In American race relations there’s room for one thing – forgiveness. It’s like a spoonful of liquid medicine. It is important, it heals, it strengthens.
How many times have I walked in front of someone and not held the door? Then seconds later thought, “ugh, that was silly, why didn’t I hold the door?” Then those days when I’m in a hurry and don’t have time to let another driver into my lane. So, I just speed by and let them get in whenever, however. The best thing I can do when I am aware that I haven’t made room for another person is to forgive myself and be mindful at my next opportunity.
As a young woman, I was madly in love, then life got in the way. We couldn’t make it work. Now a few years have passed, and our kids reap the benefits of our forgiveness. We forgive ourselves for our choices, the harsh words, the things that shouldn’t have been said, the generalizations we believed – we forgive each other, and everyone is able to heal and move forward.
Ever been at work, and thought, “why don’t they seem to respect me?” Maybe they don’t include you in the weekend catch-up banter or invite you to the golf game at their local country club. I once worked with a woman who seemed to smile at everyone but me. For a couple of years, I sat 15 feet from her, and she barely said two words to me. What did I do? You got it. I forgave her. Every time I felt that prick of hurt, I forgave her. I spoke to her. I was polite at the company potluck. I even stood near her to give her the opportunity to feel my vibe. I genuinely meant her no ill will. Finally, one day, she needed to leave early, and no one would help her finish her project. I shook my head, smiled, walked over to her cubicle and offered to help. She flushed and stammered, but graciously accepted my offer. We instantly became fast friends. I found her to be funny, modest, hardworking and kind. She had never interacted with Black people before. I was the only Black person in our department, and none lived in her community. Well, here’s to being the first.
Forgiving is work. It’s never past tense (forgave). It’s about trusting that your hope is worth holding on to. It’s about letting go of injustice while adding steadfastness and hard work to the situation. Forgiving is a muscle. You work it often or it’s flabby and weak. If you need to climb a steep slope, you need to get your muscles in shape. We have a lot of work to do in this country. It starts with us, each person – so let’s get to work. I’m Black, and I’m willing to love again, to make time for others, to create new friendships, to rebuild America.