This post is a question to the handful of people who bother to read my blog. I am genuinely puzzled about what it means to forgive someone and I thought maybe some of you would have some insight.
I understand forgiving a discrete transgression or even a pattern of harmful behavior that is not deeply damaging. I can understand letting go of these things and giving a person a fresh start. But there are situations, such as when someone is abused, where it is unhealthy for the victim to wipe clean the slate and start afresh with the abuser. Often, for these victims, cutting off all contact with the abuser or figuring out a way to keep them in a place where the abuse cannot continue are incredibly healthy moves. Yet I often hear these victims being counseled to forgive their abuser.
It's all well and good to relinquish a sense of vengeance. But I have to assume that forgiveness means something different in this context than it does normally. Because normally, I think that forgiveness should be an utterly complete act, an act in which I dismantle all of the internal barriers I've constructed against someone else's poor behavior-- to truly begin the relationship anew. I think that when victims of abuse are counseled to forgive their abusers, their counselors either don't understand the true nature of forgiveness, mean to convey something different, or are stupid. Am I missing something here?