Freedom is knowing that there’s no such thing as one-size-fits-all forgiveness — the very moment you realize forgiveness comes in a million different shapes, sizes, forms and distances.
There are two things about forgiveness that I know to be true. First, there is nothing simple about forgiveness. It’s complicated and layered, nuanced and complex in even the best of circumstances.
And secondly, everything I grew up believing about forgiveness is wrong.
That second part is the lesson I’ve been learning, unlearning, and relearning on a lather, rinse, repeat cycle through the last several years.
For years, I carried the cookie-cutter image of what culture, family, and church told me forgiveness should look like. The rules were clear, the definition very cut and dry.
Rules that shamed me into believing my goodness required extending grace immediately — and often without any acknowledgement, accountability, or apology.
Rules that shamed me into believing my goodness required extending grace immediately without any changed behavior on their part.
Rules that shamed me into believing my goodness required actually doing more than extending grace immediately.
My goodness wasn’t tethered to immediate grace alone. It wasn’t enough to just forgive — I also had to forget.
The world told me true forgiveness meant letting it go and letting them back in, falling back into the disruptive cadence we knew before. Culture, and family, and church made it very clear that, if I couldn’t go back to the toxic status quo of our relationship, I was somehow:
A bad person.
A bad daughter.
A bad Christian.
A really bad forgiver.
I know now that none of this isn’t true.
It took me a really long time to finally understand that there’s no such thing as one-size-fits-all forgiveness. It’s not straightforward. It’s not one-dimensional. It’s not even linear, really. Most importantly, it’s far less OR and far more AND.
You can choose to fully forgive someone AND still choose to:
You may even choose to move forward without them entirely because sometimes, self-care looks like fully forgiving someone AND still fully ending your relationship with them.
It doesn’t mean that you have an angry heart. It just means that you finally understand you can believe in second chances AND still decide it’s safer, better, healthier for you not to extend one.
Everything changes in that moment when you realize that forgiveness isn’t timely or transactional — it’s fluid, ebbing and flowing like the tide against the stands. The very moment you finally understand that there’s no such thing as one-size-fits-all forgiveness. It comes in a million different shapes, sizes, seeds forms, and distances.
And that feels like freedom.
TODAY’S SOFT NEVER
Let’s put a Soft Never on believing we can never prioritize our own self-care and healing while actively forgiving someone else. Let’s grant ourselves permission to move through the forgiveness process at our own sweet pace and time.
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