#LeadershipMatters: Embracing the Gift and Power of Forgiveness

Reflections on a nation that is traumatized, fractured, and in dire need of collective healing and forgiveness.


“To forgive is to set a prisoner free, and discover that the prisoner was you.” – Lewis B. Smedes

Sometimes, people hurt, malign, disappoint us in unconscionably vile, crippling and painful ways. It may be through their words, silence, attitudes, actions, or inactions. And it is often worse when these acts of commission or omission are done by loved ones, those closest to us, and with the greatest powers to inflict the deepest cuts.


We may end up carrying this deep pain, like a yoke around our very essence, and may even wish to suppress it when it becomes unbearable. Or we may end up living in denial, without acknowledging the power of this pain over our lives. Or we choose something or someone else as a buffer to numb or mask the pain. Often our choices may be unhealthy and not aligned with the values and principles we hold dear. And I guess for me, forgiveness is a DECISION; a choice to finally say, ‘I am willing to let go of my pain.’


The one constant with unresolved pain is that when we do not pay attention to it, we invariably have to pay with more pain, more energy, time, money…And the stench of the roots of our unresolved pain(s) finally begins to leak out into the different areas of our lives, and invariably begins to stain, diminish, stink up and tarnish the beauty we would have created in all other relationships.


Today, I urge you to take a moment to reflect on the power of FORGIVENESS. It is a universal gift that unlocks, heals and empowers our souls and spirit. And from experience, I think that there are three key people we should forgive: The people who did us wrong, the people who should have been there for us but weren’t, and most importantly, ourselves. What should we forgive? Everything! What is unforgivable? Nothing!


On our own, forgiveness may not be easy, after all, we are mere mortals. Forgiveness is an act that is bigger than our conscious being, it tears apart all we think we are capable of, all notions of self, and challenges who we eventually become. It starts with the powerful and unequivocal DECISION to forgive. That sincere choice of deciding to forgive, leads us to tap into the beauty of grace and light, which avail to us all.


And with this grace, we are likely to have the courage to surrender to the process, even when we do not believe it is possible. Decision precedes belief, so do not worry if you believe you are capable of forgiving or not. Simply make the decision to do it. There is no prescriptive path; it is your choice, at your own time. And when you do decide, simply stand in the joy and gratitude of allowing it happen, seamlessly, easily and effortlessly, not of our own accord, or based on the power of our humanity, but rather, based on that part of us that is attuned to a shared humanity and divinity.


Then, suddenly, we wake up someday, and everything feels, looks, sounds, tastes different. And as we recall the events, the weight of the ache disappears and we find ourselves looking at the events and people involved with new eyes of empathy, compassion, kindness, understanding and love. We realize that we have let go of our judgment of the events and persons and we are free of the bitterness, anger, sadness, hurt, guilt, shame, pain….We can finally move on in peace. This is how healing begins.


Today, I wish you the power, joy and freedom of FORGIVENESS in your personal relationships, careers, businesses and community. Let today be the day you begin the journey of taking back your power, by embracing the gift of forgiveness. This means letting go of all the people you’ve inadvertently given away your power to. As a people, who have we outsourced our responsibility of choice and agency to?


By refusing or choosing (consciously or unconsciously), not to forgive, you create a looped, vicious chain that holds you hostage, to those who have wronged you, whether they are dead or alive! You become a conduit and inherit other people’s rage, biases, hatred, prejudices. However, the moment you forgive those who you think were unjust to you (validly or not), you cut off the chains you gave them to bind your life to theirs. Forgiveness is a gift to self. It frees you up to create and innovate. No society can thrive with this much hatred, divisiveness, and lack of trust or empathy. It eventually implodes.


In love were we created, with love were we molded, through love were we redeemed. Or at least, that is what I would love to believe. At our core, we are beams of love. Maybe it is time to use our heads, tongues, minds and our heart for the purpose they was created; to serve, to co-create, to build, to love and be loved, unconditionally. The spirit of true forgiveness gives us the daring freedom to experience and explore life fully, with empathy and compassion. In the end, we are merely reflecting the perfections and/or “deformities” of one another. Indeed, I believe that we are all connected, somehow, someway, regardless of the seeming differences we tend to focus on. Before all other labels, we are HUMAN BEINGS…


Yes, I will keep reiterating this, to forgive “other” is to forgive yourself; it is one of the most courageous acts of love and offers us a path to return to wholeness. And as I begin a new phase in my life, these reflections are gentle reminders for me too. The journey is ultimately about self-awareness. Each of us must take responsibility for the society we are all co-creating. In different ways, we are all culpable.


For each of us, in our homes, at work, our worship and play places, and in the society at large, the more aware we become, the more we are able to harness our diversity. Being present also makes us more discerning about the sort of news we consume or allow in our spaces, both in real and cyber-worlds. A new nation will birthed when people reframe the narratives of their dark past, and focus on building shared values that guide their conducts.


We have to first decide, – do we want to continue rehashing history, without taking any positive learning from it, or are we willing to “see” it with new lens? Do we want the dysfunctional status quo, or do we seek to build something entirely better and different? You cannot effectively lead or live well with a people if you do not love them; and you cannot love fully and wholly, if you lack the capacity to let go and forgive. It is truly in our hands..


I will end this with the beautiful words of the phenomenal Maya Angelou:

You can’t forgive without loving. And I don’t mean sentimentality. I don’t mean mush. I mean having enough courage to stand up and say, ‘I forgive. I let it go, I’m finished with it!”

Someday, as a people, may we have the courage to say these words and begin to create new, empowering and unifying narratives. As simple and as trite as these words are, for what is obviously a complex and fractured society, it is my view that the hardest problems often require the simplest of answers. There is so much visceral pain, hatred and divisiveness in the land, and yet, what is pain but unresolved rage; what is hatred but unresolved fears and insecurities? Hurt people, hurt others…This is a society crying out for help, and seeking an empathy revolution. And maybe, it begins with the simple act of personal forgiveness?


Love, Light and Truth!

Juliet ‘Kego


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