When we forgive someone who has hurt us, it is rare for us to nail it all with a single I forgive you. This shouldn't really surprise us. When we are physically wounded, it may take hours of surgery, days of rest, or many months of physiotherapy to heal us.

Why do we think healing our emotional wounds will be any different?

Part of the issue is that the current metaphors we use to talk about forgiveness—cancelling, pardoning, or letting go—are all once-only images. They communicate that forgiving once will be enough, however, more often than not this does not match our experience. Only after many rounds of forgiveness will we find ourselves able to talk about our mistreatment without those all too familiar pangs of pain rushing to the surface. 

In Lament Forgive I propose we start using untangling a knot as a new, two-sided, and process-orientated metaphor for forgiveness. It's an image which enables us to talk about forgiving as a journey that takes time and often repetition but ultimately ends in healing.

ForgivenessSteve Hall