FORGIVENESS: The Naked Truth

“Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude.”
―Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Today, as we observe Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, I find myself thinking about the man who so elegantly fought to achieve equality for ALL people. Dr. King had a big vision for his people, his nation. Sadly, his life ended before he could see the positive results that were born from his non-violent marches, protests, and inspirational speeches.

As I ponder the subject of forgiveness, I wonder if Dr. King struggled with this issue. His beloved nation believed the color of his skin made him inferior to white people. How did he forgive his country? How did forgive those who did not want to share buses, bathrooms, or restaurants with “colored” (the term used back in the days of the civil rights movement) people?

“As my sufferings mounted I soon realized that there were two ways in which I could respond to my situation — either to react with bitterness or seek to transform the suffering into a creative force. I decided to follow the latter course.” ― Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dr. King went on to do great things for our country because he understood the power of forgiveness. He understood what forgiveness is – and, what it is not. He knew forgiveness meant having mercy on people who didn’t know better; he counteracted hate with education and love.

Maybe it’s time we educate ourselves about forgiveness. Many of us confuse forgiveness with agreeing with whatever happened that is causing us to forgive ourselves or someone else. Consider Dr. Wayne W. Dyer’s wise words: “Look into your heart and be honest about all the people in your past who have harmed you in any way. Where there is pain, practice pardon. Forgiveness is the very foundation of spiritual awakening.”

The NAKED TRUTH about forgiveness: When you forgive, you do it so you can transform your suffering into something more positive – perhaps personal growth, tolerance, or simply realizing that we all make mistakes.

Like Dr. King said, forgiveness is a constant attitude. Think about it – there is always someone or something to forgive, from the guy who cut you off in traffic, to the sister who treats you like you have a contagious disease. If Dr. King could forgive the many injustices he encountered – many MAJOR injustices – it’s possible for us to forgive the injustices – both big and small – in our own lives. How? Just remember that forgiveness is not an occasional act. Embrace a constant, conscious attitude of forgiveness – one seemingly unforgivable moment at a time.

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