On Forgiveness

Some years ago, I wrote a book entitled, Forgive WHO?  The book dealt with the difficulty of forgiving the people who have hurt us most, based on the directives by God to do so – not just once, but over and over. It was and is a dastardly “ask,” frankly, and yet God demands it. At the end of the day, we help ourselves when we forgive those who have ripped our very souls to shreds. Holding onto the anger and hurt at having been done wrong does nothing good for us. The need to be “right” seems to, be physically, emotionally and spiritually damaging.

So it is with interest that I have been watching the Paula Deen debacle. She has apologized…and is asking forgiveness from those whom she offended.  The ball has been thrown into the court of the offended. What they do with it will determine their souls’ lives, not Paula’s.

I am offended by the “n” word; I do not for a moment believe that many white people have used it in public to refer to African-Americans because that word was a big part of American history. It was so much a part of our history that black people called themselves the “n” word, and continue to do so today. It is absolutely maddening to me to hear it used by anyone; kids saying to me to lighten up because it doesn’t mean anything makes me even madder. It is a horrible word and it came from a horrible place of hatred, arrogance and a false sense of superiority of one group over another.

So, I don’t really believe Paula or anyone who says he or she has “never” used that word at some point in their lives.

Some have said that Paula is not sincere in her apology; she is “sorry” only because she was found out, but isn’t that the case with most of us? When we do wrong, we hope we will get away with it. If we get caught, aren’t most of us first “sorry” because we got caught, and only after that “sorry” that we may have offended someone?  So if that’s the case with Paula, she’s not all that out of the norm. And if she’s sorry because she is, as Today Show host Matt Lauer suggested, “bleeding financially, that’s understandable too.

But at the end of the day, Paula apologized, and that ought to be enough. For God-fearing, Christ– following people, none of whom are perfect, her apology ought to be enough. We ought to be able to forgive her because …she made a mistake. We all do. We ought to be willing to forgive her because …God demands that we do.

The “n” word is a horrible word; I wish it would go away. Worse, I wish it had never come into being, with all of the negative attachments it has. Nobody had the right to cast black people into such a despicable place, and brand them as less than human. But it was done…and the bleeding from that would has not stopped. We keep pretending that racism is gone, or that the tentacles that racism spawned have disappeared. They have not. The old thoughts, words and attitudes linger; they are like pus that will not stop bubbling beneath our wounds.

Paula Deen is not a bad lady. She is a product of how she grew up, as we all are. It would be good to get this pesky word completely erased from our history and from our present-day, but it is not likely to disappear soon. For what it’s worth, Paula Deen, I forgive you. It’s easier for me if I do. There’s too much work to do to stay stuck on what you said in a deposition. I forgive you and I believe you’re sorry.

Time to move on.

A candid observation …


2 thoughts on “On Forgiveness

  1. I think people really need to lighten up about that whole situation. Many of employees of those companies who were pulling their endorsements from her have probably said the word numerous times. She said she was sorry, let her be.

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