiveness through a lens similar to emotion allows us to take a more realistic, truthful, and honestly human approach to this act of release.

A flaw exists in the way we perceive forgiveness as a one time thing, a destination along this treacherous path, fully completed upon arrival. This is an impractical attitude, one that neglects the fact of our humanness, scattered with scars and delicate wounds, an endless ebb and flow.

If forgiveness is something you’ve struggled with, reflection or any reading on the topic will highlight the fact that it is granted to free yourself, and has very little to do with the wrongdoer. It’s a gift to yourself, not the other person.

Forgiving someone does not mean you invite them back into your life. It does not mean you tolerate behavior that doesn’t work for you, or that you’ve decided it’s acceptable to let yourself be mistreated.

Forgiveness is a choice you make only for you in order to free yourself from carrying the weight of resentment. The endeavor is a complicated and messy one; the hurt can be heavy and hard to lift from your shoulders.

Tightly held grudges must be released not because what happened is okay, but because you deserve to let the weight float and fade. Your body deserves to feel free of the burden crushing your spine. You deserve to drop the deadweight burning your palms as they grip, holding the injustice fiercely, all efforts pouring themselves into carrying the pain someone else gave to you. You deserve to let the blood run a little more smoothly through your veins and unhinge the dams blocking your flow. It’s a choice made for yourself, not granted with re-earned trust.

The effort can begin with empathy, making an attempt to understand the other person and accept their flaws and humanness. Yet, human nature and circumstance can be highly complex. It’s not as straightforward as receiving an apology and then granting forgiveness, or coming to an understanding of someone’s actions and easily forgiving.

There are so many nuances that can complicate the effort. The person you wish to forgive may no longer be living, or perhaps the hurt is two sided. Forgiveness is intricate and does not arrive in a neatly wrapped package; it’s a wandering traveler. The act is not a destination, a once and done, completed ordeal.

Forgiveness is fluid. It is not definitive, granted once and forever cemented, but flowing and slippery.

You can tear your way to forgiveness, finally feeling you’ve reached peace and fully releasing the resentment locked in your bones, but like any emotional experience, it fades and resurfaces. Its arrival is not marked seamlessly one day to remain forever.

Some days you can forgive with your whole being, and then tomorrow not so much. Today you can fight your way to forgiveness, choose it wholeheartedly and feel that all is well, but you wake up one day next week and the venture begins again.

Forgiveness evolves and takes on its own lifespan, coming and going as it needs to. It is possible to have forgiven in full truth all last year, and then today the wound reopens and forgiveness fades. The experience is a release, but there will always be triggers causing what we’ve left behind to step back in, hurt or anger presenting itself once again. We can let go, but our bodies hold muscle memory and scars will remain from the blood letting. Release is not an easy action.

We may speak about letting go as if it’s a simple, carefree activity.

Open your fist, drop the hurt, grief, resentment, anything you’ve locked inside your grip that’s slicing your palms. But letting go is not a pain free, lazy process. Whatever you’re holding on to may have to fight its way out of you, expel itself from your system often in sobbing or screaming storms.

The opening is often less of your own hands as it is the other way around. The pain lets go of its hold on you. Once it releases you, there will always be new grips, and wounds can always tear again. Forgiveness is the scar covering a gash; you choose to move on and let the hurt heal itself, but some days the scar throbs, muscle memory reigniting the pain.

Forgiveness is not achieved and completed in a neat, tidy bundle.

It’s necessary to view it as a state, like an emotion, as opposed to a destination or accomplishment. We do not expect to arrive at sadness, anger, or even happiness, and then exist within that experience forever. Our humanness demands constant flow and evolution. Emotions and states of being enter and exit our pores.

Because we are human, we cannot be held to a contract of eternal forgiveness, just as we cannot be locked into always feeling joy or despair. We must view forgiveness as a flowing thing, one that allows for us to be deeply human, instead of setting an unrealistic expectation for a feeling to be permanent. It is okay to let your forgiveness be just as deeply human as you are.