I invited Gary Roe to write several posts. He also shares his story in my book When a Man You Love Was Abused.
I used to think forgiveness was a simple one-time act of the will. Forgive. Let it go. Move on. When I found myself confronted with the same emotions again, I assumed I hadn't forgiven.
Forgiving my abusers has been a process. It certainly began, as all forgiveness does, with an act of the will. God led me to the point where I chose to forgive, trusting that over time the feelings would follow.
Then another trigger would get pulled. A flashback. Someone would do or say something that put me right back under that ugly, familiar cloud of anger, shame, and guilt. Instead of wondering if I had really forgiven, I voiced my forgiveness again.
I've repeated that process dozens of times. Each time seems to get a little easier. Each time, I feel a little freer. I'm learning that I have to practice forgiveness, and sometimes it seems like moment by moment. Whenever the trigger gets pulled or the cloud of shame descends, I'm learning to see it as an invitation to forgive.