As she says, "It’s easy to say we’ve forgiven if we haven’t felt our anger."
And I think that is the trap too many christians fall into. We've been taught that forgiveness is mandatory, but we also live with the unspoken pressure to keep up appearances - to look good for God. And so we fall for the lie that all we need to do is say the magic words and then everything is all ok again. We can then proceed as normal and sell our testimony of how happy and free we are.
The only trouble is, that we haven't actually dealt with the grief and anger and pain; we've simply papered over the ugliness and called it forgiveness. Despite the fact that Jesus had no issue expressing strong anger and deep grief, we've somehow equated a lack of emotion with godliness.
In his book, The Cry of the Soul, Dan Allender says that smooth, unruffled acceptance is delusion. “For many [Christians], strong feelings are an infrequent, foreign experience. Their inner life is characterized by an inner coolness, bordering on indifference. Unfortunately, this is often mistaken for trust.”When christians buy the lie that strong feelings are somehow 'bad', and couple it with a belief that simply saying forgiveness has happened makes it so, it creates a trap for the one who desires to be found 'acceptable'. They must continue to uphold the illusion of forgiveness and so daren't give expression to their true feelings, and yet in suppressing those feelings they will never know the freedom of real forgiveness.
If we've said we've forgiven and yet never owned our emotions, there's nowhere for us to go. We can't admit our feelings, and so we can't deal with them. We're stuck with them unless we find some way to break free from the lie.
Tragically, emotions which remain unaddressed will negatively affect both ourselves and our relationships:
"...it turns out that people who habitually suppress their emotions actually experience more negative emotions than people who suppress less. Although suppression doesn’t dampen people’s experience of negative emotions (just their expression of them) it does seem to have an adverse effect on people’s positive emotions. People who suppress more do report experiencing and expressing fewer positive emotions, and their friends agree. Being a suppressor is also associated with being more depressed, less satisfied with life, and having lower self esteem, optimism and well-being. People who suppress more also have less social support, avoid getting close to others, and are seen by peers as having fewer close relationships. Why is suppression so bad? Researchers suggest that it’s because suppressing your emotions makes you feel inauthentic, which leads to feeling worse about yourself and your relationships, the very thing you were trying to avoid." The Good and Bad of Emotion Regulation StrategiesSo maybe, it's time for christians to stop the rush to declare 'forgiveness', and take the time to actually deal with the emotional impact of whatever behaviour we've experienced which needs our forgiveness.