Cutting someone off is not the same as forgiving them.
Bam! That’s it. That’s what you need to know.
I could just end right there, but it would be a disservice to the abandoned yet necessary topic of forgiveness. Gone are the days where we seek or offer forgiveness. We are in a much more self absorbed time- a time where pettiness is glorified, canceling celebrities is the norm, and cutting people off is a rite of passage.
Point blank- it's a lot of people out here apologizing, but ain't nobody forgiving.
Society teaches us that we don’t need to forgive others. We just need to cut people off and move on with our lives. We’re told we need to eliminate toxic people from our lives, get rid of their bad energy, and not let them kill our vibe. We’re encouraged to forget the offense or forget the person by replacing them with something or someone else. Yet, none of these nuggets of advice address the hard heart work involved in truly moving forward and that entails forgiveness.
So first, let’s start with the difference between cutting someone off and forgiving them.
Cutting Someone Off- (verb): prohibiting someone from gaining or having access to you; can include blocking a telephone number or social media profile or asking for your spare key back
Forgiving Someone- (verb): releasing bitterness, resentment, anger, and even vengeance in your heart toward someone; can be done with or without removing another party from your life
Both are difficult tasks. So don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. In addition, here are some things people probably aren’t saying at all in regard to forgiveness:
1. Forgiveness is a Process & You Have All the Control
Freeing your heart is work, which means you have to do it repeatedly. It is more than a one time act. And while there is no barometer on the speediness of forgiveness, it’s important to remember that this is your life. How important is it to you to have peace? Is it truly worth it to remain bitter over something from 20 years ago?
2. Releasing Their Presence is Not the Same as Releasing the Pain
Getting to the point where you’re ok without someone (especially someone you love) is tough, but it’s not the same as working through hurt. Removing someone from your life does not automatically remove the hurt they caused. It doesn’t erase the painful memories. Neither does it soften the callousness growing in your heart.
Cutting someone off without forgiving them is like taking an empty trash bag to the curb for pick up the next day, while all the trash is scattered throughout the floors of your house.
You’ve eliminated the person who has hurt or offended you, but you haven’t dealt with or cleaned up the mess they left behind. Your floors are stained with resentment, sticky from bitterness, and scuffed by anger. The trash and remaining residue are still littered inside. They didn’t disappear because you removed the bag.
3. Forgiveness Doesn’t Require an Apology.
This may be heart breaking, but there may be times you won’t receive an apology. You may deserve one. You may want one, but that doesn’t guarantee you’ll get one. That doesn’t mean you should remain locked in the prison of unforgiveness though. Free yourself from a life of hurt, disappointment, bitterness, and anger by forgiving others- even if they never offer an apology.
4. Forgiveness Doesn’t Equate to Access
You can forgive from afar. Once you’ve discovered the beauty of forgiveness and the freedom it offers, that doesn’t mean the person or people who’ve hurt you need to return to your life in the same capacity or even at all. You don’t have an obligation to return to your former relationship status. One of the amazing things about forgiveness is that it transcends hearts, minds, and even… proximity.
Forgiveness isn’t easy. It isn’t attractive. It certainly isn’t popular. It’s barely even admirable these days, but it is indispensable. It is life changing. So if you need to forgive someone, here are several questions you can work through to get there.
What did this person do (specifically) that I have trouble releasing?
How do I respond when hearing that person’s name associated with good news? What about bad news?
At what moments do I find myself feeling angry or resenting them? What triggers those feelings?
What lessons can I learn from my past dealings with this person going forward to prevent repeated incidents?
In gaining self awareness, what was my role in the past situation(s) with this person?
Do I have peace with my life and where I am right now?
Please don’t misunderstand or misconstrue the message. There are some behaviors that require our immediate exit from certain situations. This includes but is not limited to physical, mental, sexual, and verbal abuse. This article was written to highlight the differences between cutting someone off and true forgiveness (which still may include removing someone from our lives). It is in no way advocating for people to remain in dangerous situations.