When I posted this article back in 2008, little did I know where THAT little forgiveness project would lead. The concept of Forgive it Forward could not have been further from my mind! I am re-posting this to share how important it is to pay attention to those little nudges we get along the path … including those to forgive. You never know where they will lead or, in this case, WHEN they will take seed and lead.
This Year, International Forgiveness Day is August 8, 2010
This original article was posted: August 1, 2008
Sunday, August 3, 2008 is International Forgiveness Day. An article by Michael E. McCullough, entitled Vengeance 101 in the July/August issue of Spirituality & Health lists projects that can be implemented in the spirit of encouraging the world to be a more forgiving place. Those of you who know Ray and me know this is a big topic for us. Neither of us would be here today were it not for our willingness to forgive and our willingness to accept forgiveness.
So, we cannot let this day go by without support. We are picking Project #4 on the list – with our own twist, of course. It states, “Promote a climate of apology and compensation in your family, neighborhood, congregation, or place of work.” We wish to promote a climate for consideration, contemplation, and conversation – if you care to join in – as to where our lives would be without the willingness to forgive and accept forgiveness.
When we say forgiveness, we are not talking about the “pardoning” kind. (The kind that says, “You’ve done me wrong. You’ve hurt me bad. You’ve altered me. I will suffer with this pain forever but I will forgive you.”) Yes, pardoning is a starting point. But pardoning, at best, offers a compromised peace. A peace that teeters atop past offenses, stashed yet never forgotten. Throw a few more offenses on top of the pile and this version of forgiveness crumbles rapidly. Pardoning would never have gotten Ray and I around the block after our reconciliation.
When we say forgiveness, we are talking about the kind that erases the “offense” forever; the kind that shifts our perception, converts the offense to a classroom, the offender to a teacher, the experience to an opportunity for growth. A growth that allows us to say, ” I forgive you.” with the subtext being, “I see this differently. I was mistaken when I thought you harmed me. Look at what I have learned. Look who I have grown to be. Look who I have uncovered. I’m okay. There is nothing to forgive here.” This kind of forgiveness does not crumble.
Yeah. Yeah. Easier said than done. You’re right. But it is doable. It took Ray and I eighteen years, nine months, and a betrayal to give birth to that kind of forgiveness between us. (It’s all in my book, Bernadette’s Pages.) We signed up for the class, became teacher to each other, and grew up in spite of ourselves. We wouldn’t change a thing in the way it happened. We needed every bit of that classroom to receive – and share – our gift. (Including the additional fourteen-plus years of practice that have come afterward.)
So, in the spirit of encouraging the world to be a more forgiving place, Ray and I invite you to consider where you are with (or without) forgiveness in your own backyard.
- If you find yourself looking back on a moment where you truly forgave and are reaping its benefits today, extend gratitude. (And share it. The world needs gratitude, too!)
- If you are struggling to find the willingness to forgive, what purpose is your pain serving? (There’s a hidden “payoff” somewhere. Find the payoff and you’ve taken your first step to freedom.)
- Imagine for a moment, waking tomorrow morning with no memory of past hurts, slights, or failures. Do you feel relief? Or anxiety and fear?
Forgiveness is not just an ideal to strive for. It is a tool that radically changes lives – always for the better. Ask anyone who has given it. Ask anyone who has received it.
We are not limiting our forgiveness project to August 3. We welcome your comments and any experiences you would like to share on the topic. Every thought for forgiveness is a prayer for a more forgiving world.
Let us start our process of reawakening with just a few simple concepts: Thoughts increase by being given away. The more who believe in them the stronger they become. – ACIM
Did you miss the Forgive it Forward video? CLICK HERE to see the 3-minute video!
Curious how it ALL started? CLICK HERE to see the 2-minute video book trailer
Did this make your day a little brighter? (Then “LIKE” this or SHARE this!) And feel free to add to the conversation below!
©2010 Enlightened Ink – If you are inspired to share or quote from this article please share The Messy Room with it. Together we grow.