In the relentless pursuit of personal and professional growth, we must confront the painful truths of our past and begin the journey of forgiveness and growth. It is in these moments that we summon the strength to forgive, allowing us to unburden ourselves and propel forward. My own journey of forgiveness began as I recognized the need to shed the heavy weight of past hurt, anger, and sadness.
As the year commenced, I embarked on a quest to define my goals, spanning every facet of my life: personal, career, relationships, health, and spirituality. Among the spiritual objectives I set, forgiveness emerged as a pivotal goal. Given my role in the DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) space, I found myself grappling with the need to show up as the best version of myself.
Revealing the Pain
To embark on this journey of forgiveness and growth, I first had to acknowledge the deep scars I had buried within my soul. These were the scars left by enduring racism and sexism throughout my life and career. Confronting these painful experiences was the essential first step toward healing.
It wasn’t easy to revisit the hurtful comments and actions that I had encountered, but I knew that facing them head-on was crucial to my personal growth. Some of these words and actions included:
- “You speak well for an African, how come?”
- “You don’t have the look for HR.”
- “We don’t do that diversity stuff over here.”
- “Ya’ll didn’t thank us for coming into your country to ‘make you better’.” (a gut punch)
- “Well, what do you want me to do? It will make things awkward for me and others.” (After asking for something to be done about the racial abuse I experienced as a senior leader)
- “Black people use the n-word, why are you upset?” (Following on from the above comment)
- “Talking about black lives is political.”
- “Don’t be an angry black woman. It’s intimidating.” (I was only expressing my opinion passionately)
- “You are such a strong woman, please tone it down. It’s scary and intimidating.” (I was standing up for myself)
These were just a fraction of the painful experiences I endured, and reflecting on them felt like swallowing a bitter pill. But I knew that in order to heal and grow, I had to confront them courageously.
Releasing the Burden
To make room for personal growth and progress, I had to relinquish the heavy burden of anger and frustration that I had been carrying for far too long. This was a process filled with challenges:
- Tough Conversations: I embarked on difficult conversations, both with others and myself, to process my emotions and experiences.
- Solitary Reflection: I allowed myself the solitude needed for deep introspection and self-healing.
- Embracing My Truth: I found the strength to speak my truth unapologetically, refusing to let fear or shame hold me back.
- Loss and Gain: Along the way, I lost some relationships that were no longer serving me, but I also forged new connections with friends and allies who shared my commitment to fighting racism and sexism.
- Forgiveness: Ultimately, I learned the transformative power of forgiveness.
Repairing and Renewing
Forgiveness, is a daily gift we must give and receive. It is a wellspring of strength that allows us to maintain our integrity while extending compassion to others.
As 1 Peter 4:8 imparts, “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.”
This love encompasses the cultivation of a forgiving attitude in our relationships, a choice not to let the shortcomings of others define us or our connections with them.
I needed to live this so that those who needed me had the best part of me, and those willing to do the work had access to me. Consistently achieving this goal demanded growth on my part:
- Discernment: I honed the skill of discernment, learning when to pick my battles and when to stand my ground.
- Humility: I embraced humility as a tool for personal growth, recognizing that it takes strength to admit when we are wrong.
- Letting Go: I found the courage to let go of the past, relinquishing the hold it had on me.
- Surrounding Myself with Allies: I sought out like-minded individuals who provided support, called me out when necessary, and helped me maintain perspective.
- Psychological Safety: The importance of psychological safety became evident to me. It was crucial to be in an environment where I could handle mistakes, learn from them, and keep moving forward.
Today, I stand as a testament to the power of forgiveness, growth, and resilience. Because the road was long, the battles were tough, I am here now, making space for the new. I am driven by the belief that to whom much is given, much is required.
I continue to grow, learn, and strive toward my goal of inspiring before I expire. The journey of forgiveness and self-discovery has not only made me stronger but has also shown me that we can emerge from the shadows of our past, victorious and full of grace. And in this line of work, I realise the journey will be long.
In this moment of profound transformation, I offer a heartfelt message to those who have walked similar paths: Embrace your truth, forgive with an open heart, and let your growth become a beacon of inspiration for others. Together, we can dismantle the walls of prejudice and inequality, creating a brighter future for those who need us!
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