Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Audacity Of Hope....Ooops! No...The Audacity To Forgive.

President Barack Obama
"We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. "-- Martin Luther King Jr.

"Today, when I opened my store at 5a.m., there was an envelope sitting on the floor by the door. In the envelope was $600 and a note that said, “Five years ago, I broke into your store at night and stole $300 worth of food. I’m sorry. I was desperate. Here’s the money with 100% interest.” Interestingly, I never reported the incident to the cops because I assumed that whoever stole the food really needed it."

I'm sure if the above theft had happened to a lot of us, we would certainly call the police and if not, at least curse the living daylights out of the thief if we cannot get justice. It's only natural to be offended when people do things that hurt us. When I was a teenager, during one of my father's various long talks he told me that my capacity to forgive was very special and it would carry me through my life, my marriage etc. At that time I didn't understand but now I understand and I consciously try to strengthen my capacity to forgive and try not to get offended in the first place.

Pastor Poju Oyemade (Covenant Christian Centre, Nigeria) sited Forgiveness as one of the lessons, we can glean from President Obama’s life and political success. President Obama, by all natural standards, should be an offended man. He experienced emotional abandonment, first from his father at a very early age when he left home and abandoned him with his mother, who later on, also left him with her parents (his grandparents) to pursue another relationship with someone else.

He should have been bitter, but somehow he let go of all the pain and bitterness he could have held on to and still showed enormous respect and honour for his father, in particular, and his mother. He traveled all the way to the village his father was born in Kenya as a Senator to discover his roots. He also wrote a book entitled the ‘Dreams of my Father’. He didn’t build his life around the offence that would probably have been created but rose above that challenge. He once said that, not having his father at home, made him lack a sense of identity and direction which he found only when he committed himself to the service of others as a community organiser in the South-Side of Chicago.

The truth about life is this: an offended heart cuts your productivity and creativity by at least 50%. At worst case, it can ruin your life altogether. Your heart is the life force within you. It is the production centre of your life, the place where ideas beyond the range of your consciousness float in. This is the place where great Composers have heard the music their fingers later played, great Architects saw the buildings within their imaginations, Scientists cried out Eureka in a flash of a moment, the seat where great dreams are born. It can get contaminated and ruined by hate.

The exercise of the spiritual muscle called your heart is in forgiveness. As we get stronger naturally through physical exercise, our hearts grow in its capacity to produce and we exercise ourselves in the act of forgiving. Scripture commands us to break up the fallow ground of our lives. This is through letting go of all hurts from our pasts and reconciling ourselves with those we dislike within our hearts so that our intent towards them is one of peace. Life would be difficult if you harbour an unforgiving attitude towards members of your first cell on the earth, your family."

I'm not talking about some Zen-like spiritual holistic peace to the soul, closing-eyes indignation or the thought of the offender coming to our minds and we responding with a talk-to-the-hand kind of attitude. I'm referring to developing GENUINE compassion for those who have wronged us, instead of allowing anger toward them to eat away at us. Keeping in mind that "For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again".

Forgiveness does not come easy for many of us. I believe God honors our commitment to obey Him and our desire to please him when we choose to forgive. He completes the work in his time. We must continue to forgive (our job), by faith, until the work of forgiveness (the Lord's job), is done in our hearts.

I have found that prayer is one of the best ways to break down the wall of unforgiveness in my heart. When I begin to pray for the person who has wronged me, God gives me new eyes to see and a new heart to care for that person. As I pray, I start to see that person as God sees them, and I realize that he or she is precious to the Lord. I also see myself in a new light, just as guilty of sin and failure as the other person. I too am in need of forgiveness. If God did not withhold his forgiveness from me, why should I withhold my forgiveness from another?

Matthew 6:14-16
For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. (NIV)

Ijeoma Olujekun


  1. Prayer is a sure way to fill our hearts with good thoughts towards a person who has wronged us.

  2. The Key to forgiveness in a marriage is that it should always be a win-win relationship. The marriage will not grow if one party keeps malice and decides not to forgive.

  3. Thank you both for your contributions, I guess prayer is the key as they say. Certainly, the marriage will only wither in an environment of malice.


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