Far in the back row, against the wall, was a hand hesitantly lifted for a question. I invited her to respond. “Doesn’t forgiving someone over and over again,” asked the woman in a subdued voice, “invite them to keep hurting us?” She had been a regular attendee during a parish program on forgiveness I had been leading, but had never spoken until then. Tonight, however, we had been discussing Jesus’ teaching that we should forgive those who offend us seventy times seven times, and she had raised an obvious and necessary question. I was glad she had asked it and sensed that, for her, the matter was not just theoretical; it was personal, and perhaps painfully so. She had a burdened look about her, as if she were carrying a great weight on her back. I couldn’t help but wonder if she was a victim of domestic abuse. In my answer, I wanted to assure her that we can seek to forgive someone while acting to protect ourselves from additional harm. “We can forgive from a distance,” I insisted, “the people we should keep at a distance.” Forgiveness is not the same as reconciliation.