Forgiveness does not mean that we will cease to hurt. The wounds are deep, and we may hurt for a very long time. Just because we continue to experience emotional pain does not mean that we have failed to forgive.
Forgiveness does not mean that we will forget. That would do violence to our rational faculties. Helmut Thielicke, a German pastor who endured the darkest days of the Nazi Third Reich, says, "One should never mention the words ‘forgive’ and ‘forget’ in the same breath." No, we remember, but in forgiving we no longer use the memory against others.
Forgiveness is not pretending that the offense did not really matter. It did matter, and it does matter, and there is no use pretending otherwise. The offense is real, but when we forgive, the offense no longer controls our behavior.
Forgiveness is not acting as if things are just the same as before the offense. We must face the fact that things will never be the same. By the grace of God they can be a thousand times better, but they will never again be the same.
What then is forgiveness? It is a miracle of grace whereby the offense no longer separates. Forgiveness means that we will no longer use the offense to drive a wedge between us, hurting and injuring one another. Forgiveness means that the power of love that holds us together is greater than the power of the offense that separates us.
– Richard J. Foster.
We've all been hurt. We've all hurt other people. All of us need to be forgiven. And all of us need to give and receive the freedom that only forgiveness can bring.