As human creatures, made to be in relationship and to feel our lives at the deepest levels, we all experience times of pain/suffering/hurt/anger/disappointment brought on by the words or actions of those with whom we are in relationship. Indeed, sometimes we ourselves are the cause of that pain and anguish in others; and sometimes those wounds are mutual. We must be honest with ourselves that we have as much capacity to cause hurt as we do to be hurt by someone else.
As a person of faith, and global citizen of this earth, I believe that I have been given the gift of and responsibility to be an agent of grace, a manifest-er of mercy, a channel of compassion, and a sensible, smart cookie! I believe in forgiveness as the process of healing to repair breaches and restore relationships where possible, recognizing that forgiveness is not forgetting and some relationships are irreconcilable or better at a long distance. Forgiveness is as much, if not moreso, for the wounded as it is for the wound-er. Not all who inflict wounds desire forgiveness, and sometimes they are not even aware that their words or actions have caused a wound.
My Forgiveness Project is the name I have given to my personal journey to forgive those whose actions have brought pain and suffering to my life. It came to me as I was working through my reactions to a very painful job loss in the midst of dealing with a serious illness. (There are many details, twists and turns, and circumstances in my life that played into this particular circumstance that I will not detail here, though I will often refer to it and the people involved. You can follow my entries on this by looking for the tags “forgiveness” and “Forgiveness Project.”)
“Forgiveness Project” holds at least two meanings for me. One is the entirety of the journey from pain to reconciliation (or release) and the work I engage in through study, reading, prayer, contemplation, blogging, journaling, therapy, etc. Second is the physical manifestation of signs, symbols and gifts of forgiveness through knitting (or another means, perhaps a letter). Many of those whom I feel and recognize a need to forgive are likely to receive a piece/peace of knitting. For those individuals, I have in mind to create something that speaks a word of comfort, encouragement, blessing, peace or reconciliation. It could be a prayer shawl (which is the original item I labeled a “forgiveness project”) or a wrapper for bread (with the idea of communion bread in mind).
The purpose behind chronicling here, on my blog, is for me to see it in print and to actively process while recording this journey. Secondly, it is to share what I have learned by being intentional so that you can benefit and perhaps also learn from my journey. And if you yourself have learned something that you’d like to share, by all means!, go ahead and tell me! I am convinced that we do have something to teach each other.
Finally, let me share here a selection of the scriptures that is speaking loud and clear, as perhaps a mission statement for My Forgiveness Project.
27 ‘But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.
31Do to others as you would have them do to you.
33If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. 35But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. 36Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
37 ‘Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; 38give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.’ ~Luke 6.27-28, 31-38 NRSV
All emphases are mine.
(Originally this was posted as “The Forgiveness Project”, I changed it to “MY Forgiveness Project” on 6/15/11 after discovering the work of Marina Cantacuzino and her organization called The Forgiveness Project (which was founded in 2004) and her article on Huffpost “Can Forgiveness Overcome Cancer” which was a criticism of a book by Rev. Dr. Michael S. Barry called The Forgiveness Project: The Startling Discovery of How to Overcome Cancer, Find Health, and Achieve Peace (published in January 2011). While my forgiveness project was original to me, it was not original. And while my work relates to what each of these individuals is talking about, it is not related in any official or informal way to either.)