Normally, when I am hurt and I need to forgive, I try to take a step back and consider that things do not happen in isolation and people are rarely malicious. After all, broken people spread brokenness. In my mind it is a scale, weighing up my side and their side. Is my hurt justified or was their actions justified. I try to even out the scale a bit. It makes it easier to forgive.
There are two problems with this approach. Firstly, there might be a context and their intentions might not be malicious, but I was still hurt. A friend once said “we cannot control what hurts us”. It struck me, I often end up being mad at myself for being hurt. I have often seen my friends being labelled the guilty party, seemingly for being hurt (especially in a church). We need to remind ourselves that it is okay to have emotions. Emotions happen and justified or not, is okay. Being emotionally hurt is a very real thing.
Secondly, by balancing the scales in my mind, I am actually not forgiving at all. I am setting up something that is fair. Forgiveness isn’t fair. That is the point. Justified forgiveness is not forgiveness at all, it is simply a transaction.
I am learning that I do not need to downplay my emotions to forgive. I am learning that forgiveness is leaning into the unfairness. In fact, it is a celebration of the unfairness. It is saying, I value you more than I value (my idea of) justice.
Forgiveness is ultimately a sacrament. It is partaking of the unfairness of grace that has been unfairly given to us.